Owner Irv Naylor currently leads the National Steeplechase Association leader board by a wide margin, and he will send out a formidable pairing of Lake Placid and Changing Times for the $20,000 Tryon Equestrian Partners Block House, the featured optional allowance hurdle at the 68th annual Block House Races in Tryon, N.C., on May 3.
The Block House shifted its event this year to the first Saturday in May, and its shares the date with the Kentucky Derby. Block House officials have been planning a festive afternoon of racing events for their Derby Day debut, and first post time will be 2 p.m.
Lake Placid and Changing Times have been racing at the top level of National Steeplechase Association competition. Lake Placid, who was the sport’s leading novice in 2011, finished fifth in last year’s Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) in the spring and also ran fifth in the Noel Laing Handicap at the Montpelier Hunt Races in the fall.
Changing Times completed in England last spring and made his U.S. debut with a third-place finish in the Laing. He subsequently was pulled up in the Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1). He opened his 2014 season with a close second in an optional allowance hurdle at the Middleburg Spring Races on April 19.
Cyril Murphy has taken over the training of Lake Placid, who will be making his first 2014 start, and Harry Haynes will ride. Trainer Kathy Neilson named Carol-Ann Sloan to ride Changing Times. Under the conditions of the optional allowance, Lake Placid will race for a $20,000 claiming price.
Virginia-based trainer Richard Valentine will saddle The Elkstone Group’s Albany Road, who made his 2014 debut with a fifth-place finish in the $50,000 Carolina Cup. Kieran Norris will ride the Mr. Greely gelding.
Another Virginia-based horseman, Jimmy Day, will send out Randleston Farm’s Duc de Savoie, who fell at the final fence of the Sandhills Cup allowance hurdle at the Stoneybrook Races in North Carolina on April 5.
Dale Thiel’s Sir Dynamite will race for a $20,000 claiming price in the 2 3/8-mile Block House. Eighth in last fall’s Colonial Cup, the Dynaformer gelding finished third in a Carolina Cup starter handicap on March 29. Danielle Hodsdon rides Sir Dynamite for trainer Britt Graham.
Completing the field is John Griggs’ G G Gal, a Whywhywhy mare who scored her maiden victory on last fall’s Colonial Cup program. Trained by Dave Washer, she lost her jockey in an optional allowance hurdle at the Aiken Spring Races and was fourth in an optional allowance hurdle at the Atlanta Steeplechase.
Who do you like in the Block House?
Changing Times (Ire). 2006 b. g., Dr. Massini (Ire)—Pharenna (Ire), by Phardante (Ire). Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Kathy Neilson. Jockey: Carol-Ann Sloan. 2014 record: 1-0-1-0, $3,600. 2013 NSA record: 2-0-0-1, $4,500. 7-2 odds. Finished second, beaten a head, in Middleburg Spring Races’ optional allowance hurdle. Pulled up in 2013 Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup after third in his U.S. debut in Noel Laing Handicap at the Montpelier Hunt Races on Nov. 2. Last spring, posted third-place finishes at Cheltenham and Aintree.
Albany Road. 2007 ch. g., Mr. Greeley—Jane’s the Name, by Trempolino. Owner: The Elkstone Group. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Kieran Norris. 2014 record: 1-0-0-0, $2,000. 2013 NSA record: 6-1-1-1, $31,618. 9-2 odds. Finished fifth in the Carolina Cup in his 2014 debut. Won maiden hurdle at Fair Hill Races in late May before good second in Saratoga optional allowance. Finished sixth in Colonial Cup’s allowance hurdle after third in Steeplechase at Callaway’s AFLAC Supreme Hurdle.
Duc de Savoie. 2006 b. g., Harlan’s Holiday—Tee for Three, by Lil E. Tee. Owner: Randleston Farm. Trainer: Jimmy Day. Jockey: Open. 2014 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2013 record: 1-0-0-0, $2,500. 2012 NSA record: 6-1-1-0, $24,450. 8-1 odds. Fell at the last fence of the Sandhills Cup allowance hurdle at the Stoneybrook Steeplechase in North Carolina on April 5. In his only 2013 start, finished fourth in Carolina Cup for novices. Pulled up in 2012 Charleston Cup optional allowance hurdle after distant sixth in Foxbrook Champion Hurdle at Far Hills, N.J. Finished seventh, beaten 6 1/4 lengths, in Belmont Park’s 2012 Lonesome Glory Stakes (Gr. 1).
Sir Dynamite. 2005 b. g., Dynaformer–Lady Ilsley, by Trempolino. Owner: Dale Thiel. Trainer: Britt Graham. Jockey: Danielle Hodsdon. 2014 record: 1-0-0-1, $2,000. 2013 record: 4-1-1-1, $22,600. 2012 record: 2-1-0-0, $6,800. 6-1 odds. Finished third in a Carolina Cup starter handicap hurdle on March 29. Ran third in Aiken Fall’s $25,000 Budweiser Holiday Cup at the Aiken Fall Races on Oct. 26. Won 2013 Aiken Spring Races optional allowance hurdle and was second in starter allowance at Queen’s Cup in North Carolina.
G G Gal. 2009 ch. m., Whywhywhy—Royal G G, by Royal Academy. Owner: John K. Griggs. Trainer: Dave Washer. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. 2014 record: 2-0-0-0, $1,500. 2013 record: 1-1-0-0, $9,500. 10-1 odds. Homebred mare lost jockey in Aiken Spring Races optional allowance hurdle on March 22 and was fourth in similar race at the Atlanta Steeplechase. Won maiden victory over fences at 2013 Carolina Cup.
Lake Placid. 2005 b. g., Giant’s Causeway–Saranac Lake, by Smart Strike. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Jockey: Harry Haynes. 2013 record: 3-0-0-0, $7,800. 2012 record: 5-2-0-0, $27,500. 2011 record: 12-6-0-1, $114,750. 3-1 odds. Ended 2013 season with distant fifth-place finish in Noel Laing Handicap at Montpelier Hunt Races. Also fifth in 2013 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) after seventh in the Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3). Was 2011’s novice champion.