Senior Senator, the reigning Maryland Hunt Cup victor, has been nominated for a shot at retiring the Hunt Cup trophy for owner Irvin “Skip” Crawford. The brilliant gelding, now nine, is among 24 early nominees to the 123rd running of the four-mile timber classic on Saturday, April 27.
A Pennsylvania-bred by Domestic Dispute, Senior Senator is trained by Joe Davies, who has won the last three editions of the Hunt Cup. Senior Senator won in 2016 and last year, while Gerry L. Brewster’s Derwins Prospector scored an upset victory in 2017.
Derwins Prospector, who fell late in last year’s Hunt Cup, is nominated to this year’s race, as is Raven’s Choice, who was placed first on a disqualification in the 2015 Hunt Cup.
Ridden by amateur Eric Poretz, Senior Senator won the 2016 Hunt Cup a week after a wild run in the Grand National, in which the strong-willed gelding won by more than 10 lengths but was disqualified for interference.
He attempted back-to-back Hunt Cup wins in 2017 but fell at the tall third fence. Although he seemed fine after the race, Senior Senator’s veterinarian, Dr. Cooper Williams, suggested X-rays, and Davies readily agreed.
The X-rays disclosed a serious neck fracture that was surgically repaired at the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School’s New Bolton Center. Dr. Dean Richardson, who operated on Barbaro after his 2007 breakdown in the Preakness Stakes (Gr. 1), performed the surgery.
Senior Senator was back to his usual self last year. He won the Grand National for the second straight year and then won the Hunt Cup by five lengths on a soft course.
Also nominated to the Hunt Cup were Armata Stables’ Joshua G., who finished second for trainer Kathy Neilson last year, and Bruton Street-US’s Drift Society, who finished third after a second in 2017. Trained by Jack Fisher, Drift Society also had finished third in 2016.
Raven’s Choice, owned by Ann Jackson, went to the winner’s circle in one of the more unusual twists in Hunt Cup history. Trained by Todd Wyatt, Raven’s Choice finished second, beaten a half-length by Imperial Way in 2015. But Imperial Way lost some saddle-pad weights over a fence and was disqualified from the victory.
Here are brief profiles of the 24 Hunt Cup nominees.
Battle Aray. 2008 b. g., Johar—Stormy Monday, by Storm Cat. Owner: Merriefield Farm. Trainer: William S. Meister. Breeder: Two Hearts Farm (Ky.) 2018 record: No starts. 2017 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. Missed the 2018 season after being pulled up in his only 2017 start, in the Grand National’s Benjamin H. Murray timber allowance. In return to the races after missing 2015 season, won 2016 Genesee Valley maiden timber race, then was fifth in Pennsylvania Hunt Cup timber allowance.
Biedermeier. 2011 b. g., Empire Maker—Back Bay Dixie, by Dixieland Band. Owner: Riverdee Stable. Trainer: Todd Wyatt. Breeder: Sienna Farms (Ky.) 2018 record: 3-1-0-0, $13,500. In first season of racing over fences, was placed first in a Pennsylvania Hunt Cup timber allowance. Finished fourth in two maiden starts, at Willowdale and Virginia Fall. Had three wins on the flat prior to his jumps debut.
Class Indian. 2007 gr. or ro. g., Waquoit—Class Story, by Class Secret. Owner: Jeremy A. Batoff. Trainer: William Dowling. Breeder: Mede Cahaba Stable and Stud (Va.). 2018 record: 2-0-0-0, $1,650. 2017 record: 5-1-1-0, $13,650. 2016 record: 3-1-0-1, $14,000. 2015 record: 4-1-0-2, $14,000. Finished sixth in 2018 Winterthur Bowl and John D. Schapiro Memorial amateur apprentice timber at My Lady’s Manor. Fell while leading in 2017 Genesee Valley Hunt Cup. Won 2017 Schapiro, then was fourth in Grand National’s Western Run Plate and second in Winterthur amateur apprentice timber allowance. Won 2016 Queen’s Cup timber allowance.
