At Hunt Cup, `Bubble' out, Bug River's chances fading

New developments make race wide-open


April 28, 2007|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN REPORTER

The state's major spring steeplechase season concludes today with the 111th running of the prestigious Maryland Hunt Cup in Glyndon.

And entering the $75,000 race, the story is as much about a jumper who isn't competing and one who hasn't competed well this spring, as it is about those who might contend at the four-mile, 22-obstacle course.

Bubble Economy, last weekend's Grand National winner, will not run, so a newly offered $30,000 bonus to the winner of both races will go unclaimed.

"I'm not allowed to run him and have bowed to my owners," trainer Jack Fisher said. "They [Arcadia Stable] thought it would be too much for him, although that's how they used to run in the old days."

Bubble Economy, an 8-year-old gelding, would have been starting on a third consecutive Saturday after finishing a game second to Fappa Fire at My Lady's Manor and then rallying over the final two jumps to beat Make Your Own at the Grand National.

"He can run next weekend in the Virginia Gold Cup, and that's a $100,000 race," Fisher said. "That's probably better thinking."

Owner Andre Brewster is also passing up a chance to win permanent possession of the Challenge Bowl, which goes to an owner who can win three times. Buck Jakes, an Arcadia horse, won the race twice.

Then, there is the case of Bug River, now 14 and the Hunt Cup champion last year and in 2004. He was also the runner-up two years ago.

He could become only the ninth three-time winner of one of the toughest timber events in the world and the first since Cancottage 24 years ago. The exclusive company includes past timber giants such as Jay Trump and Mountain Dew.

But Bug River was pulled up at the Grand National a week ago, and trainer Regina Welsh is not confident about his chances.

"He didn't run so great at the Grand National, and I'm not too excited about it," Welsh said. "Our goal is to just go and get around safely. Sometimes, he gets nervous and can't breathe. He's so competitive. He just hasn't run this spring for whatever reason, although he's healthy and fine. He's just a quirky horse."

Blair Wyatt (formerly Waterman) will ride and be in charge to determine just how well Bug River is responding.

Those two developments leave the race looking wide-open, with Make Your Own, Rosbrian and Coal Dust looking like possible winners.

Trainer Tom Voss has always liked the potential of Coal Dust, who gets Woods Winants in the saddle. Savvy veteran Billy Meister, who doesn't have one of his own horses entered, will guide Rosbrian for trainer Casey Randall, and that could be a factor for a gelding that is always competitive but has never jumped to the top.

The weather is expected to be ideal for the race, which has 22 fences that are all 4 feet or higher (except one). The tallest is 4 feet, 10 inches.

If you go

What -- Maryland Hunt Cup

When -- Today, post time, 4 p.m.

Where -- Tufton Avenue, Glyndon

Directions -- To reach general parking from Baltimore, take Falls Road north off the Beltway and drive about four miles to intersection of Tufton Avenue and Falls. Take a left onto Tufton to parking. For patrons and subscribers, approach Tufton from the west (Worthington Avenue) and turn right onto Tufton.

Note -- No tickets are sold on race day.


Maryland Hunt Cup


$75,000, timber, stakes, 4 miles

Horse Wt Horse Wt

Rosbrian 165 Blackchesters 165

Make Your Own 165 Bug River 165

Coal Dust 165 a-Ivorgorian 165

The Bruce 165 Lear Charm. 165

a-A Fine Story 165 Zaratanie 165

a-Louis Neilson III-trained entry.

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