Two veteran stakes winners and a front-end speedster will clash in a talent-packed edition of the $50,000 David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 3), the featured hurdle race of Saturday’s 31st annual International Gold Cup meet.
First post time is noon at Great Meadow Race Course in The Plains, Va., for an action-packed nine-race program that features pari-mutuel wagering.
The horse to beat in the 2 1/2-mile Ferguson Memorial will be All Together, a veteran stakes winner owned by Sheila J. Williams and Andre Brewster. Fourth in both the Smithwick and New York Turf Writers, the nine-year-old Danzig gelding returned to the winner’s circle with a victory in Virginia Fall’s W. Gary Baker Memorial Stakes. Sean McDermott will be the saddle for leading trainer Jack Fisher.
Benefiting from a change of scene after being claimed at Saratoga, Gregg Ryan’s Spy in the Sky put in a strong effort to finish third in Belmont Park’s Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) on Sept. 18. Now trained by New York flat horseman George Weaver, the two-time Grade 1 winner will be ridden by Tom Foley.
Pleasant Woodman, owned by Virginia Lazenby and Farm d’Allie Racing Stables, has carried his front-end speed to two major victories this year, in Aiken Spring’s Budweiser Imperial Cup (Gr. 3) on March 22 and the Iroquois Steeplechase’s Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes on May 10.
Trainer Doug Fout sent the six-year-old Woodman gelding into Grade 1 competition at Saratoga Race Course this summer, and he finished third in the A. P. Smithwick Memorial and fifth in the New York Turf Writers Cup. For his return to Grade 3 competition, Pleasant Woodman will be ridden by Gerard Galligan.
Middleburg-based trainer Fout also will send out Betsy Mead’s Forgotten Man, who finished fifth in the Baker Memorial. Jeff Murphy will ride.
The Fields Stable’s Bob Le Beau finished second in the Baker Memorial on Oct. 4, and Gus Dahl will again ride the Irish import for trainer Elizabeth Voss Murray.
A talented import looking to find his footing in American Steeplechasing is Irv Naylor’s Able Deputy, who finished a disappointing seventh in the Baker Memorial after four victories this year in England. Ross Geraghty will ride for trainer Cyril Murphy.
Also carrying the leading owner’s colors will be Meganisi, a handicap winner in England who finished seventh in a Saratoga optional allowance hurdle in August. Carol-Ann Sloan will ride for trainer William Dowling.
The Plains-based horseman Richard Valentine will send out Jacqueline Ohrstrom’s Private Equity, who was scratched from the Grand National (Gr. 1) last weekend to make his first 2014 start in the Ferguson Memorial. Kieran Norris will ride.
Magalen Bryant, a prominent Middleburg owner-breeder whose V.E. Day won Saratoga’s $1.25-million Travers Stakes (Gr. 1) in August, will be represented by Casual Creeper, who finished third in a Virginia Fall optional allowance hurdle for trainer Jimmy Day. Darren Nagle has the mount.
Who do you like in the David L. “Zeke” Ferguson (Gr. 3)?
Spy in the Sky. 2004 ch. g., Thunder Gulch—Monaassabaat, by Zilzal. Owner: Gregg Ryan. Trainer: George Weaver. Jockey: Tom Foley. 2014 NSA record: 4-0-0-2, $21,500. 2013 NSA record: 7-0-1-0, $25,100. 3-1 odds. Good effort when third in Belmont Park’s $150,000 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) on Sept. 18. Claimed for $30,000 from Saratoga optional claimer in which he finished third. Faded to seventh in A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) on July 31. Drought continued when pulled up in Temple Gwathmey on April 19. Won 2012 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) at 25-1 and 2009 New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1) at 20-1.
