Stewart Strawbridge’s Guts For Garters, dramatic winner of last year’s Maryland Hunt Cup, will shoot for a second straight victory on Saturday when he meets a high-quality field for the 119th running of America’s best-known timber classic.
Trained by Sanna Neilson, Guts For Garters again will be ridden by veteran jockey Jody Petty. The Irish-bred tuned up for the $75,000 Maryland Hunt Cup’s challenging four miles over 21 daunting fences with a second-place finish in Benjamin H. Murray timber allowance race at the Grand National on April 18.
Also in the field is Lucy A. Goelet’s Twill Do, who won the Hunt Cup in 2010 and 2012. Now 15, he will be saddled by trainer Billy Meister and will be ridden by James Stierhoff. They were last of eight in the Grand National, the middle leg of the Maryland Timber Triple Crown.
Upland Partners’ Sovereign Fund won the Murray by 7 1/2 lengths while being lightly urged to the finish line. Annie Yeager has the mount for trainer Todd McKenna.
Also coming off a win at the Grand National meet is Jeremy Batoff’s Major Malibu, who won the Western Run Plate amateur apprentice timber race by 1 1/2 lengths. Justin Batoff will ride for trainer William Dowling.
Tuning for the Hunt Cup in the Grand National were Raven’s Choice and Almarmooq, who finished third and fourth, respectively. Owned by Mrs. Cary W. Jackson, Raven’s Choice is trained by Todd Wyatt and will have leading timber jockey Mark Beecher in the saddle. James Slater rides Irv Naylor’s Almarmooq for trainer Kathy Neilson.
Merriefield Farm’s Imperial Way, nipped a nose by Guts For Garters in the 2014 Hunt Cup, ran into more bad luck when he clipped heels in the Murray and lost rider Bethany Baumgardner, who has the call for the Hunt Cup from trainer Elizabeth Voss.
Here is the field for the 119th Maryland Hunt Cup:
Catch the Echo. 2004 dk. b. or br. g., Eastern Echo—Catch the Varmint, by Spicy Story. Owner: Gerry L. Brewster. Trainer: Blythe Miller Davies. Jockey: Diane Gillam. Breeder: Jack A. Coram (W.Va.). 2015 record: 1-0-0-0, $600. 2014 record: 2-0-0-0, $0. Began 2015 season with fifth in John Rush Streett division at My Lady’s Manor. Lost rider in 2014 Maryland Hunt Cup after seventh in Benjamin H. Murray amateur allowance timber race at Grand National. Lost rider at the 13th fence of the 2013 Maryland Hunt Cup after being placed third in the Murray.
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). 2015 record: 1-0-1-0, $3,600. 2014 record: 2-1-0-0, $45,000. Started 2015 with second in Benjamin H. Murray at the Grand National. 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.
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. Breeders: Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Bowman (Md.). 2015 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2014 record: 2-0-0-0, $3,750. Began 2015 season with eighth-place finish in Grand National. 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.
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.). 2015 record: 1-0-0-0, $1,500. 2014 record: 6-1-3-0, $23,400. Finished a distant fourth in Grand National, his 2015 debut. 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 amateur timber allowance race at Grand National.
Fort Henry (Ire). 2001 b. g., Zaffaran–You Name It, by Le Moss. Owner: Welcome Here Farm. Trainer: Blythe Miller Davies. Jockey: McLane Hendriks. Breeder: R. K. Watson (Ire). 2015 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2014 record: 3-0-0-0, $300. Pulled up in 2015 John D. Schapiro Memorial amateur apprentice timber at My Lady’s Manor. Finished sixth in 2014 Schapiro Memorial, then was pulled up in Maryland Hunt Cup and Willowdale timber race. Finished fourth in 2013 Grand National, then fell at the sixth fence of the Maryland Hunt Cup.
Major Malibu. 2004 b. g., Malibu Moon–Major Barbara, by Salutely. Owner: Jeremy Batoff. Trainer: William Dowling. Jockey: Justin Batoff. Breeder: Tim Durborow (Pa.) 2015 record: 1-1-0-0, $6,000. 2014 record: 4-0-2-0, $7,350. Won Grand National’s Western Run Plate by 1 1/2 lengths to open 2015 season. Finished sixth in 2014 Pennsylvania Hunt Cup after being pulled up in Shawan Downs’ Legacy Chase. Finished second, beaten three-quarters of a length, in Willowdale Steeplechase.
Sovereign Fund. 2006 dk. b. or br. g., Giant’s Causeway—Colonial Play, by Pleasant Colony. Owner: Upland Partners. Trainer: Todd McKenna. Jockey: Annie Yeager. Breeder: Robert S. Evans (Ky.). 2015 record: 1-1-0-0, $12,000. 2014 record: 5-0-0-1, $5,000. Won 2015 Benjamin H. Murray timber allowance race at Grand National. Finished fourth in 2014 Pennsylvania Hunt Cup after third in Martha S. Wadsworth Memorial at Genesee Valley Hunt Races in upstate New York.
Spencer Road. 2006 b. h., Slew City Slew—Snars Good Fortune, by Snars. Owner: Gerry Brewster, Eleanor T. Russell, and Joseph Tydings. Trainer: Blythe Miller Davies. Jockey: Eric Poretz. Breeder: Wendy Mutnick (Pa.) 2015 record: 1-0-0-0, $1,000. 2014 record: 2-1-0-0, $18,000. Finished fourth in 2015 Benjamin H. Murray timber allowance race at Grand National. Won 2014 Grand National before eighth in Virginia Gold Cup. Finished third in 2013 John Rush Streett division at My Lady’s Manor before being disqualified from second for going off course in the Benjamin H. Murray Memorial at Grand National.
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.) 2015 record: 1-0-0-1, $3,000. 2014 record: 3-2-1-0, $29,700. Opened 2015 season with third in Grand National. Won Willowdale Steeplechase in May to close out his 2014 season. Finished second in the first division of the 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.
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.) 2015 record: 1-0-0-0, 500. 2014 record: 2-0-0-0, $0. Finished fourth in Western Run Plate at 2015 Grand National. 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.
Imperial Way. 2005 ch. g., Point Given–Lasha, by Rahy. Owner: Merriefield Farm. Trainer: Elizabeth Voss Murray. Jockey: Bethany Baumgardner. Breeders: McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds, Craig Beam, Cathy Beam, et al. (N.Y.) 2015 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2014 record: 2-0-1-0, $14,300. Lost rider when clipped heels in 2015 Benjamin H. Murray at Grand National. Just missed by a nose in thrilling 2014 Maryland Hunt Cup finish after fifth in Grand National’s Benjamin H. Murray Memorial.
Joshua G. 2006 ch. g., Run Softly—Search for Reality, by Regal Search. Owner-trainer: Jason L. Cole. Jockey: Open. Breeder: Jason L. Cole (Pa.) 2015 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2014 record: 3-1-0-0, $10,400. Finished eighth in My Lady’s Manor, his 2015 debut. Homebred won 2014 Martha S. Wadsworth Memorial maiden timber race at the Genesee Valley Hunt Races in New York, then was fifth in the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup.
Mr Tack. 2002 dk. B. or br. g., Mr. Greeley—Always Red, by Eastern Echo. Owner: Straylight Racing. Trainer: Blythe Miller Davies. Jockey: Alex Laventhal. Breeder: Lucky Shamrock (Ky.). 2015 record: 2-0-0-0, $1,200. 2014 record: No starts. Opened 2015 with fifth-place finishes in John D. Schapiro at My Lady’s Manor and Benjamin H. Murray at Grand National. Won Willowdale timber allowance in 2013.