The 43rd running of the Middleburg Bowl turned into a survival race worthy of the British Grand National steeplechase with St. Denis emerging as the No. 1 survivor.
Roy (Tennessee) Graham's lightly raced 8-year-old covered the 3 1/4-mile Glenwood Park timber course in 6:57, finishing the muddy 18-jump grind 12 lengths in front of Conserje, with Tasos, Laughing Dragon and Lazy, Condor following in behind in that order.
"He's easy to ride," said Graham, "and I know we'd have been up there even if the others hadn't gone down." It was only the second start for St. Denis in more than a year after winning at Foxfield in 1979. "He's going for the (Virginia) Gold Cup (on May 2)," said Graham.
It was the fastest time for the race, feature of the Middleburg Hunt point-to-point meeting witnessed by almost 5,000, since Manco Capac's 6:45 in 1978. The last two years the winning time has been more than seven minutes.
Eleven horses started; five finished. Problems began at the first fence when Jet's Demon refused and the rider was tossed. It continued to the last fence when Worthy of Love, making what looked like a winning move, clipped the boards and went down.
In between -- at the 12th fence in front of the stands -- Emperor and Baltic Baron crashed with Jesse's Ghost, whose rider fell. Later, Chatex was pulled up.
Randy Waterman, who went down with Emperor in the feature, had scored an impressive double in winning both of the owner-rider events on the card.