Leading steeplechase owner Irvin S. Naylor had been having a slow spring until a cool, blustery afternoon on April 20. Within a few hours, his stable secured five victories, including Alfa Beat’s triumph in the $30,000 Grand National, the middle jewel of Maryland’s timber triple crown.
The York, Pa., sportsman and philanthropist also had four victories at the Middleburg Spring Races, including Decoy Daddy’s triumph in the $50,000 Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3). Prior to the four-bagger plus one, Naylor had one victory from 13 starts. The big afternoon moved him into the lead by purse earnings with more than $100,000.
Alfa Beat, trained by Billy Meister and ridden by James Slater, settled in midpack in the early going of the Grand National, made his move on the final turn, and drew clear to a five-length victory over Rosbrian Farm’s Garryowen Star and jockey Martin Rohan. Northwoods Stable’s Battle Op finished third under Connor Hankin. Twill Do, the two-time Maryland Hunt Cup winner, finished seventh.
A successful steeplechase horse in Ireland, Alfa Beat secured his first U.S. victory over timber in the prestigious Grand National, which had its 111th running. The nine-year-old Irish-bred gelding ran the Grand National’s 3 1/4 miles in 6:33.40.
Dugan takes Block House
Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard and jockey Darren Nagle have had a hot hand all spring, and they extended their domination when Bill Pape’s Dugan won the $20,000 Block House optional allowance hurdle at the Block House Races in Tryon, N.C. Dugan prevailed by three-quarters of a length over Marilyn S. Ketts’ mare Flying Friskie. Owner-trainer Karen Gray’s Cuse finished third. Dugan completed the Block House’s 2 1/2 miles in 5:04.80 on turf rated as good.
Trainer Lilith Boucher and jockey Richard Boucher had a big afternoon at Block House. The wife-husband combination combined for the second with Flying Friskie in the Block House and victories by Frances Hill Myers’ Rudyard K in the $15,000 Wells Fargo maiden hurdle and by Why Not Racing’s Class Launch in a $10,000 maiden claiming hurdle.