Arcadia Stable's Buck Jakes, trainer Charlie Fenwick Jr.'s best hope for a Maryland Hunt Cup winner since Sugar Bee won in 1987, goes for his second straight victory today in the $20,000 Grand National Point-to-Point at Butler.
A good effort will vault the 7-year-old grandson of Alydar into the starting lineup for next Saturday's $30,000 Hunt Cup at Glyndon.
His opposition today includes Tarsky and Sortov, the Irvin Naylor-owned and Jack Fisher-trained pair of geldings that finished third and fourth, respectively, last weekend at My Lady's Manor, as well as Armata Stable's Welter Weight, who was second at the Manor.
The Naylor horses are cross-entered in the companion race, the Benjamin H. Murray Memorial. But Sheila Fisher, wife of the trainer, said yesterday that she expects both horses to run in the feature.
Last year, Buck Jakes gave Fenwick an unprecedented 10th win over the Grand National course as an amateur jockey. Soon after the race, Fenwick announced his retirement as a rider. The horse is now piloted by Anne Moran, who won the International Gold Cup at Great Meadow on Buck Jakes last fall, as well as finishing third in the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup.
Also scheduled to go against Buck Jakes today is Florida Law, last year's Maryland Hunt Cup runner-up, and the Billy Meister-trained pair of Hello Hal and Sarkis.
Southwoods, who had been the favorite in the Murray Memorial, will be scratched and will start next in the Virginia Gold Cup, said his rider, Sanna Neilson.
Neilson will now ride R. D. Hubbard's Mistico in the $50,000 Temple Gwathmey Steeplechase today at the Middleburg (Va.) Hunt Races. It will be the first time in two years that Neilson has ridden Mistico since she won the $100,000 Iroquois Amateur Hurdle with the horse in 1993.
Last year, the 9-year-old gelding was runner-up to Warm Spell as the sport's leading jumper.
Post time today for the first of the three Grand National races will be 3:15 p.m.
The course is on the Fenwick-Griswold properties on Butler Road, about eight miles from Hunt Valley.