Pleasant Woodman. 2008 ch. g., Woodman—Pleasant Sands, by Sandpit (Brz). Owner: Virginia Lazenby and Farm d’Allie Racing Stables. Trainer: Doug Fout. Jockey: Gerard Galligan. 8-1 odds. 2014 record: 5-2-0-2, $96,000. 2013 record: 9-2-1-1, $36,550. Won Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes at Iroquois Steeplechase on May 10 before third in Saratoga’s A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) and fifth in New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1). Front-running winner of Aiken Spring’s $50,000 Budweiser Imperial Cup (Gr. 3) then finished third in $50,000 Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3) after leading over last.
Bob Le Beau (Ire). 2007 dk. b. or. br. g., Big Bad Bob—Shine Silently, by Bering (GB). Owner: The Fields Stable. Trainer: Elizabeth Voss Murray. Jockey: Gus Dahl. 2014 record: 3-0-1-0, $9,450. 4-1 odds. Finished second in Virginia Fall’s W. Gary Baker Memorial on Oct. 4. Finished sixth in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes, his U.S. debut, on July 24 before losing his rider in Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes three weeks later.
Private Equity (Fr). 2008 b. g., High Yield—Annette Girl (Ire), by Mtoto (GB). Owner: Jacqueline Ohrstrom. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Kieran Norris. 2014 record: No starts. 2013 NSA record. 1-0-0-0, $0. 15-1 odds. Making first start of the year. In first U.S. start last year, pulled up in the Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes at Saratoga Race Course. Scratched from Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle on Oct. 18.
Able Deputy (GB). 2007 b. g., Lomitas (GB)—Island Colony, by Pleasant Colony. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. 2014 NSA record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 10-1 entry. In U.S. debut, finished a disappointing seventh in Virginia Fall’s W. Gary Baker Memorial on Oct. 4 despite formidable record from England, where he most recently scored his fourth victory of the year in Worcester’s Toteplacepot Handicap on Aug. 31.
All Together. 2005 b. g., Danzig–Unify, by Farma Way. Owners: Andre W. Brewster and Sheila J. Williams. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Sean McDermott. 2014 record: 6-1-2-0, $53,000. 2013 NSA record: 7-1-3-0, $104,100. 2012 record: 6-0-0-3, $29,000. 9-5 odds. Won Virginia Fall’s W. Gary Baker Memorial by 7 1/4 lengths on Oct. 4. Finished fourth in Belmont Park’s Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) after fourths in Saratoga’s A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) and New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1). Had two second-place finishes in starter hurdles this past spring.
Forgotten Man. 2008 ch. g., Bowman’s Band—Hark the Sound (GB), by Robellino. Owner: Betsy Mead. Trainer: Doug Fout. Jockey: Jeff Murphy. 2014 record: 3-0-1-0, $8,100. 2013 record: 7-1-0-2, $29,850. 15-1 odds. Finished fifth in Virginia Fall’s W. Gary Baker Memorial on Oct. 4. Homebred finished second in Sandhills Cup allowance hurdle at Stoneybrook Steeplechase in North Carolina on April 5, then was fifth in the Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase on April 26. Won 2013 International Gold Cup allowance hurdle.
Casual Creeper (Ire). 2009 b. g., One Cool Cat—Personal Design (Ire), by Traditionally. Owner: Magalen O. Bryant. Trainer: Jimmy Day. Jockey: Darren Nagle. 2014 record: 5-1-0-2, $16,250. 2013 record: 9-1-2-0, $20,900. 20-1 odds. Finished third in Virginia Fall optional allowance hurdle on Oct. 4. Won maiden claimer by 12 lengths at Middleburg Spring meet and then was third in starter race at Virginia Gold Cup on May 3.
Meganisi (Ire). 2007 b. g., Galileo (Ire)—Cland di San Jore, by Lando (Ger). Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: William Dowling. Jockey: Carol-Ann Sloan. 2014 record: 2-0-0-0, $0. 2013 NSA record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 10-1 entry. Finished seventh in July 30 optional allowance hurdle at Saratoga Race Course and was pulled up in similar race on Aug. 20. Handicap winner in England finished seventh in his first U.S. start in 2013 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) at Saratoga Race Course.