Daddy in the Dark. 2010 b. g., Bernardini—Appealing Zophie, by Successful Appeal. Owner: H. Bruce Fenwick. Trainer: H. Bruce Fenwick. Breeder: My Meadowview (Ky.). 2018 record: 3-0-0-0, $5,750. 2017 record: 2-1-0-0, $9,750. Finished well-beaten fourth in 2018 Willowdale Steeplechase. Finished fifth in the 2018 Virginia Gold Cup after seventh in Grand National’s Benjamin H. Murray Memorial amateur timber allowance. Won a 2017 Pennsylvania Hunt Cup maiden timber by more than 32 lengths after beginning his career with a fourth over timber at the Virginia Fall Races. Raced on the flat in Maryland and specialized in off tracks.
Derwins Prospector. 2008 ch. g., Van Nistelrooy—Stringtown Sally, by Crafty Prospector. Owner: Gerry L. Brewster. Trainer: Joseph Davies. Breeders: Patricia Lagden and Devi Hall (Ky.). 2018 record: 2-0-0-0, $0. 2017 record: 2-1-0-0, $61,200. 2016 record: 4-0-1-1, $5,100. Fell late in the 2018 Grand National before fall at 18th fence in Maryland Hunt Cup. Won the 2017 Maryland Hunt Cup by three-quarters of a length in a stirring stretch battle. Finished fifth in the 2017 Grand National. Finished sixth in 2016 Grand National, then lost rider in Maryland Hunt Cup.
Drift Society (Ire). 2008 b. g., Jackson’s Drift—Tansey Yearwood (Ire), by Moscow Society. Owner: Bruton Street-US. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Breeder: Eleanor Bennett (Ire). 2018 record: 2-0-0-1, $11,500. 2017 record: 2-0-3-0, $23,400. 2016 record: 3-1-1-1, $23,500. Finished distant third in 2018 Maryland Hunt Cup after second by three-quarters of a length in 2017 Hunt Cup. Finished fourth in 2018 My Lady’s Manor. Won 2016 John D. Schapiro amateur apprentice allowance at My Lady’s Manor, then finished good third in Maryland Hunt Cup.
Foyle. 2005 dk. b. or br. g., Yarrow Brae–Londonderry, by Perfecting. Owner: Merriefield Farm. Trainer: Bruce Fenwick. Breeder: Martha Hopkins (Md.) 2018 record: No starts. 2017 record: 1-0-0-0, $1,200. Finished fifth in 2017 My Lady’s Manor. Finished 10th in 2016 My Lady’s Manor, then lost rider in Maryland Hunt Cup. Fell while leading the 2014 Maryland Hunt Cup. In only other 2014 start, finished second by a nose in the Grand National. Won the 2013 timber championship with late-season victories in the International Gold Cup (as 11.60-1 longshot) and Pennsylvania Hunt Cup.
Gas Can Eddie. 2007 ch. g., Maria’s Mon—Donnan’s Holly, by Dixieland Band. Owner: Mrs. William D. Class Jr. Trainer: William Meister. Breeder: Bohemia Stable (Md.) 2018 record: 2-0-0-0, $0. 2017 record: 2-0-0-0, $450. Fell late in 2018 Grand National and lost rider at 12th fence of Maryland Hunt Cup. Finished distant sixth in 2017 Willowdale maiden after bolting in division of John Rush Streett Memorial maiden timber race at 2017 My Lady’s Manor.
Grand Manan. 2009 b. g., Giant’s Causeway—Manoa, by Seeking the Gold. Owner: Armata Stables. Trainer: William Meister. Breeders: Stuart S. Janney III and Phipps Stable (Ky.). 2018: 5-0-0-1, $6,200. 2017 record: 5-0-3-0, $28,500. 2016 record: 4-3-0-0, $82,950. Finished third in 2018 New Jersey Hunt Cup after fifth in Radnor Hunt Cup on very soft ground. Pulled up in Pennsylvania Hunt Cup. Finished second in 2017 International Gold Cup and National Sporting Library and Museum Cup. Closed 2016 season with back-to-back front-running victories in the Genesee Valley Hunt Cup and International Gold Cup.
