Welter Weight, the defending Maryland Hunt Cup champion, will be missing, but all of the other top timber horses in the area have assembled for today's My Lady's Manor steeplechase race in Monkton.
A strong field of 10 geldings is scheduled to go to post for the three-mile event over timber fences, the first race in Maryland's Triple Crown.
Included are the venerable Saluter, who always seems to have problems in the Manor, and former two-time Hunt Cup winner Buck Jakes, who -- like many other entrants -- is making his season debut.
Post time for the Manor, the first of two jumping contests on the card, is 2: 30 p.m.
Buck Jakes is now 12 and coming off a subpar year. He will be sporting a new rider, Charles Fenwick III, the former flat jockey replacing the retired Anne Moran, who guided Buck Jakes to two Grand National and two International Gold Cup wins.
"He doesn't seem to be able to avoid tough competition," said trainer Charles Fenwick, Jr.
"This is a wide-open field and, with his first time out, the main goal here is to get him to the Hunt Cup in one piece. He could finish up the track and still make us happy. This is not an easy spot."
Buck Jakes is training well, but there is a question of how he will adapt to his new jockey.
At least six others have legitimate shots to win the race, which carries a $17,500 purse.
Saluter is a four-time American timber champion and is No. 1 on the list of career victories in the sport.
Virginia-based Company Eight captured three races last year and finished second in the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup won by Floating Interest, another in this field.
Hopewell was the Manor winner two years ago, Proud Dawg prevailed last year and Ironfist took the Carolina Cup in Camden, S.C., April 1.
Welter Weight tuned up for next Saturday's Grand National by easily winning the featured Edward S. Voss Memorial over Maipo last weekend at the Elkridge-Harford point-to-point meeting. He completed the three miles in an excellent 5: 48.
He was one of two winners for trainer Tom Voss, who conditioned Secret Impressions to a victory in the B. Frank Christmas Memorial flat race. Irvin Naylor's Make Me A Champ took the other jump event, the George C. Clement Memorial.
To reach the Manor site, take Jarrettsville Pike north about 14 miles from the Baltimore Beltway to Pocock Road.
The event will benefit Ladew Topiary Gardens and is the best-attended sporting endeavor in Harford County.