Irv Naylor, all but assured his fifth leading owner title in six years, locked up the timber owner title on Sunday when his Almarmooq defeated Armata Stables’ Cornhusker by a neck in the $35,000 Pennsylvania Hunt Cup. Renaissance Stables’ Aero finished third, and Upland Partners’ Sovereign Fund took fourth money in a field of six timber specialists.
Arcadia Stables’ Delta Park, bidding for his second straight victory in the four-mile Pennsylvania Hunt Cup, lost rider Sean McDermott, and Schoolhouse Woods refused to start for the second time in three races.
With Gerard Galligan riding for Kathy Neilson, Almarmooq ran the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup distance in 10:18.60 on turf rated as good. The Unionville timber classic was Almarmooq’s first start since a sixth in the Willowdale Steeplechase on May 10 and his first in-the-money finish this year from a total of four starts. The $21,000 first-place purse lifted eight-year-old Dynaformer gelding’s 2015 earnings to $23,250.
The purse money raised Naylor’s 2015 earnings above $660,000 as he continued to advance toward his record of $719,725 set in 2011. The York, Pa., sportsman and philanthropist assured himself the title as champion timber owner with more than $160,000 in purse earnings. His closest competitor at $124,550 is Michael Wharton, whose only starter, 2015 timber champion Grinding Speed, won the International Gold Cup on Oct. 24. The Pennsylvania Hunt Cup closed out the National Steeplechase Association’s 2015 schedule of timber stakes races.