When Derwins Prospector crossed the finish line at last year’s 121st Maryland Hunt Cup ahead of Drift Society by a nose, owner Gerry Leiper Brewster celebrated his first Hunt Cup win. Although this was Gerry’s first personal victory in 16 attempts, the Brewster family has a long history of successes at the Maryland Hunt Cup, which began over a century before Derwins Prospectors win last year.
Gerry was born and raised on Worthington Farms, where the Hunt Cup has been run since 1922. Gerry’s parents Senator and Mrs. Daniel Brewster owned the farm in the 1950s and 1960s, and sold it to their nephew, J.W.Y. (Duck) Martin, Jr. who with wife, Glennie, are still its owners.
The first of Gerry’s ancestors to ride in the Hunt Cup was his maternal grandfather, J. Gerry Leiper, who in 1911 won aboard Pebbles. Two years later, the pair finished second. Gerry’s paternal grandfather, Daniel B. Brewster, finished third in 1913 aboard Mullinahone. The family did not see another Hunt Cup victory until 1919 when Chuckatuck, owned by B.H. Brewster, Jr., Gerry’s great grandfather, were the winners.. Cousin Bill Martin owned the 1936 winner, Inshore. The family hit a bit of a dry spell in the 1940s and early 1950s although they consistently had Hunt Cup runners, many finishing in the money but no wins. Until… Neds Flying, owned by Gerry’s aunt Polly Leiper Denckla, won back-to-back in 1957 and 1958. Gerry’s uncle Crompton (Tommy) Smith, Jr., rode Fluctuate to the 1959 win, and Simple Samson to win in 1961.
And then came Jay Trump, one of the Hunt Cup’s most famed horses. Bred in Maryland by Jay Sensenich, Jay Trump was owned by Mary C. Stephenson and trained by D. Michael Smithwick. Tommy rode him to three Maryland Hunt Cup victories: 1963, 1964 and 1966.
Duck Martin, Gerry’s cousin, owned and rode the 1972 victor Early Earner. Cousin Betty Weymouth won in 1974 with Burnmac and in 1995 and 1997, Arcadia Stables’, which was owned by uncle Andre Brewster, won with Buck Jakes.
Gerry himself rode in his first Hunt Cup in 1985 but Balantic fell at the 17th fence. The following year the pair finished second. After two more attempts at winning the Hunt Cup as a jockey, Gerry switched into the owner role with the 1990 second place finisher, JR Polynesian, ridden by Joe Gillet Davies.
Gerry owned four more Hunt Cup hopefuls: Brands Hatch, Catch the Echo, Spencer Road and Our Town, before Derwins Prospector, trained by Joe Davies and ridden by Gonzague Cottreau, brought home Gerry’s first win.
Derwins Prospector first hit the Maryland steeplechase scene in 2011 when he was owned and trained by Charles Frock and finished 10th in a Training Flat race at Shawan Downs that September. In 2012, he was sold to Lilli M. Kurtinecz whose best finish was second in the Maiden Timber at Blue Ridge Fall Races in September 2012. Shortly after that race, Gerry purchased Derwins Prospector on October 15.
His best finish in 2013 was a second in the Novice Timber at the Howard County Cup Races that May. In March of 2014, Adair Bonsal Stifel purchased half interest in Derwins Prospector. After taking a year off in 2015, Derwins Prospector prepped for his first Hunt Cup, with runs at Foxhall, Cheshire, Elkridge-Harford and the Grand National. Unfortunately, his Hunt Cup debut in 2016 was less than stellar as he lost jockey Erika Taylor early on and kept on racing until being caught a few fences into the course. With Gustav Dahl in the irons, Derwins Prospector finished second a month later in the Novice Timber at the Potomac Hunt Races.
Derwins Prospector had only three starts leading up to his 2017 Hunt Cup attempt, with a second at the Piedmont (VA) Point-to-Point, and fourth at Elkridge-Harford, both times with Ashton WIlliams on board. At the Grand National, trainer Joe Davies swapped riders and put Frenchman Gonzague Cottreau on to finished fifth.
“Epic” is the best word to describe the 121st running of the Maryland Hunt Cup. The temperature was higher than normal for the last Saturday in April, and 11 out of the 13 entered headed to the paddock. One was pulled leaving the paddock due to soundness concerns, leaving 10 to head to the start. Twenty-two fences later, only two horses remained, dueling to the wire with Derwins Prospector edging out Bruton Street-US’ Drift Society, ridden by Hadden Frost.
This epic race made Derwins Prospector the perfect choice for this March’s cover which is celebrating the start of the Maryland Spring Steeplechase season. A big congratulations to Derwins Prospector’s connections and good luck in 2018!