10/22/2011 4:54PM

Far Hills Races: Black Jack Blues caps big day for Naylor, Delozier in Grand National

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FAR HILLS, N.J. – Owner Irv Naylor and trainer J.W. Delozier capped a banner day Saturday at the Far Hills Races when recent import Black Jack Blues made off with the $250,000 Grand National, the richest steeplechase in North America.

It was the third win on the day for the owner-trainer team, all but locking up the National Steeplechase Association owners’ championship for Naylor and providing Delozier with his best day as a trainer. Stablemates Imperial Gin and Lake Placid opened the day with victories, but Black Jack Blues came through in the big one.

The 8-year-old Irish import went immediately to the front under Ross Geraghty, set a contested pace, and turned aside challenges by Organisateur, Dynaski, and Your Sum Man on the final turn to win by seven lengths. Black Jack Blues covered the 2 5/8 miles over soft turf in 5:29 4/5, improving his American record to 2 for 2 since arriving in late September. Organisateur, also an Irish-bred owned by Naylor, finished second, with Dynaski third.

Black Jack Blues raced in England with trainer Rebecca Curtis, winning three times over hurdles and three times over chase fences before being purchased in September for Naylor’s large stable. The son of Definite Article won a restricted stakes at Virginia Fall on Oct. 1 and repeated the performance in the Grade 1 Grand National.

“Winning right off the plane was a pretty big effort, but to come back and do it again against a different group of horses, better horses, going a longer distance was something,” Delozier said. “He was more settled today, Ross was able to give him a breather, and that really helped. I wasn’t sure he’d be able to beat these type of horses.”

A former steeplechase jockey, Delozier trained on the flat for several years and recently took a job training at Naylor’s Maryland farm. He has turned the opportunity into success with recent purchases, including five wins in the last month.

“What a day, I couldn’t have dreamed this,” Delozier said. “I thought all of my horses were coming here to run well, but this is great racing. You don’t come here expecting to do that.”

The Grand National did little to decide the steeplechase championship as
2011 Grade 1 winners Tax Ruling and Mabou did not factor. Grade 1 horses get another chance in the $100,000 Colonial Cup on Nov. 19 in Camden, S.C.