Saluter tied timber champion Dosdi with his 20th career victory yesterday, winning the $50,000 International Gold Cup for the second year in a row at the Great Meadow Event Center in The Plains.
Trainer-jockey Jack Fisher guided the 10-year-old bay gelding owned by Ann Stern to a 4 3/4-length win over the small field of Buck Jakes (Jonathan Kiser), the British entry Father Sky (Michael Traurig) and Gold Quoit (Matt McCarron).
Fisher had to learn of Saluter's victory last year from a hospital bed after a farm accident prevented him from riding.
The foursome started slowly, with Saluter behind the pace. Buck Jakes and Gold Quoit traded the lead for the first few circuits over the 3 1/2-mile course, but as they turned to cut up the center five fences out, Saluter shot to the lead with Father Sky close behind. Fisher relinquished the lead three fences out, letting Buck Jakes and Father Sky take the pressure. Then, at the last fence, he surged ahead and crossed the wire in 7 minutes 26 1/5 seconds.
"I was watching the rest of them and they weren't jumping so well so I figured I would follow Buck Jakes. He was the best jumper out there," said Fisher, whose last International Gold Cup victory as a jockey was aboard Call Louis in 1989.
Kiser was impressed with Saluter's performance.
"I have never ridden against Saluter before and I can tell you he is everything they say he is," said Kiser, who started off his day by winning the $25,000 Maryland Million Steeplechase at Laurel Park on Phoenix Stable's Riff.
He also picked up a win for trainer Charlie Fenwick on Exclusive Concorde in the $10,000 Champion Hurdle after the feature.
Kinross Farm picked up two wins, first in the $20,000 Moriah Steeplethon with Jakob's Pal, ridden by trainer Neil Morris, then in the $10,000 VSA Claiming Championship with Antique and McCarron.
Chip Miller rode Kay Jeffords's Turkish Corner to the winner's circle in the $25,000 Future Champions Cup and Sean Clancy started off the day winning the $15,000 Byers Cup on Shamrock Isle for trainer Fisher.