In a heart-throbbing match race to the wire, Gerry L. Brewster’s Derwins Prospector outfinished a game Drift Society to win Saturday’s 121st running the $100,000 Maryland Hunt Cup, America’s best-known timber race.
Derwins Prospector and Bruton Street-US’s Drift Society were the only competitors remaining after the 21st fence, where Kinross Farm’s Old Timer lost his jockey.
Derwins Prospector and Drift Society jumped the last of 22 fences together, and French amateur jockey Gozangue Cottreau pushed Derwins Prospector toward the finish line. With a sixteenth of a mile remaining, Derwins Prospector gained the advantage over Drift Society, ridden by English jockey Hadden Frost, and gradually increased his narrow advantage.
A nine-year-old Van Nistelrooy gelding, Derwins Prospector ran the Hunt Cup’s four miles in 9:46.20 turf rated as good at the historic Hunt Cup course north of Baltimore.
The win was the second in a row for trainer Joe Davies, who went to the winner’s stand with Senior Senator last year. Senior Senator won the Grand National on April 22 and was favored to claim his second straight victory. With several other starters, Senior Senator was done early after a fall at the third fence.
With nearly three miles to run, only four horses from 10 starters remained in the game, and Our Town—partly owned by Brewster and trained by Davies—lost his rider before the midway point.
The three remaining horses ran in close company while largely jumping well, with Old Timer on the lead most of the way.
But jockey McLane Hendriks came off at the next to last and left Derwins Prospector and Drift Society to fight it out over the last furlong on a warm and slightly muggy afternoon. “That finish was amazing,” Brewster said.
Asked if he believed Derwins Prospector was ready for a big race, he replied: “I knew he was a longshot.” Indeed, the Hunt Cup was Derwin Prospector’s race of a lifetime. He had finished fifth in the Grand National, 27 lengths behind Senior Senator.
The win was his first over fences and his second overall. The Hunt Cup’s $60,000 first-place purse nearly tripled his career purses to $80,190.