On Saturday, April 27 at 4 pm the famed Maryland Hunt Cup was run under clear skies on Tufton Avenue. Nine horses and riders went to the start but the heavy favorite was two-time winner Senior Senator. Senior Senator, owned by Irvin L. Crawford II and trained by Joseph Davies, won the Hunt Cup for the first time in 2016 over Guts for Garters and Drift Society. He came back next year in 2017 but fell at the third fence and suffered a neck injury that required surgery. Miraculously, he came back to conquer the course again in 2018 and defeated Joshua G and Drift Society by five lengths. All eyes were on him again this year as he attempted to make history and win a third Maryland Hunt Cup.
Senior Senator started his 2019 campaign with a win in the Open Timber race at the Cheshire Point-to-Point in Pennsylvania followed by another win at the Elkridge Harford Point-to-Point. He went on to win the Grand National for the third time on April 20.
When the flag dropped, Senior Senator assumed the lead, the position in which he appears most comfortable. As the field approached the third fence, a 4’9″ post and rail, all made it over safely except Prime Prospector who refused the fence. Not much changed in the order for the rest of the race. Battle Aray bobbled at the 11th fence losing his rider. At the 19th fence, Our Town, who had stalked Senior Senator for most of the race, fell but all horses and riders were reported to be fine.
Upon landing the 19th fence, Hadden Frost urged Drift Society to take the lead and led over the 20th and 21st. Senior Senator was still right behind him but after his flawless jumping display his biggest mistake was when he slipped and nearly fell on the road crossing. With only one fence left to jump, Eric Poretz asked Senior Senator to make up the ground he had lost and the two horses jumped the last together; Senior Senator took the lead again and won by four lengths over Drift Society. Joshua G, last years runner-up, finished third. Owner/trainer Jason Cole bred both Joshua G and Jeffery G who finished fourth; these two horses are half brothers out of Search for Reality. Hill Tie was fifth and Derwins Prospector – 2017 Maryland Hunt Cup winner – was sixth. This was Jeffery G and Hill Tie’s first Maryland Hunt Cup attempt.
The history that came with Senior Senator’s third win was the retirement of the Challenge Cup. When an owner wins the Maryland Hunt Cup three times, they retire the trophy. The three wins do not have to come from the same horse but this is still difficult to achieve. The Maryland Hunt Cup was first run in 1894 with this year marking the 125th Anniversary. Since the start of the race and prior to this year, the Challenge Cup has been retired only six times. The last time it was retired was in 1983 when Mrs. Miles Valentine’s Cantonage won in 1980, 1981, and 1983. Irvin L. Crawford II is now the seventh owner to achieve this feat with his horse Senior Senator. Next year, even though multiple owners have had two Maryland Hunt Cup winners, everyone will start back at zero.
For full results please click here.
To see all of Robert Keller’s photos from the day click here.
For a replay of the race click here.