Slip Away stepped up in company and scored his most impressive lifetime win in Sunday’s $50,000 David L. Zeke Ferguson Memorial (Gr. III) Steeplechase Stakes at Colonial Downs.

Slip Away brought a five race winning streak into the Zeke Ferguson event Sunday, though all his recent triumphs came in either claiming or starter allowance jump events. With Preemptive Strike out, Slip Away had no other competition for the early pace, and the six-year-old Skip Away gelding easily got to the front and opened by as many as fifteen lengths at the halfway point of the race.

“I didn’t expect to be that far out in front,” said rider Chip Miller. “The hardest part was trying to gauge where the other horses were. Normally, you can hear the hooves of the trailing horses as they land right after the jump, but I couldn’t hear them today.”

Though Slip Away’s margin did diminish to five lengths in the stretch, he bore down as the field grew closer and maintained that lead to the finish in gaining his first stakes win. The victor is trained by Thomas Voss and is owned by Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey, who also owned former Virginia Derby winner Kittens Joy. Ironically, the $50,000 Kittens Joy Stakes is part of the ’09 Derby under card this coming Saturday. The winner returned $5.80.

Bill Pape’s Mixed Up , a Jonathan Sheppard trainee whose $600,000-plus bankroll topped the field, finished second, while Mrs. S. K. Johnson, Jr.’s Swagger Stick was third for trainer Jack Fisher.