For the second time in three years, jockey Paddy Neilson has taken Virginia's champion point-to-point horse to Fair Hill's sanctioned meeting and vindicated its backers.
Two years ago Liquid Consolation came north to win the Kelso Steeplechase. Today it was Barros Negros winning the Fox catcher Hounds steeplechase.
Dr. Ralph Lynch's 10-year-old Chilean import was less-than-unanimous selection as Virginia'a timber horse of the year three weeks ago but today he was more than the unanimous winner of the Foxcatcher. He covered the 3 1/2 miles in the exceptionally fast time of 7:23.2, defeating the veteran Still In All by six lengths and unknown Traveling Son by eight. The past two Virginia Gold Cup winners, Pat's Gamble and Semington, were fourth and fifth in that order.
"Incredily fast," said Neilsen, the nation's top amateur rider who has compiled an unmatched record in 20 years over timber fences.
"We went inside on the stretch and they came back to us," added Nielson, who won his third Foxcatcher in the eight years of the race. He had won on Bull Kick in 1971 and Stormy Canter in '72.
Nielson was content to race Barros Negros off the blazing early pace set by Steve Hayes on Traveling Son. He moved up to second at the ninth fence, lost it momentarily to Still in All at the 17th when the veteran chaser seemed to be going for its first win of the year in its first start.
Over the 21st and final fence Still In All held the lead with Traveling Son second. But down the long stretch before a crowd of 12,076 Nielson took his dark brown gelding to the inside, caught the leaders 100 yards from home and pulled out to win easily.
Joey Ruhsam became the first girl to win major sanctioned jump stakes race here today when she turned in a sensational ride on ballet Master to win the 10th steeplechase handicap by 2 1/4 lengths over Bell Iman with prerace favorite Tall Award third and Blue Shore fourth.
Ruhsam who graduated from the University of Virginia three years ago was a model before turning seriously to racing this year.