A strong field that includes 2014 Maryland Hunt Cup winner Guts For Garters and two-time Hunt Cup winner Twill Do will face off Saturday in the 113th running of the $30,000 Grand National, the middle jewel of the Maryland Timber Triple Crown. First post time at the Butler course is 3:15 p.m.
Stewart Strawbridge’s Guts For Garters would be making his first start since prevailing by a nose in last year’s Hunt Cup over Imperial Way, who also was entered for the historic 3 1/4-mile Grand National. Jody Petty again will ride Guts For Garters for trainer Sanna Neilson.
Merriefield Farm’s Imperial Way, trained by Elizabeth Voss, also would be making his first start since the 2014 Hunt Cup.
Lucy Goelet’s venerable veteran Twill Do, now 15, finished fourth in last year’s Hunt Cup after being pulled up in the Grand National. In the saddle for trainer Billy Meister will be James Stierhoff, who rode Twill Do to victories in the 2010 and 2012 Hunt Cup.
Leading trainer Jack Fisher named Connor Hankin to ride Arcadia Stable’s Delta Park, winner of the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup in his final 2014 start. The Johannesburg gelding finished third in last year’s Grand National.
Almarmooq will carry the silks of Irv Naylor, the National Steeplechase Association’s champion owner in four of the past five years. Trainer Kathy Neilson named James Slater to ride the Dynaformer gelding, who closed out the 2014 season with a victory in the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup’s Arthur O. Choate Jr. timber allowance.
Armata Stables, last year’s champion timber owner, was represented in the entries by Cornhusker and Brother Sy, who finished seventh and eighth, respectively, in the My Lady’s Manor on April 11.
Snow Blizzard, owned by trainer Nancy Knox’s Equinox Stable, opened the 2015 season with a victory in the John D. Schapiro amateur apprentice timber race at My Lady’s Manor.
Here is the field for the 113th Grand National:
Almarmooq. 2007 dk. b. or br. g., Dynaformer–Tuscoga, by Theatrical (Ire). Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Kathy Neilson. Jockey: James Slater. Breeder: Stone Farm (Ky.) 2014 record: 6-1-3-0, $23,400. Capped busy 2014 fall season with victory in Pennsylvania Hunt Cup’s Arthur O. Choate Jr. timber allowance after second in timber allowance at International Gold Cup. Also had second-place finishes in Willowdale timber allowance race and Benjamin H. Murray Memorial amateur timber allowance race at Grand National.
Twill Do. 2000 dk. b. or br. g., Yarrow Brae–A Little Wild, by Wild Again. Owner: Lucy A. Goelet. Trainer: William Meister. Jockey: James Stierhoff. 2014 record: 2-0-0-0, $3,750. Breeders: Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Bowman. Finished fourth in 2014 Maryland Hunt Cup after being pulled up in Grand National. Finished fourth in 2013 Maryland Hunt Cup after seventh in Grand National. Won the Maryland Hunt Cup in 2010 and 2012.
Dont Tell Sailor (Ire). 2006 b. g., Saddlers’ Hall (Ire)—Pharlen’s Dream, by Phardante (Fr). Owner: Rosbrian Farm. Trainer: Paddy Neilson. Jockey: Martin Rohan. Breeder: Edmond Coleman (Ire). 2014 record: 3-1-0-1, $12,500. Won a maiden timber race at Willowdale last May, finished fourth in the International Gold Cup’s timber allowance race, and was third in the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup’s timber allowance.
Delta Park. 2004 b. g., Johannesburg–Excedius, by Seattle Dancer. Owner: Arcadia Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Connor Hankin. Breeders: Earl Silver and Michael Eiserman (Ky.) 2014 record: 4-1-0-1, $24,800. Won the 2014 Pennsylvania Hunt Cup after second in previous year. Finished third in the Grand National before fall in Maryland Hunt Cup. Won 2012 Radnor Hunt Cup and 2011 New Jersey Hunt Cup.
Serene Harbor. 2003 b. g., Valley Crossing—We Wak Harbor, by Waquoit. Owner: Welcome Here Farm. Trainer: Todd McKenna. Jockey: Annie Yeager. Breeder: Nina Gardner (Pa.). 2014 record: 3-2-0-0, $21,000. Closed 2014 season with a runaway victory in Genesee Valley Hunt Cup. Returned to the races after a nearly two-year break and won a Winterthur timber allowance race, then was distant seventh in Fair Hill novice timber.
