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Longshot Inti upsets in Ferguson; Lillehammer breezes to win for Daltons

Posted: June 9, 2013 10:09 a.m.
Updated: June 10, 2013 5:00 a.m.

Meritage Racing’s Inti collected the biggest victory of his racing career on Saturday, 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 Camden-based rider 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 former steeplechase jockey Cyril Murphy, Inti ran the distance in 4:25.20 on Colonial’s spacious turf course.
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.
Camden owner-trainer Kate Dalton’s Cat Feathers overtook Mr. Hot Stuff in the stretch to collect third money under Dalton’s husband, 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.
Inti paid $49.80, $13.40 and $7.40.
Dalton’s score in first race at Colonial: Lillehammer, a 5-year-old mare trained by Kate Dalton and ridden by her husband Bernie won Saturday’s first of three steeplechase races --- $20,000 maiden special weight --- run over the Colonial Downs course.
Owned by Riverdee Stables, Lillehammer went to the front of the starting field of 10 jumpers at the third fence and went on to an easy 12-length romp in the 2 ¼-mile chase in a time of 4:23.96.
Lillehammer paid $26.00, $10.60 and $5.80.
In the middle race of the three chases, Virginia Friendship Farm’s Cognashene won a $20,000 maiden for trainer Neil Morris who gave Jacob Roberts the leg up.
The stop at Colonial Downs marked the end of the spring campaign for the National Steeplechase Association. The circuit will have a 17-day break before racing resumes with a stop at Parx Racing in Bensalem, Pa., on Tuesday, June 25 to kick off the summer season of chasing.

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