The Maryland timber season was full of surprises, and one of those most surprised was Billy Meister, trainer and rider of “quintessential underdog” Hello Hal, winner of the 100th running of the Maryland Hunt Cup. Five started in the race, including defending champ Buck Jakes and rising star Welter Weight, winner of the Grand National the week before, but coming up to the final fence only two remained. Florida Law and Johnny Bosley held a clear lead until the gray bobbled and lost his rider at the 22nd fence. From there it was clear sailing for Jay Griswold and Doug Croker’s Club Hal Stables colorbearer Hello Hal; Bosley remounted and finished second. For Meister, it was his third win in the timber classic, after which he noted: “These things happen; that’s the Hunt Cup.”
Buck Jakes returned to win the next year, Florida Law won in 1998 and Welter Weight took the trophy in 1999.
- Maryland-based trainer Dale Capuano, 33, got his 1,000th win that March with Verdictum at Laurel Park. His first winner, Who’s Lucky, won 15 years earlier at Bowie.
One of Maryland’s all-time leading trainers, Capuano has added another 2,537 wins (through April 29) in the 25 years since. His best year, by both money won ($4,397,048) and number of wins (235), was in 2001 when his runners made 948 starts.