Gillet wins Grand National, now eyes steeplechase triple Welter Weight bears him to victory in Butler race

April 21, 1996|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

Joe Gillet is hot.

After 17 years of riding, he never had scored a victory in Maryland's Triple Crown of steeplechasing -- until this year. Now he has two in a row.

The popular jockey bided his time by tracking Maryland Hunt Cup champion Buck Jakes yesterday, then moved boldly to the front with Welter Weight and held off fast-closing Florida Law to capture the 94th running of the Grand National at Butler.

"Seventeen years I've been breaking collarbones and not winning and here I am," said Gillet, who commutes from California to compete in local jumping events.

"I'm staying this week [for Saturday's Hunt Cup]. On second thought, maybe I'd better go back. I don't want to break this streak."

Gillet started his run the previous weekend aboard Southwoods in the My Lady's Manor. He was named aboard Southwoods again yesterday, but the horse was scratched with a bowed tendon.

Despite what he described as "a spectacular final two jumps that drove a stake into the opposition's heart," Gillet and Welter Weight had all they could handle to stave off the roan gelding Florida Law, beaten only a length.

Buck Jakes, the biggest money winner in the field, finished third and, according to trainer Charles Fenwick Jr., "was a little flat. He wasn't his usual self." Defending champion Tarsky loped in fourth.

First

$25,000, Grand National Steeplechase, about 3 miles over 18 fences.

1. Welter Weight (J. Gillet); 2. Florida Law (J. Bosley); 3. Buck Jakes (A. Moran)

Time: 6:17 2/5. Winning owner: Armata Stables. Winning trainer: Tom Voss.

Second

$10,000, Benjamin H. Murray Memorial Steeplechase, about 3 miles over 17 fences.

1. Emerald Action (I. Naylor); 2. Patrick's Butler (J. Bosley); 3. Jingoistic (C. Lyons)

Time: 6:09. Winning owner: Irv Naylor. Winning trainer: Jack Fisher.

Third

$1,000, John K. Shaw Memorial Trophy, about 2 miles on the flat.

1. Sea Spruce (A.Moran); 2. Lifespecial Touch (J. Fisher); 3. Dancingontestimony (B. Patterson).

Time: 3:31 4/5. Winning owner: William C. Lickle. Winning trainer: Ricky Hendriks.

Pub Date: 4/21/96

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