Joe Davies saddled the winner of the Maryland Hunt Cup on April 29 for the second year in a row, but it wasn’t the horse trained by Davies that everyone had expected to win.
Last year’s winner, Senior Senator, was the favorite in the race, but he fell at the third fence where Davies said he got in traffic and never saw the fence until too late.
The winner, Gerry L. Brewster’s Derwins Prospector, had never won a steeplechase race until he out-finished Bruton Street-US’ Drift Society (Ire), trained by Jack Fisher, in the Hunt Cup.
Of the 10 starters, only those two finished in a race that was not only remarkable for the number of horses not finishing but also for the actions of two brothers, one a trainer and one a rider (not on his brother’s horse) who were immediately suspended by the Hunt Cup Stewards for their treatment of horses before and during the race.
Todd McKenna was seen kicking Serene Harbor in the belly while leading him to the paddock, and Trevor McKenna was seen punching his mount, Great Halo, in the head and neck after Great Halo refused at the third fence.
There was much discussion about those actions in the week following the Hunt Cup and at Winterthur races on May 7, with many people bemoaning the negative effects on steeplechasing when seen and reported by such a large crowd.
Serene Harbor was apparently colicing, and, while no one wants a colicing horse to lie down, the big question being asked is why any respectable trainer or horseman would take a colicing horse to the paddock of any race, much less the most difficult timber race in the world.
The Horse was told by reputable sources that Serene Harbor did lie down in the paddock, and, while the attending veterinary immediately scratched the horse, the officials allowed the horse to be mounted and ridden to the start to get him out of the paddock and out of the view of the huge crowd in attendance.
Both brothers actions have been referred by the Maryland Hunt Cup Stewards to the NSA Stewards Advisory Committee for further review and a hearing, scheduled for the week of May 8, to determine the ultimate penalty.
The Stewards Rulings posted on the National Steeplechase site are listed at the bottom of this story.
BOTH DERWINS Prospector and Drift Society were ridden by foreign jockeys just here for a short time.
Drift Society was ridden by Englishman Hadden Frost, brought over by Bruton Street-US’ co-owner Mike Hankin.
Frost was here for a month and rode a winner at My Lady’s Manor in his first few days here.
Derwins Prospector was ridden by Frenchman Gonzaque Cottreau, brought over by Davies specifically for this ride.
“We’ve had Derwins Prospector for four years,” said Davies of the 9-year-old who won one maiden claiming race at Laurel during his flat career but had run in a number of point-to-points and 10 sanctioned jump races since 2013 without a win.
“He’s always been a great jumper,” said Davies. “He jumps in and out of fields. He jumps four-bar gates to get into another field that looks better to him.”
“He’s not particularly fast, but we always felt his best chance at glory would be in the Maryland Hunt Cup,” said Davies. “He ran in the Hunt Cup last year, but he unseated his rider, Erica Taylor, at the first fence. We felt Erica wasn’t quite ready for that challenge (of riding in the Hunt Cup).”
“We wanted to get a more experienced rider for this year’s race,” said Davies. “I love promoting local amateurs, but we wanted a rider with more experience jumping big courses.”
“As a reward for winning last year’s Hunt Cup, we sent (jockey) Eric Poretz to Europe to ride in amateur races there. His one mission was to find someone to ride in the Hunt Cup. He found Cottreau, who he said was a great rider.”
WHILE ONLY two finished of 10 starters, only three actually fell while two stopped and three lost their riders.
Davies said one of the reasons for so few finishers was that a number of the Hunt Cup’s daunting fences had been rebuilt this year, and not one rail was broken this year.
“There were years when horses hit fences but the rails broke and horses were able to stand up,” said Davies. “This year no mistake was forgiven.”
Senior Senator and Merriefield Farm’s De Chera, trained by Bruce Fenwick and ridden by Betthany Baumgardner, fell at the third fence where Great Halo refused.
“The stewards kindly let us saddle Senior Senator just outside of the paddock,” said Davies.
Senior Senator has been known to lose his races by stressing out in the paddock.
But he was fighting for his head all the way from the start and, as Davies said, might easily not have seen the third fence until too late.
“Eric said the pace was much slower than he’d expected,” said Davies. “He got into bad traffic and never saw the fence. He’s been first or second in his last eight starts. He just ran out of luck.”
Irvin Naylor’s Super Saturday, trained by Kathy Neilson and ridden by Roger Quinlan, stopped at the fourth fence, unseating his rider.
