Irvin S. Naylor, the National Steeplechase Association’s leading owner, had an unprecedented afternoon at the Far Hills Races on Saturday, Oct. 22 when his Black Jack Blues controlled the front end to win the $250,000 Grand National (Gr. 1), the richest race on the NSA’s annual schedule, after his astute claim Lake Placid came back from a victory a week earlier to win the $75,000 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle for novices.
Naylor’s Imperial Gin kicked off a hat trick with a win in the $25,000 Harry E. Harris, a maiden hurdle. In the afternoon’s first race, the $50,000 Peapack for fillies and mares, Naylor’s Lonesome Nun finished second to Mary Ann Houghland’s Sweet Shani, who won by 24 1/4 lengths. Joseph Delozier III trained all three winners for Naylor, a York, Pa., businessman and philanthropist.
On yielding turf, Naylor’s two major winners dominated on the front end. Black Jack Blues went to the lead at the start and was never headed. He jumped well under jockey Ross Geraghty and pulled away on the final turn to win by seven lengths in 5:29.80 for the Grand National’s 2 5/8 miles.
Naylor also picked up second money with his Organisateur, trained by Bruce Miller. Finishing third was Armata Stables’ Dynaski, who was three-quarters of a length ahead of 2009 Grand National winner Your Sum Man, owned by The Fields Stable. Irish invader Dirar was a distant fifth.
Naylor acquired Black Jack Blues over the summer on the recommendation of bloodstock agent Nick Carter. Delozier ran him shortly after his arrival in the United States and won the $35,000 Dorothy Fred Smithwick Hurdle Stakes at the Virginia Fall Races in Middleburg on Oct. 1. Never challenged on the front end, Black Jack Blues scored by 4 1/4 lengths over top novice Demonstrative.
The Grand National, which attracted most of the leading contenders in American steeplechasing’s championship division, was no different. Black Jack Blues went to the lead as soon as starter Barry Watson dropped the flag, and the Irish-bred set a steady pace while jumping well.
Organisateur made a late run to pick up a second-place check under Bernie Dalton, and Dynaski overtook stablemate Your Sum Man for third money. Both Dynaski and Your Sum Man are trained by Tom Voss.
Mabou, upset winner of the $100,000 New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1) at Saratoga Race Course after being claimed there for $30,000, did not handle the yielding ground and was pulled up by jockey Robbie Walsh. Co-owner and trainer David Jacobson said he would consider the $100,000 Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1) in Camden, S.C., on Nov. 19 for his stable’s only steeplechase horse.
Lake Placid doubles up in Foxbrook
Naylor’s Lake Placid, racing on the outside and on the lead in the Foxbrook Champion Hurdle, turned back a challenge from Timber Bay Farm’s History Boy and won by two lengths. Jacqueline Ohrstrom’s Demonstrative made up ground late to finish third, 2 1/2 lengths farther back in the rich novice stakes.
The 2 1/2-mile Foxbrook was the second victory in a week for Lake Placid, a $10,000 claim by Delozier for Naylor from a Colonial Downs victory on Sept. 18. On Oct. 15, the six-year-old Giant’s Causeway gelding had set the pace in the $25,000 Airbus Chase, an optional allowance, and won by 20 lengths at the International Gold Cup in The Plains, Va.
Naylor and Delozier conferred two days after the Virginia victory and decided that the race had taken so little out of Lake Placid that they would make a quick turnaround to the Foxbrook. Jockey Carl Rafter positioned Lake Placid on the far outside, where Naylor said the ground was firmest, and shrugged off challengers to win in 5:13.80.
Sweet Shani is sweet
Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard picked up a victory in the day’s first race, the Peapack, when Sweet Shani dominated her opponents and drew clear to win in 4:19.60 for 2 1/8 miles. Upper Gulch finished third, and Dynaskill was fourth.
Ridden by Danielle Hodsdon, Sweet Shani took over in front of the viewing stand the second time and drew away in the stretch to an easy win. The Peapack was her second major victory of the year, after winning the $50,000 Margaret Henley Currey at the Iroquois Steeplechase in Nashville for the second consecutive year. The Peapack’s $30,000 first-place purse gave her 2011 earnings of $63,000.
Delta Park surges to New Jersey Hunt Cup score
Arcadia Stable’s Delta Park, always well placed under Joey Elliott, surged to the front on the final turn of the $50,000 New Jersey Hunt Cup over timber fences and drew clear to a three-length victory over Robert and Ann Kinsley’s Incomplete, winner of the $50,000 International Gold Cup a week earlier. Rainbows for Luck, second to pacesetter Radio Flyer for most of the trip, finished third, and Armata Stables’ Haddix finished fourth. Delta Park, winner of the Middleburg Hunt Cup in April, ran the New Jersey Hunt Cup’s 3 1/4 miles in 8:03.20.