Santoro, 'Attack' Try Again

Saturday's Grand National Just A Hop Away From Last Year's Missed Hunt Cup

Steeplechase

April 17, 2009|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Special to The Baltimore Sun

A year ago, Billy Santoro was the toast of the Maryland steeplechasing community.

At age 58, he had guided Private Attack to a resounding victory in the 106th Grand National Steeplechase at Butler, and all signs pointed toward the Sportsmans Hall-owned horse giving it a go in the prestigious Maryland Hunt Cup the following weekend.

It didn't work out that way when Private Attack experienced a "tie-up" episode (the result of a metabolic problem) before the biggest timber event in the state. Plans for the Hunt Cup had to be abandoned.

But Saturday, the pair will be back for an encore at the Grand National, "and this will let us know where we stand," Santoro said. "The idea is still to get to the Hunt Cup. He's a brilliant jumper. The question is where his body is."

Now only a year removed from being the subject of a National Steeplechase Association ruling that forbids riding after reaching age 60, Santoro is short on time in his quest to lift the Hunt Cup.

"As the rule stands, I'm running up against it," he said. "Some people have suggested that it's a Jan. 1 rule and my birthday is in February, so it's up in the air. I know I'm still having a great time riding."

The Grand National competition for them will be fierce. Back to challenge are runner-up Askim, who went on to win the Hunt Cup without Private Attack to contend with, and the well-regarded Coal Dust, who tuned up with a victory in the Elkridge-Harford point-to-point race.

Askim will have the team that captured the big race last weekend at My Lady's Manor, with Charles Fenwick III aboard and Ann D. Stewart training for owner Irv Naylor. Coal Dust is trained by Tom Voss, four-time NSA training champion.

IF YOU GO

What:: 107th Grand National Steeplechase

When:: Saturday, first of three races, the Grand National, at 3:15 p.m.

Where:: Butler Road, Butler

Directions from Baltimore:: Take Falls Road north off the Beltway and proceed about 10 miles to Butler Road. Turn left.

Tickets:: General parking at $20 available Friday at Butler Store, Valley Motors, Dover Saddlery in Sparks, Dogwood Tack in Jacksonville and the Filling Station at Falls and Shawan roads. For subscriber or patron parking, contact Valley Motors. $20 general parking available on race day.

Beneficiary:: Greater Baltimore Medical Center

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