Irvin L. Crawford II retired the Challenge Cup at the Maryland Hunt Cup this past Saturday with his third win as owner of Senior Senator.

On Saturday, April 27, nine horses left the paddock at the 125th anniversary of the Maryland Hunt Cup and headed to the starting line. And while nine horses lined up at the start, all eyes fell on one. Irvin L. Crawford II’s Senior Senator.

Having won the Maryland Hunt Cup with Senior Senator in 2016 and 2018, Crawford’s horse was in line to win him the Challenge Cup. The Challenge Cup is awarded to an owner that wins the Hunt Cup three times, not necessarily with the same horse, and the last time it was awarded was in 1983 when Cancottage retired the cup for owner Mrs. Miles Valentine.

As the horses jumped the first few fences, Senior Senator took his typical place out in front, setting the pace for the rest of the field. Prime Prospector quit at the third fence, the famed “Union Memorial” and jockey Paul O’Neil elected to retire him from the race leaving eight left running.

Eric Poretz, Senior Senator’s jockey, continued to keep the nine-year-old gelding by Domestic Dispute out in front of the pack while McLane Hendriks and Our Town quietly stalked the leaders running in second.

Battle Aray lost his rider John Brophy landing the 11th fence leaving seven left running. Henriks continued to sit quietly in second on Our Town with Hadden Frost running third aboard Drift Society. At the 15th, Senior Senator hit the top rail but kept his footing while Our Town closed the gap.

The order stayed the same until the 19th fence when Our Town fell and Drift Society shot out in front of Senior Senator. Frost kicked Drift Society into high gear and lead the remaining six horses over the next fence with Senior Senator nearly falling at the road crossing.

Coming into the final jump, it was Senior Senator and Drift Society jumping head to head but once they landed, Poretz showed the crowd what a Senior Senator was all about as he moved the horse back to the front and won their third Hunt Cup by four lengths. Drift Society finished second with Joshua G in third, Jeffery G in fourth, Hill Tie in fifth and Derwins Prospector in sixth.

The historic win marked the retiring of the Challenge Cup for the Crawford and also the fourth straight win for trainer Joe Davies. Davies also continues to lead the trainer standings in the MSA Governor’s Cup series. Senior Senator moves into the top slot in the Open Timber Champion standings with Portez also taking a commanding lead over all three jockey standings.

With the retiring of the Challenge Cup, the scores are now wiped clean and owners all start back with zero wins starting in 2020. Crawford becomes the seventh owner in the 123rd runnings of the Maryland Hunt Cup to retire the famed trophy. Crawford is currently tied with Armata Stables for overall leading owner.

46 Junior Jockeys Flock to Maryland Junior Hunt Cup
On Sunday, April 28, 46 junior jockeys headed to Shawan Downs in Cockeysville to run in the annual Maryland Junior Hunt Cup.

Lead Line jockeys started the day two Mint Meadows Farm LLC ponies winning both divisions for trainer Suzanne Stettinius. Savannah Hutchins won the first division with Farnley Druid while Daniel Edelstein won the second division riding Dash of Mint.

Olney Smarty Pants and Sophie Perri, trained by Kate Perri, won the first division of the Shetland Pony race. Sadie Edwards won the second division aboard Knight’s Taffy, owned by Taylor Brinsfield and trained by Kelli Ann Wells.

In the flat races, it was William Slater who won the Small division riding Hoof Hearted for owner/trainer Mimi Schmitz. Patrick Gallagher won the Medium division riding Roger That, owned by Gerry Brewster and also trained by Mimi Schmitz. Teddy Davies raced to the front to win the Large division with EHM Stables’ Charmed, trained by Betty McCue.

The Maryland International Young Rider Hunt Cup (young rider timber) was the sixth race of the day. There were three in the field with Colin Smith winning aboard owner/trainer Mimi Schmitz’s Balls to the Walls.

Parker Hendriks continued his winning streak this season by topping the Maryland Junior Hunt Cup aboard Lawn Ranger, trained and owned by Sanna Neilson.

William Slater popped off Chewy in the Maryland Pony Hunt Cup to leave Sophie O’Brien to earn the win aboard Baby Blue, trained by Tracy O’Brien, in the Small division. Teddy Davies won the Medium division with Count Chocula, owned by Elizabeth McCue and trained by Ashton Williams. Class Day and Austin Belt took home the win in the Large division for owner Mint Meadows Farm LLC and trainer Suzanne Stettinius.

The final race of the day was the Flat Trial, won by Skylar McKenna and Soluble, owned and trained by Katherine Neilson.

After the Junior Hunt Cup, Austin Belt continues to lead both the Overall Leading Pony and Leading Junior Large Pony Rider standings. William Slater leads the Junior Small Pony Rider division by a half a point over Sophie O’Brien. Teddy Davies has a commanding lead in the Junior Medium Pony Rider standings as does Parker Hendriks in the Leading Junior Horse Rider standings.

Next up on the spring steeplechase calendar here in Maryland is the Howard County Cup on Saturday. Hope to see you there!