Thoroughbred racing’s Claiming Crown, a single day series of races created to be the
“Breeders’ Cup” for the
sometimes-forgotten blue collar owners who have always been the backbone
of the “Sport of Kings,” makes its New Orleans debut this weekend and
headlines the second Saturday program of
Fair Grounds’ 2011-2012 season. The 140th meeting at the nation’s third-oldest Thoroughbred oval will run through April 1.
13th renewal of the Claiming Crown, which will be run for the first
time during a winter meeting, will be highlighted by the nine-furlong
$150,000 Claiming Crown Jewel,
a starter stakes for 3-year-olds and up that have started for a
claiming price of $35,000 or less since 2010. However, it will also
$100,000 Claiming Crown Emerald,
a starter stakes restricted to older horses that have started for a
claiming price of $25,000 since 2010, to be contested at about 1
1/16-miles over Fair Grounds’
Stall-Wilson turf course.
Completing the quintet of races that comprise Saturday’s Claiming Crown at Fair Grounds is the
$75,000 Glass Slipper, a
starter stakes at three-quarters of a mile for older fillies and mares
which have started for a claiming price of $16,000 or less since 2010;
$50,000 Iron Horse, a starter stakes for older horses
that have started for claiming price of $7,500 or less since 2010 that
will be contested at 1 1/16 miles; and the
$50,000 Express, a starter
stakes for older horses that have started for a claiming price of $7,500
or less since 2010 and will be run at six furlongs.
MIKE MAKER ENTRY PROJECTED AS CHOICE IN CLAIMING CROWN JEWEL
The William Butler-owned, Mike Maker-trained coupling of the 4-year-old colt
Al Muhtasib, sired by Distorted Humor, and
Isthmus, a sophomore son of Flower Alley, has been pegged as the 8-5 morning line favorite in Saturday’s
$150,000 Claiming Crown Jewel, the richest event carded for this weekend’s five-race Claiming Crown.
Al Muhtasib, winner of his last start in a $35,000 allowance optional claiming event at
Nov. 6, captured that 1 1/16-mile test while drawing off by 2
1/4–lengths and should appreciate the added distance of Saturday’s
Jewel. French-born jockey
Julien Leparoux, riding champion at Churchill Downs’ recently completed fall session, will journey to
New Orleans for the mount on Al Muhtasib.
Isthmus, in the money in all three of his most recent starts, last
visited the winner’s circle Sept. 21 at Hoosier when best by three
lengths in $50,000 allowance optional claiming company. Jockey Rosie Napravnik, Fair Grounds’ defending jockey champion from last season, will be in the irons astride Isthmus.
It Happened Again, who
races in the silks of Fair Grounds’ leading owner of last season, has
been installed as the 2-1 second choice in Saturday’s $150,000 Claiming
Steve Asmussen, Fair
Grounds’ defending trainer champion of the last four local sessions, It
Happened Again was a disappointing 10th at last asking in Prairie
Meadows’ Grade III Cornhusker June 25. However, last
spring the Moss color bearer captured the Grade III Razorback Handicap
Shane Sellers is named aboard It Happened Again.
Completing the Jewel field is Hugh Zurkuhlen’s
Harmonizer, 3-1 in the early line and another Mike Maker- trained starter with
Corey Lanerie up; Sovereign Stable’s
Rein King, 9-2 with James Graham aboard; and Agave Racing’s
Tutti Buona Gente, 12-1 with Shaun
Bridgmohan in the saddle.
BARYSHNIKOV FAVORED TO BE ON TOES FOR CLAIMING CROWN EMERALD
Jeffrey Columbro and Connie Apostelos’ Baryshnikov,
overmatched in Churchill’s Grade II Breeders’ Cup Marathon Nov. 6 but
with multiple stakes placings on his recent resume, has been installed
the 2-1 morning line choice in the Emerald.
another horse trained by Mike Maker, who has enthusiastically embraced
Fair Grounds’ initial edition of the Claiming Crown and a conditioner
who tied for leading trainer honors at Churchill’s recently completed
fall meeting, Baryshnikov boasts a runner-up finish in Pimlico’s
prestigious Grade II Dixie Stakes last May 21over the Baltimore lawn on
Preakness Day. The son of 2003 Belmont Stakes winner
Empire Maker also finished second to Wise Dan in Churchill’s Grade II
Firecracker Stakes on July 4 last summer, and Wise Dan went on to
capture Churchill’s Grade I Clark Handicap Nov. 25. Louisiana-born
Corey Lanerie will be in the irons.
La Marca Stable’s
Compliance Officer has been pegged as the second choice in the morning line for the Emerald at 3-1. Trained by
Bruce Brown, Compliance
Officer won Belmont’s $125,000 Mohawk Stakes over the Long Island lawn
Oct 22 – his third successive stakes restricted to New York-breds. The
altered son of Officer lost all chance when kept
wide throughout while far back in Churchill’s Grade I Breeders’ Cup
Mile at last asking Nov. 6. Jockey
Alex Solis will ride.
Named to oppose Baryshnikov and Compliance Officer are: Two Dimes Stable’s
Avenstoke, 12-11 with Rosie Napravnik up; Billy, Donna and Justin Hays’
Thabazimbi, 9-2, Robby Albarado;
Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Live In Joy, 8-1, Julien Laparoux; Maggi Moss’s
Quick Delivery, 6-1, James Graham; J. Kirk and Judy Robison’s
Monzante, 12-1, Gerard Melancon; and Sherry Parbhoo’s
Ducduc, Luis Jurado.
COMPETITIVE FIELDS IN THREE ADDITIONAL CLAIMING CROWN STAKES
Tri-Star Racing LLC’s Built to Precision,
a three-time winner at Fair Grounds, is the 7-2 morning line favorite
in Saturday’s first Claiming Crown event, the $50,000 Iron Horse at 1
1/16 miles for
horses that have started for a claiming price of $7,500 or less since
2010, carded as the fourth at 1:33 p.m. CST…Tim Newcomer’s
Sherlock, a two-time winner
at Fair Grounds last season, is the 3-1 favorite in the $50,000 Express
at six furlongs, for horses that have started for a claiming price of
$7,500 or less since 2010, set as the fifth…A
three-horse Billy Donna & Justin Hays-owned entry comprised of Networking,
Shesadozer and Costly has been pegged at 3-1 in the $75,000 Glass
Slipper, for older females which have started for a $16,000 tag or less
since 2010, in Race 7.