Jay Trump was a true rags-to-riches story, rising from the claiming ranks as a flat racer to winning some of the most prestigious prizes as a steeplechaser, including the famed English Grand National and three editions of the Maryland Hunt Cup.
A dark bay bred in Maryland, Jay Trump was sired by Tonga Prince out of the Bernborough mare Be Trump. The breeding was unplanned between the two paddock mates (Be Trump was thought to be infertile) and anything but fashionable. Not surprisingly, Jay Trump showed little when brought to the races as a 2-year-old in 1959.
At ages 2 and 3, Jay Trump raced eight times in West Virginia between Shenandoah Downs and Charles Town. He never won a race and his best finish was second in a $1,600 claiming race.
Jay Trump, however, attracted the attention of young steeplechase rider and trainer Crompton “Tommy” Smith, who purchased the horse for $2,000 for his godmother, Mary C. Stephenson, as a hunter prospect. Jay Trump was sent to Butler, Md., for schooling at the Warburton Farm of H. Robertson Fenwick, who found the horse to be in top condition and an outstanding jumper. Jay Trump was used as a hunter and did not race as a 4-year-old.
With Smith as his rider, Jay Trump won his first two official steeplechase races in 1962 at the age of 5. In 1963, Jay Trump won the Maryland Hunt Cup, setting a course record in the process. He repeated in the Maryland Hunt Cup in 1964 and also won the American Grand National and My Lady’s Manor to complete the Eastern hunt “Triple Crown.” Later in 1964, Jay Trump was shipped to England to prepare for an attempt at the Grand National at Aintree. With Fred Winter overseeing his training in England, Jay Trump won the Autumn Trial Chase at Sandown Park and the Brocas Steeplechase at Windsor in the fall of 1964.
In 1965, Jay Trump became the first horse bred, owned and ridden by an American to win the Grand National. Regarded as third choice in the race behind Freddie and The Rip in the field of 47, Jay Trump defeated Freddie by a length in 9:30⅗ for the journey of four miles and 856 yards, as 33 of the entrants failed to complete the course. More than 100,000 spectators were on hand to watch the historic event.
Jay Trump then finished third in France’s Grande Course de Haies d’Auteuil before returning to America. He won the My Lady’s Manor for a second time and tied a record previously set by five others when he won his third Maryland Hunt Cup in 1966. Jay Trump won the race by eight lengths against old rival Mountain Dew. Both horses had previously won the race twice and Mountain Dew went on to win the Maryland Hunt Cup a third time in 1967 following Jay Trump’s retirement.
Following his 1966 campaign, Jay Trump was retired with a record of 12-4-1 from 26 starts and earnings of $75,926. Jay Trump spent the rest of his life at Stephenson’s farm near Cincinnati, Ohio, and died in 1988 at the age of 31. His remains were transported to the Kentucky Horse Park, where he was buried near the finish line of the steeplechase course.