Race of the Week 2017

Fair Grounds Hosts Claiming Crown on Saturday

Fair Grounds Race Course
Photo: CDI
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.


The 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 showcase the $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; the $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.



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 Hawthorne 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.


Stablemate 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.


Maggi Moss’s 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 Crown Jewel


Conditioned by 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 at Oaklawn. 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.



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 as the 2-1 morning line choice in the Emerald.


Still 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.  



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.




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Bummer that Rapid Redux isn't making the trip down there.

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