Irv Naylor’s diverse stable notched two victories at Saturday’s Aiken Fall Races, including the featured $30,000 Budweiser Holiday Cup maiden hurdle with Family Tree. The Naylor team also won the $15,000 maiden claiming hurdle with Mighty Mark.
With Barry Foley in the saddle, Family Tree made a strong late bid and won by two lengths over Fightinirishabit. Trained by Neil Morris, Family Tree ran the 2 ¼-mile distance in 4:22 4/5 on turf rated as good.
The Holiday Cup kicked off the program at the Aiken Horse Park, and Naylor also took the second race with Mighty Mark, who was making only his second start over fences for trainer Kathy Neilson. Ridden by Alain Cawley, Mighty Mark drew off to an 8 ½-length score over Elmutahid. Mighty Mark ran the 2 ¼-mile distance in 4:19 4/5.
Aiken Fall’s final two races were reminders of steeplechasing’s strong family connections. In the maiden hurdle for fillies and mares, Kieran Norris rode Timber Town Stable’s Lela’s Gift to an 18 ½-length victory for his wife, trainer Madison Meyers.
The nightcap was won by Morning Star Farm’s Diplodocus, who prevailed by a half-length over Bite the Bit. McLean Hendriks was in the saddle for his father, owner-trainer Ricky Hendriks.