Photo: Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
The first major event of Gulfstream Park’s Championship Meet will
take place Saturday with the Claiming Crown, a collection of eight
stakes races worth a total of $1 million.
In 2012, horses sporting the red-and-white silks of Kenneth and Sarah
Ramsey and trained by Mike Maker swept four of the seven Claiming Crown
events, including the $200,000 Jewel with Parent’s Honor. They also came
within a head of winning a fifth with Major Marvel in the Emerald. The
popular couple currently lead all owners in 2013 earnings with over
$11.8 million. They will have a chance to go one better in this year’s
Claiming Crown with contenders entered in five of the eight races on
Saturday’s first post is at 12:40 p.m. The Claiming Crown will kick off
with the Iron Lady as the third race. The third race will also kick off
the 10-cent Ultimate 8, which has a mandatory payout of a minimum of
$100,000. The South Florida forecast is for clear skies throughout the
remainder of the week.
"Racing fans across the country will enjoy this great afternoon of
racing," said Gulfstream President Tim Ritvo. "The horsemen have
supported the Claiming Crown once again with full fields and some of the
country's most popular horses. We're looking forward to a big day."
Said Phil Hanrahan, CEO of the National Horsemen's Benevolent and
Protective Association, “Gulfstream was gracious in offering to host the
Claiming Crown last year, and it was a phenomenal success. Based on
nominations and after looking at the overnight and how full the races
got, it looks like this year is going to be another really good year.”
The Ramseys Claiming Crown wins 12 months ago included the
seven-furlong Rapid Transit with Bernie the Maestro, and the 6-year-old
gelding by Bernstein will tackle the Jewel this year. The 5-2
morning-line favorite is coming off a victory in the Michael G. Schaefer
Memorial Stakes at Indiana Downs on October 5. He will face a maximum
of nine rivals in the Jewel.
The $125,000 Emerald at 1 1/16 miles on the grass attracted an overflow
of 20 horses when entries were taken on Wednesday morning, but it will
be limited to 14 starters. Major Marvel narrowly missed in last year’s
Emerald for the Ramseys and Maker, and he is currently on a six-race
winning streak. The 7-year-old scored in the Unbridled Stakes at
Louisiana Downs on September 7 and followed that with a win in a tough
$100,000 optional claimer at Churchill Downs on November 9.
The Ramsey colors were carried to victory in the $125,000 Tiara by
Starsilhouette in 2012, and the leading owners will be represented by
Deanaallen’skitten in Saturday’s renewal of the 1 1/16-miles contest.
The 6-year-old daughter of Kitten’s Joy has hit the board in each of her
six starts on the Gulfstream turf course. She ships south off a game
success in Aqueduct’s Trevita Stakes for trainer Chad Brown on November
Brother Bird prevailed for the Ramseys in last year’s Iron Horse, a 1
1/16-miles contest that is restricted to runners who have started for a
$7,500 or less. The half-brother to Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird
and the ill-fated Dullahan recently returned from a nine-month break
for trainer Mike Maker. He is coming off a fifth-place finish to
stablemate and fellow Iron Horse entrant Horned Frog in a $5,000 starter
allowance on the Keeneland Polytrack on October 18.
The $110,000 Rapid Transit is a seven-furlong affair for runners that
have been offered for a tag of $16,000 or less. Among the 12 horses
entered is Grande Shores, a homebred for Fred Brei’s Jacks or Better
Farm. The half-brother to Grade I-winning sprinter Jackson Bend was out
of action for 12 months and could have been had for as little as $8,000
last February, but he has rounded into form recently. After two
victories at Calder this summer, the 5-year-old Florida-bred ran second
in the Montbrook Stakes going a mile at Gulfstream September 14.
The $110,000 Express lured a field of 11 horses that had started for
$7,500 or less, and the six-furlong race will see Ribo Bobo attempt to
take his winning streak to 10. Claimed in three straight starts at
Gulfstream last winter, the 5-year-old hasn’t been offered for a tag
since Mr. Amore Stable and trainer Jason Servis snapped him up for
$6,250 in March. His steady rise up the class ladder includes a win in
the Maryland Million Sprint Handicap at Laurel on October 19 and a
second-place finish November 27 in the Fabulous Strike at Penn National.
Fillies and mares will get a chance to strut their stuff going seven
panels in the $110,000 Glass Slipper. Last year’s heroine Starship
Truffles went on to win the Grade I Princess Rooney Handicap and sold
for $1 million last month in Kentucky, a far cry from the maximum
$16,000 claiming price required to be eligible to run in this spot.
Trainer Marty Wolfson, who saddled Starship Truffles last year, will
lead over Centrique and Lexington Pearl on Saturday. Centrique, a
well-bred daughter of Malibu Moon, was claimed twice in 2012, but has
been competing in tougher company this season with a trio of stakes
This year’s Claiming Crown features the inaugural running of the
$110,000 Iron Lady, a 1 1/16-miles race for fillies and mares that have
started for $7,500 or less. Eight fillies and mares were entered, and if
Winiliscious runs to form, the real race may be for second. Previously
trained by Chuck Spina, the 4-year-old earned a 100 Beyer Speed Figure
when romping by 16 ¾ lengths in a starter allowance at Laurel on October
12. Trainer Steve DiMauro has taken over her care on behalf of owner
Top Shelf Stable.
The Claiming Crown was established in 1999 to celebrate the blue-collar
runners that are the backbone of the racing industry. It is run under
starter allowance conditions and is open to horses that have started for
a specified claiming price in the last 24 months.