Maryland’s timber racing scene for most of the 1960s was dominated by two Maryland-breds – National Museum of Racing Hall of Famer Jay Trump and Mountain Dew.
Without Jay Trump, Mountain Dew would likely have been a six-time Maryland Hunt Cup winner. His was a career unequaled in longevity and excellence in Maryland’s “big-three” timber tests – the Maryland Hunt Cup, Maryland Grand National and My Lady’s Manor – which he contested for eight seasons.
Bred, owned and trained by Janon Fisher Jr., Mountain Dew was ridden his entire timber career by Janon Fisher III. One of a select group of horses to have won the Hunt Cup three times (1962, 1965 and 1967), he was second to Jay Trump in the 1963, 1964 and 1966 editions. In his Hunt Cup debut in 1961 he finished third. When attempting an unprecedented fourth Hunt Cup victory in 1968 at the age of 13, he was injured at the 19th of 22 fences while leading (and continued on to jump the 20th fence while being pulled up).
Fisher owned Mountain Dew’s sire, *Hunters Moon IV, and stood him at his The Caves farm in Eccleston, in Baltimore County. Fisher also bred his dam, the War Admiral mare Laelia, and granddam Vanda Cerulea (by Blue Larkspur out of a Man o’ War mare).
As a yearling in 1956, Mountain Dew was judged grand champion of the Maryland State Fair Thoroughbred show at Timonium, and as a 3-year-old he made one start on the flat. He struck himself in the race and sustained tendon damage. Said Fisher about that injury: “After he got out of the cast, I just forgot about him and let nature take its course. When he had plenty of rest and was completely sound, my daughter Julie [Mrs. Daniel W. Colhoun Jr.] schooled Mountain Dew and was the first to hunt him.”
A marvelous foxhunter, Mountain Dew was deemed fit and ready to launch his timber racing career at age 6. Making three sanctioned starts a year, 24 in all, Julie Colhoun calculated he covered approximately 114 miles and jumped 640 fences, and never fell.
Mountain Dew holds the record of winning six Maryland Grand Nationals in eight starts and placing in the other two. He never left Maryland to race or hunt and, when asked why he only ran at three recognized meets, Janon Fisher III said, “Why leave? Enough’s here.”
Julie Colhoun noted after his final start, “Another extraordinary thing about Mountain Dew is that he has been foxhunted for nine seasons and has never fallen or made enough of a mistake to lose any of us. To add up the total fences jumped a season in the hunting field, and then multiply by nine, would make a fantastic sum and, perhaps, one for all timber enthusiasts to shoot for.”
After a year’s rest following his Hunt Cup injury, Mountain Dew returned to the hunt field with Fisher’s daughter Kitty Jenkins, joint Master of the Green Spring Valley Hounds, until he was retired for good at age 18.
Mountain Dew died in 1979 at the age of 24. “His time had come,” Jenkins told The Maryland Horse. “He wanted to be alone. He hid beneath some multiflora in a stream bed. A grave was dug on the top of a hill on my farm, a mile from the Hunt Cup course to the south, and it overlooks the Grand National course to the north. A rail from a Hunt Cup fence was placed beside him in the grave.”