Irvin L. “Skip” Crawford’s Senior Senator, making his first sanctioned start since an early exit in last year’s Maryland Hunt Cup, set the early pace in Saturday’s $50,000 Grand National, surrendered the lead, and then surged late to win Saturday’s $50,000 Grand National for a second straight year, again by a 1 1/2-length margin.
Senior Senator, the 2016 Maryland Hunt Cup winner, prevailed over Raven’s Choice, Ann Jackson’s 2015 Hunt Cup winner by disqualification. Black and Blue Stable’s Monstaleur finished third, 6 3/4 lengths farther back in the 3 1/4-mile Grand National, the second jewel of Maryland’s timber triple crown. The Hunt Cup concludes the series next Saturday.
Trained by Joseph G. Davies, Senior Senator again was ridden by Eric Poretz, who guided him to a 1 1/2-length score in last year’s Grand National. Regarded as the favorite to repeat in last year’s Hunt Cup, Senior Senator fell at the third fence.
On a picture-perfect day in Butler, Poretz put Senior Senator on the lead early in the Grand National and opened a four-length advantage on Raven’s Choice, ridden by Mark Beecher. Poretz took his foot off the gas past the midpoint and was briefly passed by Raven’s Choice and Derwins Prospector, the 2017 Hunt Cup winner.
Derwins Prospector, also trained by Davies, lost French amateur jockey Gozangue Cottreau in the late stages, and Senior Senator surged past Raven’s Choice to claim his second straight Grand National victory. Senior Senator ran the distance in 6:05 on firm turf.
Davies and Poretz swept all three races on the Grand National program. They combined for a three-quarter-length victory by Sportsmans Hall’s Hill Tie in the Benjamin H. Murray Memorial, an allowance race over the post-and-rail fences, and a 2 1/2-length win by Frank A. Bonsal Jr.’s Stand Down in the Western Run Plate, which was limited to apprentice jockeys. All three races were restricted to amateur jockeys.