Hill Tie. 2010 b. g., Dance With Ravens—Ready for Love, by Not For Love. Owner: Sportsmans Hall. Trainer: Joseph G. Davies. Breeders: Corbett Farm and John B. Secor (Md.) 2018 record: 3-1-1-0, $17,700. 2017 record: 1-0-0-1, $1,500. Finished sixth in 2018 Virginia Gold Cup. Won his maiden victory in Grand National’s 2018 Benjamin H. Murray Memorial amateur timber allowance after second in John Rush Streett maiden timber at My Lady’s Manor.
Jeffery G. 2007 ch. g., Awad—Search for Reality, by Regal Search. Owner-trainer: Jason L. Cole. Breeder: Jason L. Cole (Pa.). 2018 record: 3-0-0-0, $2,100. 2017 record: No starts. Finished fourth in maiden timber races at 2018 Genesee Valley and Pennsylvania Hunt Cup meets. In comeback race after missing the 2017 season, finished fifth in a division of the John Rush Streett maiden timber.
Joshua G. 2006 ch. g., Run Softly—Search for Reality, by Regal Search. Owner: Armata Stables. Trainer: Kathy Neilson. Breeder: Jason L. Cole (Pa.) 2018 record: 2-0-1-0, $20,000. 2017 record: 2-0-0-0, $1,050. Finished second, beaten five lengths, in 2018 Maryland Hunt Cup after fifth in Grand National. Fell at sixth fence of 2017 Maryland Hunt Cup, then was last of six in Willowdale Steeplechase. Finished fourth in 2016 Grand National, then fell in Maryland Hunt Cup and finished third in Willowdale amateur allowance timber.
Our Town. 2009 gr. or ro. g., Purim—Eurosceptic, by Cozzene. Owners: Gerry Brewster, George Tydings, and Richard F. Blue Jr. Trainer: Joseph Davies. Breeder: F. Bruce Miller (Pa.) 2018 record: No starts. 2017 record: 3-0-0-0, $600. 2016 record: 3-0-1-0, $4,050. Unseated jockey early in 2017 Maryland Hunt Cup after seventh in Grand National’s Benjamin H. Murray Memorial amateur allowance timber race. Pulled up in 2016 Virginia Gold Cup after finishing third and placed second in 2016 Murray.
Out Playing. 2010 b. g., Outlanker—Dancing Ballade, by Devil’s Bag. Owner: Donald Cochran. Trainer: Todd McKenna. Breeder: Daybreak Stables (W.Va.) 2018 record: 2-0-0-0, $600. 2017 record: 2-0-0-0, $450. Finished fifth in 2018 John D. Schapiro Memorial at My Lady’s Manor and then was pulled up in Grand National’s Benjamin Murray Memorial. Finished sixth in the 2017 John Rush Streett Memorial at the Manor and was eighth in the Murray. Looking for career maiden win.
Pocket Talk (Ire). 2010 dk. b. or br. g., Alkaadhem—Glen Supreme, by Supreme Leader. Owner: Kinross Farm. Trainer: Joseph G. Davies. Breeder: A. R. M. M. Kavanagh (Ire). 2018 record: 2-0-0-1, $2,750. In first career start, finished fourth in 2018 John Rush Streett division at My Lady’s Manor and then third in Grand National’s Benjamin Murray Memorial amateur allowance timber.
Prime Prospector. 2008 b. g., Seeking the Gold—Remember Love, by A.P. Indy. Owner: Peter A. and Sarah M. Jay. Trainer: Todd Wyatt. Breeder: Woodford Thoroughbreds (Ky.) 2018 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2017 record: 3-1-0-0, $10,750. Lost rider at 14th fence in 2018 Maryland Hunt Cup. Won a 2017 Willowdale timber allowance after fourth-place finishes at My Lady’s Manor and Grand National. Finished third in 2016 International Gold Cup.
Raven’s Choice. 2007 dk. b. or br. g., Dance With Ravens—Millashand, by Regal Intention. Owner: Ann Jackson. Trainer: Todd Wyatt. Breeder: Cary W. Jackson (Md.) 2018 record: 2-0-1-0, $10,400. 2017 record: 3-0-0-1, $3,300. Finished second in 2018 Grand National, then was fifth in Willowdale Steeplechase. Finished third in 2017 Grand National. Won 2016 Grand National, then fell at 16th fence in Maryland Hunt Cup. Placed first in 2015 Maryland Hunt Cup after finishing close second. Won 2014 Willowdale Steeplechase.
