LEESBURG, VA., OCT. 13 -- William Wood's Zaphir took top honors today in the Morven Park Steeplechase Races' $20,000 Arthur McCashin Memorial, crossing the wire just a short head in front of the rallying Molotov in a driving finish.
The 7-year-old New Zealand-bred trained by Janet Elliot had apparently been under the weather in his last race at Rockingham Park in July. In today's 2 1/2-mile feature hurdle race, Zaphir braved deep going that resulted in progressively slower times and more than the usual number of scratches.
Nevertheless, jockey Gerry Newman urged him into third place with three-eighths of a mile to go and launched the winning run from there.
The going "wasn't easy -- it made the horses real tired. Then I almost cut through the beacon coming into the last fence," Newman said. "If I'd got through there, I'd have won a lot more easily."
It was Newman's first time up on the Zaphir; the Irish-born jockey has established a pattern of winning first rides this fall.
W. Gary Baker's Glyn triumphed by 10 lengths in the $10,000 Samuel H. Rogers Memorial, the 3 1/4-mile timber feature. The horse was 1990 timber horse of the year on the Virginia point-to-point circuit. With two timber wins this season, he is proving himself worthy of sanctioned competition, as is his rider-trainer Don Yovanovich, who saddled two winners today.
Michael Dickinson's Le Miel ran 2 1/4 miles in 4:55 to win the $5,000 Westpark Steeplechase, the day's first race.
The closest finish was turned in by Molly Nicoll's Parsonofthehill, who edged Thallium by a nose in the unsanctioned second race.