Claim is the Name of the Game

I know that many of my friends are not lifelong, hard-core horse racing fans, so from time-to-time, I’ll write about some aspect of the sport to help educate my friends more. Once you’ve watched a few races, you’ll start to hear terms like “Allowance” “Stakes” and “Claiming”. All represent classes of racing and can give you some indication as to the level or quality of the horses running in the race.

Let’s start with “claiming” in this article. Claiming is something I know so much about. I ran 41 times and only 5 of those times were not in Claiming races. Claiming races can also be called “claimers.” Unfortunately, claiming races represent the lowest class of runners. About half of the races run each day are claimers.

Claiming races can be run at any distance. The main feature and where such races get their name is that any horse in the race can be bought. Each claiming race will have a money limit that horses can be purchased for. For example, in my race in 2002 at Rockingham Park (http://www.equibase.com/premium/eqbPDFChartPlus.cfm?BORP=P&STYLE=EQB&DAY=D&tid=RKM&dt=09/04/2002&ctry=USA&race=1) I was entered into a claiming race where the claiming prices had to be between $4,500-$5000. My owners at the time entered my for the top price of $5,000.

Can anyone claim a horse out a claiming race? Not exactly. You must be a licensed  owner or the agent of such an owner who have a horse registered to race at the meet or you must obtain a certificate from the stewards prior to the races for making a claim.

Prior to the race the “claim” must be made. That is, if you had wanted to buy me in the above race, before the race was run, you would have put in your claim to buy me. After the race, I would have been yours. I won that race, so who gets the purse money? My former owner would have received the money. The owner who put the claim would get me.

It’s definitely a buyer beware market because you would own the horse you claimed no matter what. The horse might be in tip-top shape. The horse might be injured. The horse might be dead. It doesn’t matter, you still pay the money and own the horse. Running a horse in a claiming race is also a risk, especially if the horse does well.

Generally, claiming tags can be as low as $1,000 and go as hight as $100,000. Those $100,000 races are very rare. The higher the price, the better the horses generally are in the race. Some horses start out their careers or very quickly end up in the claimers. You will also tend to see older campaigners who have fallen off their previous higher class form being “dropped” into the claiming ranks.

There are two variations of the standard claiming race: Maiden Claiming Races and Optional Claiming Races. Maiden Claiming Races simply are claiming races as described above but are for horses that have never won a race before. The first race I ever won was a Maiden Claiming Race. After winning a race a horse is no longer eligible for any maiden racess.

The other variation, Optional Claiming Races, means an owner can run a horse in the race for a claiming tag or can opt not to do so. That’s the general definition of the race. In reality, it’s a mix of a claiming race and a starter allowance race. We’ll go into a bit more detail on optional claimers in my next stop in the racing definition blog – Allowance Races.

When you watch a claiming race, keep in mind that these horses are most likely to be the ones in the greatest danger. They are the ones who will quite likely need a new career quickly, so if you might be looking to adopt an OTTB, you just might see one who catches your eye in the claiming ranks. Afterall, that’s where a good-looking chestnut gelding was running just a few years back, but I wouldn’t know who that would be – wink-wink.

Remember, it doesn’t matter if it’s by a nose or daylight, a win is a win!

Your pal,

Blue Blue Sea

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Junebugred – KY Derby Contender

In the September 2010 Keeneland yearling sale, a chestnut colt went through the ring and sold for a mere $20,000 dollars. While most of us would not consider $20,000 a small amount of cash, consider that Seattle Slew sold as a yearling for $17,500 in 1975. With inflation, that sum would be considerable more than $20,00.

Junebugred was that chestnut colt who went through Keeneland ring in 2010. While it is way too early to compare any of the current three year olds to the great Seattle Slew, it’s important to note that Seattle Slew was considered a bargain at that price in 1975.  With over $95,000 in earnings already, Junebugred can already be considered a bargain for that $20,000. On top of that, he is a legitimate contender to make the gate on the first Saturday in May.

Checking, Junebugred’s pedigree, reveals a dosage index of 1.91 with a distribution squarely in the center – the classic distance – the Triple Crown races. He is by CORINTHIAN (Pulpit) out of the Dixieland Band mare, DIXIE MELODY. Corinthian ran 12 times, winning 6 and finishing out of the money only 3 times. Dixie Melody ran 7 times herself, winning twice. Both parents won ran in stakes company with Corinthian winning and Dixie Melody placing. Throughout his pedigree you will see the likes of such classic winners as: Northern Dancer, Easy Goer, AP Indy, Seattle Slew, Alydar and Secretariat.

Junebugred himself has raced three times so far in his career. His first out as a two year old he finished a non-threatening third. He raced again as a two year old. This time he broke his maiden in a battle with a determined foe from the 1/8th pole, finishing a length ahead. In January of 2012, he made his three year old bow, this time in stakes company in the Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park. Again, the colt faced setbacks, but was determined not to cede the lead once he had it, winning by a neck. In winning the Smarty Jones Stakes, Junebugred proved that he could hold his own in stakes company, beating the talented filly On Fire Baby and the well thought of Optimizer. More importantly, his handling of whatever was thrown at him – issues at the start, traffic issues and a determined foe – that he had the toughness to handle it all.

Going against Junebugred may be his breeding cross. Pulpit and his sons crossed with Dixieland Band mares has not been particularly successful. True Nicks only rates this cross as a C+. Cause for additional concern with his chances on Derby day is his late birthday. Junebugred was foaled on May 23. Such late born foals are not even actually three for the running of the Kentucky Derby. Often that can make a huge difference.

