FAIR HILL -- Jonathan Sheppard, the nation's champion steeplechase trainer 17 times, extended his lead for the 1990 title by sending out the gelding, Yaw, to win the $25,000 Manly Challenge Cup at Fair Hill yesterday.
The 8-year-old son of Seattle Slew led virtually all of 16 fenceand 2 3/8 miles, and finished 4 3/4 lengths in front of Senator Brady, the second choice who stalked the leader all the way.
Third came Morewoods, followed by Cadent and Make AzilianThe morning-line favorite, Victorian Hill, was scratched, as was Double Barrel.
As favorite of the five starters, Yaw paid $4.60 at the only hunmeeting in the East with pari-mutuel gambling.
The triumph, with Jonathan Smart aboard, appeared to earn William Entenmann's horse a starting berth in the $250,000 Breeders' Cup Steeplechase at Belmont Park on Oct. 20.
"The American horses are pretty well bunched up," Shepparsaid of the prospective Breeders' Cup field.
"I suppose the Irish mare, Grabel, will be the best in thBreeders' Cup. She ran so well at Dueling Grounds in that $750,000 race, and I hear she's coming back. I told Mr. Entenmann that if Yaw ran well in the Manly, he would deserve a chance at them."
Sheppard sent Yaw out to be fourth Aug. 3 at Saratoga RacCourse.
"He needed something before today, so I ran him at DelawarPark on the turf," Sheppard said. "The horse ran fourth [at Delaware], but he needed the race to get some speed into him. I wouldn't be surprised if that race didn't make him win today."
Yaw was bought by Entenmann for an undisclosed price whethe gelding was a 3-year-old.
"He's by Seattle Slew and we bought him from the Slew Crew,Sheppard said, referring to the Hill and Taylor families that raced Seattle Slew to win the 1977 Triple Crown.
"I think I bought him unraced and sight unseen," the trainer said"He was in Ocala, Fla., when we got him. He was sent to Camden [S.C.], and we immediately tried to make a jumper out of him. He caught on well."
In winning the Manly, Yaw scored his eighth victory in 29 careestarts. He has earned $117,956.
Sheppard recorded his 17th winning steeplechase race of thseason. Burling Cocks, who saddled one winner yesterday, is second with 15.
Yaw was supposed to be ridden by Ben Guessford, who wanamed when the gelding was entered as a supplementary nomination.
"But Bennie is semiretired now, and he told me he didn't think hwould be quite fit enough so I put Jonathan on him," Sheppard said.
John Bosley, who trains eight runners on the flat at Pimlico Race Course, booted Joe's O.K. to victory in yesterday's Tiger Bennett timber race, over three miles.
Joe's O.K. beat a field of maidens, some of whom are likely tremain so for a while.
Timber racing at Fair Hill consists of small jumps, with the fenceseeming to collapse upon contact. The first horse to hit a fence would knock out at least the top panel and the others would follow through.
Bosley kept Joe's O.K. back in third place, then sent th7-year-old gelding surging forward on the final turn.