Hello Hal captures 100th Md. Hunt Cup Voss denied again, as Florida Law throws rider after last jump

April 28, 1996|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

Call it horrible racing luck, being snake-bitten or the vagaries of the sport.

By whatever description, Florida Law and trainer Tom Voss cannot break their Maryland Hunt Cup curse.

A worse-case scenario than yesterday would be hard to find.

After dominating the grueling four-mile race over 22 timber fences, the roan gelding spilled rider John Bosley after the final jump, allowing Hello Hal and Billy Meister to win the 100th running of the steeplechase classic at Worthington Farms.

Officially, Hello Hal and Florida Law were the only finishers in the five-horse field after an outrider chased down the runner-up and returned him to an angry Bosley, who re-mounted the horse and cajoled him across the wire.

It was the third straight year that Florida Law has been second in the Hunt Cup, and this time was the most frustrating.

"It's a tough way to get beat . . . when you're going to canter on in," said Bosley. "He was finding another stride I didn't see before and popped me out of the saddle."

Hello Hal, also trained by Meister, had set most of the pace in last week's Grand National before fading to finish off the board.

Yesterday, he tracked Florida Law most of the way, several times taking a brief lead.

His stablemate, T.J.'s Dynasty, was the first to feel the wrath of the toughest timber race in the country, falling at the seventh.

After six more jumps, Joe Gillet pulled up one of Voss' two entries, Welter Weight, leaving only the two finishers and defending champion Buck Jakes.

But Buck Jakes went out at the 16th, a high fence entered from a downhill angle, leaving a two-horse race.

"I was about four lengths behind at the last fence. What happened was the only way I was going to catch him," Meister said of Florida Law's spilling Bosley. "I figured on just galloping in for second."

So, Voss, a perennial top 10 resident in the steeplechase training standings, again was denied the biggest prize in Maryland jump racing. As was Gillet, who had won the first two legs of the Triple Crown.

"Up to that last point, he had jumped perfectly," Voss said of Florida Law. "He sort of popped John out of the saddle.

"Maybe it was the crowd. They're on both sides watching the finish and it only takes an instant for a horse to get distracted."

Hello Hal is a smallish gelding -- "15.2 hands maximum," said Meister -- who never broke his maiden during an undistinguished career on the flat.

"I bought him for $800 and my wife showed him for two years. He was just a horse we let everybody ride. Then I sold him to Jay Griswold for $2,500."

The riding victory was the third for Meister, who won the Hunt Cup aboard Freeman's Hill in 1988 and on The Hard Word two years later. It was his first Hunt Cup triumph as a trainer.

The running time was 8: 55 1/5, almost 25 seconds off the record set by Buck Jakes last year.

Hello Hal received $25,000 for the victory, more than 10 times his earnings of last year.

Horse ........... Rider

1. Hello Hal .... B. Meister

2. Florida Law .. J. Bosley

Time: 8: 55 1/5. Notes: There was no third-place finisher. Buck Jakes and T.J.'s Dynasty fell. Welter Weight pulled up. Winning owner: Club Hal Stable. Winning trainer: Billy Meister.

Pub Date: 4/28/96

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