Meritage Racing’s Inti collected the biggest victory of his racing career on Saturday, June 8, when he surged past Complete Zen in Colonial Downs’ stretch and drew clear to a 3 1/4-length victory in the $50,000 David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 3), the feature race of the Virginia track’s opening-day program. Why Not Racing’s Complete Zen held on for second, 1 1/2 lengths clear of Cat Feathers, the 2012 filly and mare champion who was making her first start over fences in the current season.
Ridden by Roddy Mackenzie, Uruguay-bred Inti went off as 23.90-1, the third-longest price in a field of 10 for the 2 1/4-mile race over National Fences. Trained by Cyril Murphy, Inti ran the distance in 4:25.20 on Colonial’s spacious turf course. After more than three inches of rain in the preceding day and a half, the course was rated as soft.
Inti had one victory last year, at Colonial Downs in an allowance hurdle in early June. In the current season, he had finished fourth in the Sandhills Cup, an allowance hurdle at the Stoneybrook Steeplechase on April 6, and then was an even sixth in the Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes at the Iroquois Steeplechase in Nashville on May 11. In the Ferguson field were the Marcellus Frost winner, Mr. Hot Stuff, and a crowd of stakes winners. Heading the group was Irv Naylor’s Decoy Daddy, who had already won two Grade 3 races in 2013 and went off as the 8-5 favorite.
Mackenzie placed Inti toward the back of the field in the early going as a front-end battle erupted between Decoy Daddy and Gene Weymouth’s Wild for Gold. They alternated on the lead until Wild for Gold, ridden by Darren Nagle, was pulled up after the sixth fence. The battle also took its toll on Decoy Daddy, who tired before completing two miles and eventually finished seventh under Carol-Ann Sloan.
Richard Boucher, riding Complete Zen for his wife, trainer Lilith Boucher, made the first move from the back of the field and drew clear to a six-length advantage after two miles. But Mackenzie kept Inti on the inside path and trimmed Complete Zen’s advantage to 2 1/2 lengths at the final fence. They still had plenty of ground to make up, and Inti wrested the advantage with a sixteenth-mile remaining and drew away to the finish line.
Owner-trainer Kate Dalton’s Cat Feathers overtook Mr. Hot Stuff in the stretch to collect third money under Bernie Dalton. Gil Johnston’s Mr. Hot Stuff advanced into second position after two miles but tired to finish fourth, three lengths behind Cat Feathers.