Ride Away. 2011 b. g., Candy Ride (Arg)—East Hampton, by Meadowlake. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Katherine Neilson. Breeder: Pin Oak Stud (Ky.) 2018 record: 3-0-0-1, $2,000. 2017 record: 3-1-1-0, $12,300. Finished third in 2018 Pennsylvania Hunt Cup timber allowance after seventh in Shawan Downs’ Legacy Chase and being pulled up in Virginia Fall’s Steeplethon. Easily won 2017 Winterthur amateur allowance timber allowance before second in similar race at Willowdale.
Senior Senator. 2010 b. g., Domestic Dispute—Queen Kennelot, by Awesome Again. Owner: Irvin L. Crawford II. Trainer: Joseph Davies. Breeder: Charles C. D. McGill (Pa.) 2018 record: 2-2-0-0, $90,000. 2017 record: 2-1-0-0, $18,000. Won his second Maryland Hunt Cup victory in 2018 after coming back from neck surgery. Won 2018 Grand National for second consecutive year. Fell at third fence of 2017 Maryland Hunt Cup. Won 2016 Maryland Hunt Cup after setting most of the pace.
Sovereign Fund. 2006 dk. b. or br. g., Giant’s Causeway—Colonial Play, by Pleasant Colony. Owner: Upland Partners. Trainer: Todd McKenna. Breeder: Robert S. Evans (Ky.) 2018 record: 2-0-0-0, $1,500. 2017 record: No starts. In first start since 2015, finished sixth in 2018 Grand National before fall at Maryland Hunt Cup’s 20th fence. Finished fourth in 2015 Pennsylvania Hunt Cup for second straight year. Finished second in 2015 Willowdale Steeplechase after win in Grand National’s Benjamin H. Murray Memorial timber allowance race.
Sumo Power. 2006 dk. b. or br. g., Dynaformer—Connie’s Spirit, by Theatrical (Ire). Owner: Rosman Mackenzie. Trainer: Lia McGuirk. Breeder: Mercedes Stable (Ky.). 2018 record: No starts. 2017 record: 4-0-1-1, $8,300. Finished fifth in Pennsylvania Hunt Cup after second in Genesee Valley Hunt Cup. Finished third in 2017 Willowdale timber allowance after ninth in Grand National’s Benjamin H. Murray Memorial. Had two wins over hurdles and won Western Run Plate at 2015 Grand National.
Vintage Vinnie (Ire). 2009 b. g., Vinnie Roe (Ire)—Bobby’s Jet, by Bob’s Return. Owner: Armata Stables. Trainer: Joseph G. Davies. Breeder: Carmel Hennessy (Ire). 2018 record: 1-0-1-0, $2,700. 2017 NSA record: No starts. In only U.S. start, finished second in division of 2018 John Rush Streett Memorial at My Lady’s Manor. Winner of an Aintree steeplechase by 22 lengths in June 2017, he subsequently was unplaced in the Galway Plate Steeplechase.
Wildcatter. 2008 dk. b. or br. g., Tale of the Cat—Cita My Dear, by Kris S. Owner: Armata Stables. Trainer: Elizabeth Voss. Breeder: Ramona S. Bass (Ky.) 2018 record: 2-0-0-0, $0. 2017 record: 2-0-0-1, $3,000. 2016 record: No starts. 2015 record: 3-1-0-0, $18,000. Pulled up in 2018 My Lady’s Manor and refused fence late in Maryland Hunt Cup. Finished third in the 2017 Radnor Hunt Cup after falling in Grand National. Finished second and placed first in 2015 Radnor Hunt Cup.
Witor (Ger). 2008 b. g., Dashing Blade—Wurfspeil, by Lomitas (GB). Owner: Blair Wyatt. Trainer: Todd Wyatt. Breeder: Gestut Farhof (Ger). 2018 record: 2-1-0-1, $13,000. 2017 record: 2-1-0-0, $10,250. Won 2018 John D. Schapiro Memorial amateur apprentice timber, then was third in Winterthur Bowl. Scored maiden timber victory at 2017 Willowdale meet and then was fourth in a Fair Hill timber novice.