Reigning timber champion Doc Cebu tracked front-running Top Man Michael for much of the Shawan Downs’ $25,000 Brown Advisory Legacy Chase, battled to the lead over the final fences, and drew clear in the stretch Saturday to win by 3 1/2 lengths.
Stewart Strawbridge’s Kings Apollo moved into third position in the latter half of the 3 1/8-mile Legacy Chase but had no answer to the leading pair after the final fence and finished third, 11 1/4 lengths behind Irv Naylor’s Top Man Michael.
Gordonsdale Farm’s Canyon Road finished fourth, well clear of Monstaleur, who was a nose ahead of 2017 Legacy Chase winner Rodriguez in sixth. Doc Cebu ran the Legacy Chase distance in 7:06.40 on Shawan course rated as firm.
Owned by Charles Fenwick, Michael D. Hankin, and Charles Noell, Doc Cebu scored his second victory of the year, following his second consecutive win in the Willowdale Steeplechase, and took a step toward a second straight timber championship for trainer Jack Fisher.
At the start, Top Man Michael moved immediately to the lead under Darren Nagle, with Rodriguez close behind him and Doc Cebu in third under tight restraint by Hadden Frost, his regular jockey.
Frost allowed Doc Cebu to move closer and found a comfortable position approximately three lengths off Top Man Michael’s pace. Three fences from the finish, Frost established the inside position for his mount and moved closer to the pacesetter.
Jumping well throughout, Doc Cebu jumped to the lead two fences from the finish, but Top Man Michael reestablished his lead going into the last. The front-runners began to draw away from the rest of the field approaching the last, and they jumped the fence together, with Doc Cebu taking out the top rail of the final obstacle.
With the inside position and energy in reserve, Doc Cebu forged to a clear lead and was drawing away to the finish.
Fenwick, who purchased Doc Cebu off the flat as part of a two-horse deal for $11,000, indicated that he was well pleased with the effort. “He was right there where he should be the whole time,” said Fenwick, who is Shawan’s race chairman.
The Legacy Chase’s $15,000 first-place purse raised Doc Cebu’s purses over fences to $156,600. He has made 10 starts over fences and has won eight of them. He has never finished worse than third over fences, including victories in two starts over hurdles in 2016.
Last year, he ascended to the timber title with the win at Willowdale followed by victories in the Genesee Valley Hunt Cup and International Hunt Cup.