Horse Racing

Digest (April 20): Senior Senator repeats as Grand National steeplechase winner

Irvin “Skip” Crawford’s Senior Senator retained the Grand National Challenge Cup on Saturday with a dominant victory in the 117th running of the historic middle jewel of the Maryland Timber Triple Crown.

Ridden by 23-year-old amateur Eric Poretz, his regular jockey throughout his timber-racing career, Senior Senator claimed the Challenge Cup for Crawford with his third straight victory in the 3 ¼-mile race in Butler. The victory set him up for an assault on a third victory in the Maryland Hunt Cup next Saturday in Glyndon.


The 9-year-old lost his last serious challenger at the last fence of the $50,000 Grand National when Black and Blue Stable’s Monstaleur stumbled on landing and trainer-jockey Forrest Kelly was unable to remain in the saddle. Armata Stables’ Joshua G., second in last year’s Hunt Cup, finished second, 30 lengths behind Senior Senator, in a field of 12.

Trained in nearby Monkton by Joe Davies, Senior Senator ran the Grand National’s 3¼ miles in 6:11 2/5 on turf rated as good.


Raven’s Choice, the 2015 Hunt Cup winner by disqualification and second to Senior Senator in last year’s Grand National, finished third, three-quarters of a length behind Joshua G. Drift Society was fourth.

Raven’s Choice set the pace for the Grand National’s first 2½ miles under Paul O’Neill before Drift Society, third in last year’s Hunt Cup, moved forward to challenge three fences out.

Senior Senator, always in striking position and ridden confidently by Poretz, took the lead two out and galloped home to an easy victory.

Ardrahan, who was challenging for the lead at the second-to-last fence, fell over that obstacle and was euthanized after sustaining a fatal injury.

Senior Senator won the Maryland Hunt Cup in 2016 after being disqualified from a Grand National allowance-race victory, and he sustained a broken neck in the 2017 Hunt Cup when he fell at the tall third fence on the Glyndon course. After surgery, he returned to win last year’s Hunt Cup by five lengths.

Laurel Park: Robert Manfuso, Wayne Harrison and trainer Katherine Voss’ Las Setas won a free entry into the $300,000 Black Eyed Susan (G2) with her victory in Saturday’s $125,000 Weber City Miss at Laurel Park, but the daughter of Seville had to earn it. The Weber City Miss, an about 1 1/16-mile stakes for 3-year-old fillies, was a win-and-in event that offered the winner a free-entry into the Blacked-Eyed Susan at Pimlico on May 17.

Impressive as he had been in putting together a five-race win streak, four of them in stakes, Runnymede Racing’s Alwaysmining took it to another level with an11 ½-length romp in Saturday’s $125,000 Xpressbet Federico Tesio at Laurel Park, punching his ticket to the 144th Preakness Stakes (G1). The 38th running of the Tesio for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles highlighted an 11-race Spring Stakes Spectacular program of seven stakes worth $750,000 in purses. For the fourth straight year, the Tesio served as a ‘Win and In’ event for Triple Crown-nominated horses to the Preakness, the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown, May 18 at Pimlico Race Course.

Golf: Mount Pleasant Golf Course and Manor Country Club produced almost identical scores in advancing to the championship round of the annual team matches of the Maryland State Golf Association. Mount Pleasant, in the final for the first time, defeated Crofton CC, 14 1/2-31/2, and Manor, a 4-time champion whose last title was in 1971, stopped Columbia CC, 14-4. The two winners will play for the state crown next Saturday.


ASA fundraiser: Athletes Serving Athletes will host its annual bull roast and silent auction on April 27 at 6 p.m. at Goucher College’s Decker Sports and Athletic Center. Funds raised at the event benefit individuals with limited to no mobility to help them cross the finish line in mainstream running events with the help of a team of able-bodied volunteer runners, their WingMen. The event features a silent auction, hors d’oeuvres, full dinner, and an open bar featuring beer and wine. Online pre-bidding for silent auction items will open on April 17th. To buy tickets or donate an item to the Silent Auction, go to

-- From Sun staff and news services