Moran's back with `Buck' in Grand National

Returning from back injury, rider seeks 3rd straight title

April 17, 1999|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

This time it is the rider, not the horse, who has come back from adversity.

Before the Grand National Steeplechase last spring, the defending champion, Buck Jakes, was returning from an untidy stint in England where he apparently wasn't happy. There was a question about how well he would run at Butler.

The answer was authoritative when Buck Jakes won over what ranks as his home course for the second straight year.

Now, the other half of the team, Anne Moran, has returned to the saddle after suffering three nondisplaced fractures in her lower back during a training accident last autumn.

"I was off my feet for eight weeks," said Moran, who has ridden Buck Jakes four times in the Grand National. "I was on a yearling on our farm and he was behaving badly. He fell over backward; he's a bad actor."

Moran came back to working horses in January. She was aboard three weeks ago when Buck Jakes -- the sturdy gray who is now 11 -- won a point-to-point race in Virginia.

"We had a good run. It was pretty fast because the fences down there aren't very high. The farther north you come, the higher they get. He did it very nicely," Moran said.

Trained by Charles Fenwick Jr., Buck Jakes will be favored again today in the 3-mile test over 18 timber fences. The card also contains the Benjamin H. Murray Memorial Race (3 miles over 17 fences) and a 2 1/4-mile flat race.

Post time for the Grand National is 3: 15 p.m., with the other two races to follow.

The Grand National provides the final tuneup for those aspiring to win the state's most prestigious steeplechase, the Maryland Hunt Cup at Glyndon next Saturday.

As usual, Buck Jakes will be challenged by the other members of the state's "Big Three," the Tom Voss-trained entry of Florida Law and Welter Weight. The former is the defending Hunt Cup champion; the latter a reliable jumper who never seems to give a bad effort.

If there is a sleeper in the eight-horse field, it is probably Fayette Park, an improving gelding trained by Jack Fisher, who is also scheduled for the ride.

Pub Date: 4/17/99

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