Armata Stables’ Joshua G, trained by Neilson and ridden by Jennie Brannigan, and Frank Bonsal’s Terko Service, trained by Ann Stewart and ridden by Casey Pinkart, both fell at the sixth.
Richard Blue’s Our Town, trained by Davies and ridden by Max Kendrick, lost his rider at the 10th and Kinross Farm’s Old Timer, trained by Richard Valentine and ridden by McLane Hendriks, lost his rider at the 21st fence while in contention.
Derwins Prospector and Drift Society jumped the last together and Derwins Prospector pulled awy to win by ¾ of a length.
May 3, 2017
Licensee: Todd McKenna
After the Maryland Hunt Cup on April 29, 2017 the Stewards were notified that trainer Todd McKenna had been observed kicking his horse SERENE HARBOR in the belly while enroute to the paddock from the barn area. SERENE HARBOR subsequently exhibited unusual behavior while in the paddock by laying down. Course veterinarian Rachel Westerlund was notified and she continued to observe the horse during his warm up. Prior to the start of the race Dr. Westerlund recommended to the Stewards that the horse be scratched and he was.
On Sunday, April 30, 2017, Mr. McKenna was notified by the Stewards of the allegations regarding his actions and was asked for an explanation.
j Pursuant to NSA Rule 5.2.B.3 which states: “The Stewards have power to regulate and control the conduct of all officials, and of all owners, trainers, riders, grooms and other persons attendant on horses, as well as employees of the Association,” a telephonic hearing was held for Mr. McKenna, the three Stewards listed above and NSA representative William Gallo on May 2, 2017.
During the hearing, McKenna was informed that the Stewards had testimony from several witnesses that he did in fact kick his horse in the belly and that he had done so in full view of several spectators and photographers. McKenna stated that he was trying to keep his horse from lying down and could not remember whether or not he had kicked the horse.
There is zero tolerance for the physical abuse of horses at NSA regulated meets.
The Stewards, based on the testimony of numerous witnesses and Mr. McKenna, find trainer Todd McKenna in violation of NSA Rule 11.1.F which states: “While on Association grounds, no person shall subject any animal to any form of cruelty, mistreatment, neglect or abuse, or permit any animal under his control, custody or supervision to suffer any such cruelty, mistreatment, neglect or abuse,” , and NSA Rule 5.2.B.15 which states: “The Stewards shall take notice of any conduct which appears not to be in the best interests of racing, with or without complaint thereof”.
Because of his egregious conduct, owner/trainer Todd McKenna’s licenses are immediately suspended and this matter is hereby referred by the Stewards to the NSA Stewards Advisory Committee for further review and a hearing to determine the ultimate penalty.
May 3, 2017
Licensee: Trevor McKenna
After the Maryland Hunt Cup on April 29, 2017 the Stewards were notified by former jockey J.W. Delozier that jockey Trevor McKenna had been observed punching his horse GREAT HALO in the head and neck after being unseated when the horse refused at the 3rd fence in the race. Delozier was called to the Stewards stand and he informed the Stewards that he told McKenna to stop hitting the horse. He stated that McKenna then became combative towards him. An unknown spectator also approached Steward Gregg Morris later and told him that McKenna had punched the horse, that he had been attending the Hunt Cup for 42 years and had “never seen anything like it.”
The Stewards met with McKenna after the race and McKenna admitted that he had punched his horse. By way of explanation he stated that he had been preparing for this race for a year and that he was very frustrated and angry when his horse refused to jump the 3rd fence.
Pursuant to NSA Rule 5.2.B.3 which states: “The Stewards have power to regulate and control the conduct of all officials, and of all owners, trainers, riders, grooms and other persons attendant on horses, as well as employees of theAssociation”; There is zero tolerance for the physical abuse of horses at NSA regulated meets.
The Stewards, based on the testimony of numerous witnesses and Mr. McKenna, find jockey Trevor McKenna in violation of NSA Rule 11.1.F which states: “While on Association grounds, no person shall subject any animal to any form of cruelty, mistreatment, neglect or abuse, or permit any animal under his control, custody or supervision to suffer any such cruelty, mistreatment, neglect or abuse”, and NSA Rule 5.2.B.15 which states: “The Stewards shall take notice of any conduct which appears not to be in the best interests of racing, with or without complaint thereof”. Because of his egregious conduct, jockey Trevor McKenna’s license is immediately suspended and this matter is hereby referred by the Stewards to the NSA Stewards Advisory Committee for further review and a hearing to determine the ultimate penalty.