The National Steeplechase Association celebrated the conclusion of a record-setting year at its annual awards dinner on Saturday evening at the National Steeplechase Museum, where Irv Naylor’s Dawalan was crowned as the 2015 Lonesome Glory Champions Award winner.
Earlier in the day, the Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup brought down the curtain on a season that featured a record $5,826,050 in purses paid to owners. That figure eclipsed by nearly a half-million dollars the previous mark of $5,359,100 set in 2008.
Naylor, the runaway winner of the year’s owner title, broke his own single-season earnings record with $778,660 in purse money, eclipsing his 2011 record of $719,725.
The York, Pa., sportsman and philanthropist had entered the Colonial Cup meet needing slightly more than $30,000 to set the record, and his powerful stable raced past that target easily when Dawalan pulled away after the last fence of the $100,000 Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1) and won by 5 1/4-lengths over his stablemate Rawnaq. Together, they accounted for $78,000 of the purse.
Both are trained by Cyril Murphy, who accepted the owner’s trophy and the Lonesome Glory Champions Award for Naylor, who was unable to attend. His wife, Diane, accepted the Colonial Cup trophy in his place before returning to their home. “My biggest regret is that Irv isn’t here to see it,” she said. “This is his great love.” Naylor also was the champion owner of timber horses.
Dawalan, a five-year-old French-bred from the Aga Khan’s renowned breeding operation, won two of three U.S. starts and accumulated U.S. earnings of $255,000 to claim the Lonesome Glory Champions Award as the year’s leading earner.
He also became the favorite for the Eclipse Award as North America’s champion steeplechase horse. The largest piece of his purse earnings came from the $300,000 Grand National (Gr. 1) at Far Hills, N.J., on Oct. 17. He finished third in his U.S. debut, Belmont Park’s $150,000 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) on Sept. 24.
Jack Fisher approached his own record for trainer earnings when he closed the 2015 season with $1,047,600 in purses, second only to his $1,156,907 in 2008. Fisher collected his fourth straight title as champion trainer by wins (28, 18 more than runner-up Leslie Young) and his ninth overall.
He also was the runaway leader by purse earnings, nearly doubling Murphy’s total, and secured that title for a fourth time.
Fisher was the trainer of two 2015 divisional champions. Michael Moran’s Ivy Mills closed strongly to win the Springdale Stakes on the Colonial Cup card and claim the Life’s Illusion Filly and Mare championship. DASH Stable’s Ice It reigned as the three-year-old champion after winning the Gladstone at Far Hills.
Paddy Young, who rode Ivy Mills to a stirring victory in the Springdale, reigned as the champion jockey by victories for a fifth time. The last jockey to claim five riding titles was Racing Hall of Fame member Jerry Fishback, who was the special guest of the Colonial Cup for the weekend in Camden, S.C.
Young had entered the Colonial Cup meet with a very narrow lead in the earnings column, but Jack Doyle closed past him with victories in the Raymond G. Woolfe Memorial aboard Ann Jackson’s Boogie Feeva and a score on The Fields Stable’s Kingdom in a Ratings Handicap.
The earnings title was the first for Doyle, a leading Irish jockey who committed to riding the 2015 season in the United States.
Kate Dalton, a newly elected member of the NSA’s Board of Directors, accepted the novice championship for Gary Barber’s African Oil, winner of Saratoga Race Course’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes. Trained by Dalton, the French-bred won three of four starts over fences this year after a modest career on the flat.
Michael Wharton accepted the timber championship for his one-horse stable, Grinding Speed, winner of the My Lady’s Manor, Virginia Gold Cup, and International Gold Cup. The owner credited trainer Alicia Murphy and jockey Mark Beecher, who accompanied him as he accepted the trophy.
Beecher was the champion timber jockey and the champion amateur rider. Connor Hankin, who had two wins on the Far Hills program, was the year’s champion apprentice jockey. Billy Meister shared the champion timber trainer title with Fisher.