Ready For Challenge

Former Jockey Naylor Seeks Third Victory As Owner

Horse Racing Maryland Hunt Cup

April 24, 2009|By Mike Klingaman | Mike Klingaman,mike.klingaman@baltsun.com

A decade ago, Irv Naylor fell off his mount during a timber race and broke his neck. He has not walked since.

Naylor could have quit the sport. Instead, the one-time jockey became an owner, twice winning the prestigious Maryland Hunt Cup.

Saturday, Naylor will watch the 113th running of the race in Glyndon and root hard for his horse, Askim. A victory would give Naylor the Challenge Cup, a 2-foot silver trophy awarded to an owner with three Hunt Cup victories. That has not been done since 1983.

Naylor won in 2005 with Make Me A Champ (since retired) and last year, when Askim eked out a one-length victory in the four-mile race over 22 hurdles. Askim is one of three favorites among tomorrow's 10 entries, along with Coal Dust, last year's runner-up, and Private Attack.

In last week's Grand National Steeplechase, Coal Dust edged Private Attack at the finish, while Askim struggled home a disappointing seventh.

Naylor isn't worried about his 13-year-old thoroughbred.

"The truth is, we wanted Askim to peak this week, and we think he will," Naylor said. "In the Hunt Cup, he likes to run at the back until the water jump at the 21st fence, then he tends to come on.

"You have to love his heart. When a horse that age reaches back at the end for that extra bit of strength and looks Coal Dust in the eye and says, 'Next time, buddy,' and passes him as he did last year, well ... you've got to admire that courage."

One could say the same about Naylor. April 17 marked 10 years since the spill in the 1999 Grand National that left him a paraplegic. In that race, Naylor, then 63, crashed to the turf when his horse struck the 16th fence and fell.

The anniversary of his accident - to the minute - did not go unnoticed last Friday.

"I was in a business meeting at 4:15 when I looked at my watch," he said. "Someone in the room said, 'You look preoccupied.'

"I said, 'I'm just sitting here feeling how bitter I am about having been unable to do, for 10 years, the things I would otherwise have been doing.' I mean, it took me a year just to be able to clean my teeth.

"But my bitterness is not aimed at steeplechasing. I love the sport, and I've been able to buy some nice horses."

Last year, Naylor led all steeplechase owners with $177,400 in winnings to earn his fourth national title in five years.

He still hopes for a cure for spinal-cord injuries and has given $3 million to help fund research at Michigan State. Naylor donated his stem cells for the project.

Coincidentally, the man leading the research is a veterinarian.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: 113th Maryland Hunt Cup

WHEN: Saturday, 4 p.m.

WHERE: Glyndon

DIRECTIONS FROM BELTWAY: Take Falls Road north to Tufton Avenue and turn left. No parking passes will be sold on race day. Tufton Avenue will be closed to through traffic after 2 p.m. and shut down after 3:15 p.m.

ENTRIES

$75,000, 4 miles over timber

Horse .................................... Weight

Twill Do ..... .......................................165

Private Attack .................................165

Michele Marieschi ......................... 165

Askim .............................................. 165

Rosbrian ..........................................165

Shady Valley ..................................165

Mr. Liberator ..................................165

Coal Dust .......................................165

Make Your Own ...........................165

Western Fling ...............................165

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.