Kentucky Derby winner Justify is set to take a shot at the Preakness in his bid for horse racing’s Triple Crown.
It’s six days before the 117th running of the Maryland Hunt Cup on April 27 and to the casual observer, it looks as though three jockeys are in full race mode. Former Hunt Cup riders Stewart Strawbridge, Charlie Fenwick, and Jason Griswold hover over a laptop, scrutinizing the results of the past three weeks of the Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia steeplechase circuit to assess a field of sixteen competitors for this year’s Hunt Cup, the final jewel in the state’s triple crown of steeplechase racing.
For most amateur jockeys, riding in the grueling, four-mile race over twenty-two fences, some five feet high, means fulfilling a lifelong dream.
That was certainly the case for Strawbridge, Fenwick and Griswold when they raced. While all three hung up their tack two years ago, they remain as passionate about the race and as interested in its outcome as ever. Collectively, the three have ridden the race thirteen times: Strawbridge won the Hunt Cup in 2007; Fenwick rode the race seven times, finishing only twice, once with a win in 2008; and Griswold has ridden the race five times.
Most Hunt Cup jockeys are plagued by the superstition that any public recognition can jinx the race. To spare the sixteen jockeys in this year’s race, we reached out to the three former competitors to reflect on what it’s like for jockeys in the days leading up to the Hunt Cup as they prepare for the race of a lifetime.
Are we allowed to get excited about an event just based on the genius of its name? Sure, puns aren’t everybody’s bag, but come on! This one is really irresistible. If you’re not up to speed on your wine/horse lingo, to “decant” a wine means to aerate it by pouring it into a glass vessel; and a “canter” is a horse’s run. Put them both together and you’ve got a perfectly apt name for what should be a fabulous event brought to us by the Maryland Wineries Association.
Combining two of Maryland’s beloved traditions (horse racing and wine), the third annual Decanter event comes on the heels of this year’s Drink Local Wine conference. The national conference is being held (this weekend, in fact) in Baltimore, and will feature Maryland’s finest wineries, discussions, talks, and of course gourmet local food to pair with all of the fabulous wine. That all happens this Saturday, the 13th. But the following weekend (for those who just can’t get enough—and we’re assuming that’s most of us) Decanter offers the opportunity to taste the finest wines from 28 Maryland wineries. You can meet the people who make the wine, ask them anything, and then purchase a bottle for the day, or a case to bring home.
When I was very young I would lie and say I wanted to be either an astronaut, or a firefighter, or a sort of firefighting astronaut, putting out blazes in zero-gravity. I had no idea what I what I really wanted to do for a living — certainly not something as pulse-raising as those professions — but people expected an answer.
Apparently, that is not an issue Zac Fowler, 7, has ever had to deal with. He knew what he wanted to be at three years old — a race car driver. But what’s really remarkable is that Zac got a jump on living his dream the next year, when his parents bought him a go-kart and let him begin to “get a feel” for the gas and brake pedals. At five he began competing at Sandy Hook Speedway. And now, the Ellicott City resident is vying for a national go-kart title.
Zac, who recently traded in his first go-kart, which was “like driving a Weed Eater” for a new one that’s “more like a lawn mower,” has already won 13 trophies. My only wonder is, if he becomes the national go-kart champion, will he just pack it all in? I mean, will there be anything left to prove?
Unlikely. His parents are already looking into moving to Mooresville, North Carolina, a major NASCAR hub.