Photo: Eclipse Spotswire
Gulfstream Park is the site of the 2013 Claiming Crown, which consists of eight races worth at least $110,000 for current or former claiming horses. To be eligible to a Claiming Crown race a horse must have run at or below the specified claiming amount for that race during the last two years. The fields are comprised of a mix of horses that are currently running in claiming races, running in allowance races and/or running in stakes races. The Claiming Crown therefore puts an extra emphasis on Class and Form handicapping.
This year there are eight Claiming Crown races at varying distances and on dirt and turf. For the first time as part of the festivities a single wager linking all eight of the races is being offered. The wager, dubbed the Ultimate 8, requires horseplayers to select the winner in each if the eight Claiming Crown races. The wager is only being offered on the Claiming Crown card so it must pay out. 75% of the pool will be split between those with the most correct selections and 25% will be paid out as consolations to those with the next most correct selections. The pool is guaranteed to be at least $100,000 and the minimum wager amount is $0.10.
Following is a brief look at each of the eight Claiming Crown races as well as which horses I will be using on my Ultimate 8 ticket.
Race 3 - Leg 1 - Iron Lady Stakes
The Iron Lady looks like a potential one horse race for those brave enough to start the Ultimate 8 with a single. Winiliscious (#5) towers over the field on paper and likely will be sent off as an odds on favorite (less than even money). Although she looks like an easy single I'm also going to include Courtney Ryan (#3), the projected pacesetter based on TimeformUS's pace projector. If she can secure the lead with a short run to the first turn she could steal the race.
Race 4 - Leg 2 - Glass Slipper Stakes
In the Glass Slipper Marty Wolfson sends out the top two morning line choices in Centrique (#4) and Lexington Pearl (#3). Both are strong contenders here with the former likely to go off as the odds on favorite. I'll use both and will also include the projected pacesetter One Fast Frog (#8).
Race 5 - Leg 3 - Express Stakes
The Express will make or break a lot of tickets as Ribo Bibo (#1) will be the most likely single in the sequence. A winner of 9 of 10 races in 2013 he projects to get the lead from his rail post and lead the field on a merry chase.
Race 6 - Leg 4 - Rapid Transit
Kingsford Drive (#5) projects to set the pace in the Rapid Transit and if left alone he will be very dangerous. I'll also use the Mike Maker trained Ghost is Clear (#6) who I doubt will go off at anywhere close to his 10/1 morning line. For those that have a little extra cash I would also toss in Be Brave (#2) and Grande Shores (#3).
Race 7 - Leg 5 - Tiara Stakes
The projected pace in the Tiara points to a closer and Deanallen'skitten (#6) fits the bill as the morning line favorite. Additionally Grandma's Rules (#10) will also be coming late from off the pace and if for some reason the pace isn't as quick as expected Brandys Secret (#8) can take the field gate to wire.
Race 8 - Leg 6 - Iron Horse Stakes
Defending Iron Horse champ Brother Bird (#2) figures to get a good trip from just off the pace of long shot Whatthecatdrugin (#13). The latter could be dangerous if able to clear from his outside draw before the field enters the first turn. I'll also include closer Point Finish (#9) in case the pace is too fast for the top two.
Race 9 - Leg 7 - Emerald Stakes
Plainview (#2) and Major Marvel (#8) both have a ton of early foot and the former drew an inside post and has no choice but to go early. He is capable, on his best day, to take a field like this gate to wire. Along with the top two I'll also use long shot Alley Oop (#7) who will be coming from off the pace.
Race 10 - Leg 8 - Jewel Stakes
The main event looks like a potential two horse race with Bernie the Maestro (#7) squaring off against Voodoo Storm (#8). Both are logical and both have the right running style (close to the pace) for the 1 1/8 distance. The big negative however is their outside posts, which at this distance at Gulfstream are a disadvantage. For that reason I'll also include last year's runner-up Dominant Jeannes (#2) and for the deep pocket players out there Nevada Kid (#1) who projects to set the pace from the rail should also be included.
Ultimate 8 Tickets
Penny Pincher - 5/3,4,8/1/5,6/6,8,10/2,9,13/2,8/7,8 = $21.60
Economical - 3,5/3,4,8/1/5,6/6,8,10/2,9,13/2,7,8/2,7,8 = $97.20
Deep Pockets - 3,5/3,4,8/1/2,3,5,6/6,8,10/2,9,13/2,7,8/1,2,7,8 = $259.20
As if the Ultimate 8 and the rest of the wagering menu aren't enough action the Claiming Crown races are also part of several Derby Wars handicapping contest including the $10,000 game and the $1,000 Winner Take All Gulfstream game. If you manage to complete the double you'll take home a cool $6,000 like I did last week.