Prior to the Far Hills Races on Oct. 17, three-time champion owner Irv Naylor was engaged in a seesaw battle with Gil Johnston for the year’s title. Far Hills, and specifically its $300,000 Grand National (Gr. 1), changed everything.
Naylor bolted to the top of the standings with three victories, including Dawalan’s highly professional victory in the Grand National. The York, Pa., sportsman and philanthropist more than doubled his 2015 earnings to $608,450 and now is in pursuit of his own record of $719,725 in 2011, when he won the Grand National with Black Jack Blues.
In addition to Dawalan’s half-length score, Naylor and trainer Cyril Murphy had a third with Rawnaq in the Grand National, a victory in the $50,000 Peapack with One Lucky Lady, and a hard-charging win by Ebanour in the $50,000 New Jersey Hunt Cup.
Naylor’s Decoy Daddy and Charminster finished fifth and sixth, respectively in the Grand National to give Naylor $231,000 from the $300,000 Grand National purse, the largest ever at a National Steeplechase Association race meet. Naylor’s Tax Ruling, trained by Billy Meister, finished second in the New Jersey Hunt Cup.
Naylor now occupies second place on the all-time list of NSA owners, behind only George Strawbridge Jr.’s Augustin Stables.
Trainer Murphy’s day was no less memorable, including his first Grade 1 as a trainer (he had one Grade 1 score as a jockey), and his first three-win day as a trainer. His three wins allowed him to leap-frog into second place by purses.
Jack Fisher, who also had three wins at Far Hills, has all but locked up the year’s trainer championships by wins and purses. He has 23 wins; his closest competitors are Jonathan Sheppard and Jimmy Day with eight each.
Fisher’s biggest score was the $100,000 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle with Bruton Street-US’s Scorpiancer. Bruton Street-US’s The Nephew also won the $35,000 Appleton Ratings Handicap, and DASH Stable’s Ice It took the $25,000 Gladstone for three-year-olds.
Fisher’s bankroll increased by more than $113,000, and he now has 2015 earnings of $871,100. He holds the record for most trainer earnings in a year with more than $1.1-million in 2008.
Ross Geraghty and Connor Hankin each had two wins on a brisk, breezy day in central New Jersey. Geraghty beat brother Barry Geraghty to the finish line aboard Dawalan in the Grand National, and he also rode One Lucky Lady. Hankin, a college senior, won with Scorpiancer and The Nephew.