By Katherine O. Rizzo

As the 2019 Maryland Steeplechase Association Governor’s Cup series came to a close last in May at the Fair Hill Races, series champions were announced with a mix of returning and new names topping the various titles.

The big winner again this year was Irvin Crawford II’s Senior Senator, who topped the Maryland Open Timber Championship list with 22 points. Trained by Joe Davies, Senior Senator went three for three again this year with Eric Poretz in the irons. They won at Elkridge, Grand National and the Maryland Hunt Cup. Having won the Hunt Cup for the third time, Crawford retired the Challenge Cup to cap off his horse’s winning season. Senior Senator also won the Maryland-Million Sired $500 bonus this year.

Jockey Eric Poretz swept the jockey standings again this year racking up 50 points for Timber Champion and 56 points for Amateur Champion and Overall Champion. Poretz had 19 starts this season with the big win being his third Maryland Hunt Cup victory. In addition to his three wins with Senior Senator, some of his other wins include Foxhall Fast Time with Rollforward, the Novice Timber at Elkridge with Some Response and Amateur Apprentice Timber on Vintage Vinnie, also at Elkridge. Poretz won again at Potomac, this time riding Great Road in the Maiden Hurdle.

Megan Connolly interviewing 2019 Gov Cup Leading Trainer Jack Fisher at this year’s Fair Hill Races © Maggie Kimmitt

The Maryland Novice Timber Champion this year was Schoodic, owned by Mrs. John Fisher and trained by Jack Fisher. Schoodic had a shaky start to the season, losing rider Brett Owings at Green Spring but then won at The Manor with Hadden Frost in the irons. Here in Maryland, Schoodic won again at the Fair Hill Races with Michael Mitchell on board.

Jack Fisher had a banner season winning the Overall Leading Trainer title with 76 points. He had 42 starts in Maryland this season as a trainer and won seven of those. Wins with Political Theatre (owned by Hyggelig Haven LLC) included the Novice Timber at Green Spring and Amateur Maiden Timber at The Manor. In addition to Schoodic’s great season, Fisher trained Drift Society to a second place finish at the Maryland Hunt Cup. Fisher also earned wins with Overwhelming, Our Legend and Amnicalola this season.

With Brett Owings in the saddle, Overwhelming (owned by Woodslane Farm) tied with Prime Prospector and Flaming Sword for the Amateur Apprentice Timber Horse and Rider Championship. Overwhelming and Owings won at Fair Hill in May. Prime Prospector, owned by Peter A. and Sarah Jay and trained by Todd Wyatt, won at the Manor with Paul O’Neill while Fat Chance Farm’s Flaming Sword and Aaron Sinnott won at the Grand National for trainer Leslie Young.

There was a three-way tie for the Maryland Heavyweight Timber Champion title  this year. Raven’s Choice, Boogie Biz and Dr. K’eogh all earned six points this season to share the title. Ann Jackson’s Raven’s Choice won the Heavyweight Timber at Elkridge as well as placing third at the Grand National, both times with Paul O’Neill riding. Boogie Biz, owned by Happenstance and Michael Beecher and trained by Mark Beecher, won the Heavyweight at Green Spring and went on to win the Open Timber at Potomac. Mark rode the gelding in both races. Boogie Biz was also this year’s Maryland-Bred $500 bonus winner. Dr. K’eogh’s Heavyweight win was at the Fair Hill Point to Point in April with John Brophy on board. Dr. K’eogh is owned and trained by William Meister.

Paul O’Neill scored big on the flat this season earning the Voss Amateur Flat Race series title. He rode in 21 races total this season with six of them being flat races. At Elkridge, O’Neill won with Cotton Town in the Open Flat and Flash Jackson in the Amateur Flat. At the Fair Hill Point to Point, he finished second with Include That in the Maiden Training Flat and Lonely Weekend in the Amateur Open Flat.

Bethany Baumgardner topped the Betsy Firey Memorial Leading Lady Rider title with 11.5 points this season. Her best finishes in Maryland were a second with The Duck in the Amateur Highweight Timber at the Grand National and a second with Master Gunner in the Allowance Flat at the Fair Hill Races.

Morning Star Farm’s Shoreline winning at this year’s Fair Hill Races © Maggie Kimmitt

Morning Star Farm topped the Overall Leading Owner standings. They earned 28.5 points with eight starts in Maryland this season. Wins came with Shoreline in the Maiden Training Flat at the Fair Hill Point to Point and the Maiden Claiming Hurdle at the Fair Hill Races. Indigo Heart earned Morning Star a win in the Amateur Apprentice Hurdle at the Fair Hill Point to Point. Good And Proper scored a win in the Allowance Flat at the Fair Hill Races. Carrickboy was the farm’s timber horse for the Maryland circuit. He finished second in the Open Timber at Green Spring and third in the Amateur Apprentice Timber at the Manor.

Austin Belt was the Overall Leading Pony Rider this year and earned the Large Pony Rider championship. He ran three ponies this season: Domino Effect (medium), Class Day (large) and Tony the Pony (small). With 15 starts in Maryland, Belt won five and came in second seven times. He earned 46.5 points overall and 27 in the Medium Pony division.

Sophie O’Brien had four starts this season and won three of them to earn the Leading Junior Small Pony Rider title. Riding Baby Blue, she won at Green Spring, the Maryland Junior Hunt Cup and the Howard County Cup. The pair finished second at the Grand National.

Teddy Davies won 10 out of 16 races this season, topping the Leading Junior Medium Pony Rider standings. His mount this season in the Medium Pony division was Count Chocula. Together they won at the Grand National, Fair Hill Point to Point, Maryland Junior Hunt Cup, Howard County Cup and Potomac races.

Parker Hendriks earned the Leading Junior Horse Rider title with four wins this season aboard Lawn Ranger. His wins included Elkridge, Grand National, Fair Hill Point to Point and Maryland Junior Hunt Cup. In addition, Hendriks was on the winning Foxhall Average Time team riding former Maryland Hunt Cup winner Guts for Garters. Hendriks paired up with Guts for Garters again at Fair Hill to win the Foxhunter Timber.

More awards, such as the Hurdy Gurdy, Kiser Memorial Scholar and Junior Foxhunting Scholarships will be announced at the Governor’s Cup awards ceremony on June 20.