Diplomat Wins Last Saturday’s Grade 3 “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial Steeplechase Stakes

It doesn’t qualify as an “American Trilogy”, but Diplomat got to the winners circle for the third time in the U.S. this year and second since being claimed by the Flying Elvis Stable, in last Saturday’s $50,000 David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial Steeplechase Stakes (Gr. III) at Great Meadow. The 2 1/8 miles stakes highlighted the under card of the annual fall International Gold Cup Day of five steeplechase and four flat events.

Diplomat, sent off as the 2-1 second favorite in a field of seven, was making his 7th start this year since being imported from England after his 2014 campaign. The 6 year old son of Kitten’s Joy, who was bred by Ken & Sarah Ramsey, didn’t come on until the stretch when rider Bernald Dalton led a late surge past four frontrunners. Diplomat crossed six lengths ahead of the consistent runner-up Gustavian in 4:11.0.

Diplomat wins 2015  Zeke Ferguson NSA Stakes

Diplomat wins 2015 Zeke Ferguson NSA Stakes

This is the running style our horse needs to duplicate every race now,” said Diplomat’s co-owner Adam Newman who claimed the horse three starts ago. “He was last through most of it today, saved some energy and just came home big. In his last three starts, he’s got to the front and did win the race we claimed him in at Saratoga, but tired late in the other two. We had our eye on him through the whole Saratoga meet and were really surprised he was in for a tag” (on September 2nd).

Newman, who with his younger brother makes up the Flying Elvis Stable, collected his first ever graded stakes win. “My father was into thoroughbred racing with his brother for decades as an owner, so we grew up in the business,” said Newman. “With Diplomat, my brother and I purchased our first steeplechase horse and as it turns out, it’s probably the best bred horse we’ve ever owned. I know this doesn’t happen often,” added Newman when referencing the big victory so soon after purchasing his first steeplechase horse. “I’m not a big fan of claiming, and it doesn’t seem to be a big part of the steeplechase game, but we waited for the right moment and got the right horse.”

Diplomat is trained by Kate Dalton and with the win, sports a 2015 bankroll of $125,000. The name of Newman’s stable came about through random brainstorming with his brother. “With a steeplechase horse, we wanted something with the word soaring, jumping or flying in it. And one of my favorite movies is “Honeymoon In Vegas”, where a bunch of Elvis impersonators end up skydiving.” And that’s how the Flying Elvis Stable came to be.

Gustavian, a 9 year old Giant’s Causeway gelding, earned his 21st “in the money finish” by finishing second and Able Duty, who was making his first start since winning the 2014 “Zeke” Ferguson Stakes, was third.