Irvin S. Naylor’s Decoy Daddy, reserved behind the early speed of stablemate Lake Placid, took the lead at the last fence of the $50,000 Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3) on Saturday, April 20, and drew away to an 8 3/4-length victory in the featured race at the 92nd annual Middleburg Spring Races in the heart of Virginia’s hunt country. The graded stakes victory was one of four wins on the eight-race Middleburg program for Naylor, who jumped to the top of the owner list by earnings.
With Carol-Ann Sloan in the saddle for trainer Brianne Slater, Decoy Daddy ran the Temple Gwathmey’s 2 1/2 miles in 5:23.60 on ground rated as good.
Naylor’s Lake Placid, the 2011 novice champion, went to the lead early and held the advantage until Hickory Tree Stable’s Gustavian took over approaching the final fence. But Sloan had Decoy Daddy on the move, and he jumped to the advantage at the last obstacle before drawing away to an impressive victory.
Oakwood Stable’s Country Cousin closed well from the back of the field under Roddy Mackenzie and overtook Gustavian to finish second by 1 1/2 lengths. Augustin Stables’ Rainiero finished fourth behind Gustavian. Two-time Grade 1 winner Spy in the Sky was a late scratch.
The historic Temple Gwathmey was Decoy Daddy’s first victory over fences since his second consecutive victory in Montpelier’s Noel Laing in November 2011. In his 2013 debut, the 11-year-old Irish-bred gelding had finished an even third behind major winners Divine Fortune and Slip Away in the Stoneybrook Steeplechase’s Sandhills Cup allowance hurdle on April 6.
Slater enjoyed the best day of her training career with three victories for Naylor. She saddled Charminster for a victory in the $20,000 Glenwood Hurdle optional allowance and Sacred Soul for a win in the second division of the $20,000 Paul R. Fout Sport of Kings maiden hurdle. Ross Geraghty rode those two winners. Naylor picked up a fourth Middleburg victory when Saluda Sam won the $15,000 Alfred M. Hunt. Willie McCarthy rode for trainer Billy Meister.
In the afternoon’s featured timber race, Holston Hall’s Hot Rize won the $20,000 Middleburg Hunt Cup by 1 1/4 lengths over Farndale. Jeff Murphy rode the winner for trainer Edward Mulligan. Naylor’s Almarmooq finished third.