Cornhusker (GB). 2007 b. g., Dynaformer–Nebraska Tornado, by Storm Cat. Owner: Armata Stables. Trainer: Alicia Murphy. Jockey: Open. Breeder: Juddmonte Farms (GB). 2015 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2014 record: 5-2-1-0, $50,300. Opened 2015 season with seventh in My Lady’s Manor. Made successful transition to timber racing in 2014 and won Iroquois Steeplechase’s $50,000 Mason Houghland Memorial after score in Middleburg Hunt Cup open timber race. Lost rider in Virginia Fall’s National Sporting Library & Museum Cup and finished fifth in New Jersey Hunt Cup. Ended 2014 season with second in Pennsylvania Hunt Cup.
Raven’s Choice. 2007 dk. b. or br. g., Dance With Ravens—Millashand, by Regal Intention. Owner: Mrs. Cary W. Jackson. Trainer: Todd Wyatt. Jockey: Mark Beecher. Breeder: Cary W. Jackson (Md.) 2014 record: 3-2-1-0, $29,700. Won Willowdale Steeplechase in May to close out his 2014 season. Finished second in the first division of the 2014 John Rush Streett maiden timber race at My Lady’s Manor and then won Benjamin H. Murray Memorial amateur timber race at the Grand National meet a week later.
Imperial Way. 2005 ch. g., Point Given–Lasha, by Rahy. Owner: Merriefield Farm. Trainer: Elizabeth Voss. Jockey: Bethany Baumgardner. Breeders: McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds, Craig Beam, Cathy Beam, et al. (N.Y.) 2014 record: 2-0-1-0, $14,300. Just missed by a nose in thrilling 2014 Maryland Hunt Cup finish after fifth in Grand National’s Benjamin H. Murray Memorial.
Guts For Garters (Ire). 2003 br. g., Presenting—Askynn, by Beau Sher. Owner: Stewart Strawbridge. Trainer: Sanna Neilson. Jockey: Jody Petty. Breeder: Keith Douglas (Ire). 2014 record: 2-1-0-0, $45,000. Won the 2014 Maryland Hunt Cup by a nose with a determined late drive. In only other 2014 start, finished eighth in 2014 Benjamin H. Murray amateur allowance timber race at Grand National. Finished third in 2012 Virginia Gold Cup.
Brother Sy. 2005 b. g., Syncline—Cozy Rhythm, by Cozzene. Owner: Armata Stables. Trainer: Todd Wyatt. Jockey: Open. Breeders: Mr. & Mrs. Randolph L. Rolfe (Pa.). 2015 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2014 record: 6-2-2-1, $18,900. Finished eighth in the My Lady’s Manor at start of 2015 season. Ended 2014 with third-place finish in Colonial Cup’s Springdale open timber after seconds in Virginia Fall’s National Sporting Library & Museum Cup and Far Hills’ New Jersey Hunt Cup. Won 2014 Willowdale amateur allowance timber race and Grand National’s Western Run Plate amateur apprentice timber race.
Snow Blizzard (Ire). 2007 b. g., Sadler’s Wells–Pescia (Ire), by Darshaan (GB). Owner: Equinox Farm. Trainer: Nancy G. Knox. Jockey: Bethany Baumgardner. Breeder: Barronstown Stud (Ire). 2015 record: 1-1-0-0, $6,000. 2014 record: 3-0-1-0, $6,800. Won John D. Schapiro Memorial amateur apprentice timber allowance at My Lady’s Manor to open 2015 season. Finished second in a 2014 Pennsylvania Hunt Cup timber allowance after distant second in Genesee Valley Hunt Cup. In only 2013 start, won the Schapiro Memorial.
Senior Senator. 2010 b. g., Domestic Dispute—Queen Kennelot, by Awesome Again. Owner: Irvin L. Crawford II. Trainer: Blythe Miller Davies. Jockey: Eric Poretz. Breeder: Charles C. D. McGill (Pa.) 2015 record: 1-0-1-0, $5,400. 2014 record: 3-1-1-0, $12,000. Closed late to finish second in 2015 My Lady’s Manor. Won maiden victory at 2014 Pennsylvania Hunt Cup after second in Martha S. Wadsworth at Genesee Valley meet in New York.
Brands Hatch. 2001 dk. b. or br. g., A.P. Indy–Watch Out, by Mr. Prospector. Owner: Gerry L. Brewster. Trainer: Blythe Miller Davies. Jockey: Adair Bonsal Stifel. Breeders: Gaines-Gentry Thoroughbreds, Pacelco S.A., and Chelston Ireland (Ky.) 2014 record: 2-0-0-0, $0. Fell at the ninth fence of the 2014 Maryland Hunt Cup after going off course in Grand National’s Western Run Plate amateur apprentice timber race.