Navy Davy, who fell in last Saturday's Maryland Hunt Cup, won the 53rd running of the Virginia Gold Cup yesterday by three lengths over Art Dom.
Hammurabi II was third and All There Is was a distant fourth.
"We wouldn't have come down if we'd completed the Hunt Cup," said winning jockey Don Yovanovich." We just decided on Monday."
Mrs. Ernest Scott's roan gelding from Unionville, Pa., was the third consecutive out-of-state horse to win Virginia's premier timber steeple-chase. His 9:11.2 was 3.3 seconds off Pat's Gamble winning time of last year.
The Virginia trio of Manca Capac, Estremadura and Sabinus failed to survive the four-mile run over the "good firm course" of Broadview before a crowd of 14,000. So did favored Bel Esprit II and Green Rd.
Sabinus, Rosemarie Bogley's well-backed bay, tripped at the second fence, spilling rider Gregg Morris. Estramadura, top point-to-point horse of the spring, fell at the fourth with rider Doug Fout. Bel Esprit II took out several rails on the tenth and crashed with rider Ross Pearce, cutting itself badly. Sabinus and Estremadura went off at even money.
"Just watch the chestnut now," said a veteran Gold Cup follower after Bel Esprit went down. The chestnut was Manco Capac, the French-bred winner of the Middleburg Hunt Cup, which went off at 1 to 2 under Tommy Skiffington. But the watch wasn't long.
"He hooked the top rail and couldn't get his foot out soon enough," said Skiffington after Manco Capac became a fatality of the 16th fence.
Green Rd., who had been among the leaders all the way, finally ran out of heart at the 19th, took the jump, took two strides and collapsed. "He's okay," said J. B. Secor, brother of rider Steve and winner of the Gold Cup last year. "It was just too much for him."
In the meantime, Yovanovich "kept plugging along" on Navy Davy. "I just laid off the pace," said Yovanovich who was riding in his first Gold Cup, "It was a long race so we just waited."
It wasn't until the 20th jump that Navy Davy went to the top. He passed Hammurabi II who had set the pace after taking over from All There Is at the 12th.
"But I knew I had a horse under me." Yovanovich said. "I know the others fell but I think it would have been hard for any horse to beat us today."