Should Junebugred stay healthy and make it to the gate for the Kentucky Derby, he may have the deck stacked against him on age and breeding, but I wouldn’t count him out of being a serious contender if he does make it in.

Fight to the finish and keep in the money!

Review of My Racing Heart

“Vivid memoir . . .Mooney is an adventurer at heart, and she escorts us with an unscrupulous, generous eye through her romance with the track.” – O, The Oprah Magazine

Published in 2002, Mooney’s tale of life, family and racehorses is certainly not new, but if it’s one you missed, it’s well worth picking up a copy and reading it. Mooney’s pace and method of weaving together her personal story, her grandmother’s history and life on the track are perfectly done to capture the reader’s attention and draw them in for a run to the wire.

Mooney begins by drawing us into her beloved grandmother’s world when the track was considered no place for a lady. The pull of the track is too much for her grandmother, and she ignores tradition, expecially when she travelled to watch the first Triple Crown contender she fell for – Regret – the champion chestnut filly who would storm home to be the first girl to win the roses. That determination and spunk were passed on to Mooney along with a love for the track.

Mooney recalls splendid days with her grandmother where they two of them would study the racing forms and make their picks for the coming KY Derby trail. She recalls with fondness and anguish her backing of my great-grandsire, Alydar, as he came in second all three times in the Triple Crown to Affirmed.

Not only is this a book about racing, it’s history and color, but it is also a story about family and bonding. It shows what racing can be at it’s best – a microcosm of our triumphs, failures and finest moments. I rate this book a solid 5 stars on my 1-5 scale for books. If you have not read this fine book, I encourage you to pick up a copy.

http://www.amazon.com/My-Racing-Heart-Passionate-Thoroughbreds/dp/0060198532

Nan Mooney’s blogsite:

http://nanmooney.blogspot.com/

That is all from Blue Blue Sea who is breaking free and heading for home!

Russian Greek – KY Derby Contender

Russian Greek is a beautful nearly black three year old colt by Giant’s Causeway out of the Grindstone mare Sand Dollar. Russian Greek sports a pedigree that includes Kentucky Derby winners: Secretariat, Grindstone, Unbridled, Northern Dancer, Swaps and Chateaugay. In addition, his pedigree also includes such horses as Alydar, Storm Cat and the great filly Mariah’s Storm.

Such a pedigree clearly shows that Russian Greek has the kind of classic breeding needed to win on the first Saturday in May. His dosage index sits at a solid 1.77, indicating he should have the stamina plus turn of foot needed to handle the classic distance.

On top of pedigree and dosage index, actual race record can show clues to potential for Kentucky Derby success. Russian Greek has run four times and only lost one of those efforts. He won his first race as a two year old, which was run on dirt. As the Kentucky Derby is run on a dirt track, it can be instructive to see if a horse can handle the surface. In that first race, Russian Greek easily handled the surface winning by five lengths. His next race proved to be his only lose. He came in fifth that day and never was any threat. It is important to note that his only loss came at six furlongs, a sprint. The Kentucky Derby is considered a route race. His next two races were route races and he won both, both were also Stakes races. His style of winning those two races also can point to KY Derby success. He proved in those races to be a deep closer with a big late kick to come up with the win. In the California Derby, his last race out, he was described as having a “bold rally” to win.

Potentially working against Russian Greek is that he is based in California. Historically, California horses do not fare well when they travel to Kentucky. Additionally, if most of his races continue to be on synthetic surfaces, there will be the question as to how he will handle dirt, in particular the Churchill surface, though he has logged one win on dirt.

Providing he can stay healthy and continue to run well, I believe we will likely be seeing him in Kentucky on the first Saturday in May. I will be interested to see what he does in his next planned race, the El Camino Real Derby.

Keep running toward the finish line my friends!

Blue Blue Sea

Kentucky Derby 2012

The Kentucky Derby may seem like a long ways off, but before you know the first Saturday in May will be here, and coz you humans like to sip one too many mint juleps, it will be too late to make any sense of who’s who in the Kentucky Derby field. 🙂

That’s why it’s wise to take a moment now to start scouting out potential Kentucky Derby horses. Then you can watch as the prep races are run and narrow it down, have your pick or several picks, make your bets early on Derby day and drink all those mint juleps. You’ll either be celebrating with another or drinkin another to forget how much you lost on the ponies. Why do you call us ponies? You know we’re horses right?

Anyhow, I’ll be taking some time in the weeks ahead to feature a horse who might be a Kentucky Derby contender. I try to stay away from the big names this early out, so don’t expect me to be blogging about Hansen or Union Rags and the like, not for now at least. Everyone will be watching them right up until Derby day should they make it that far.

So get ready to hear who an OTTB (that’s off-track Thoroughbred) sees as potential candidates that might not be the big names when I talk about them. My first one coming up will be Russian Greek, a horse that’s rather intriguing to me.

From in the stable,

Blue Blue Sea

Happy Birthday to Me!

Welcome friends to my blog – Stable Thoughts. I will post here short blogs about whatever I feel like – things I observe in the horse world, human world or other animal world or all of the above.

I am starting this blog on my birthday and what a birthday it was. My human visited with a special cake made just for me. I’d like to say that I chomped it down and was very happy with all the wonderful cards and mints sent to me by my friends. Well, I was very happy with those mints and ate several, thank you all! But what I wanted most of all was to get outside and stretch my legs a bit and play in all that snow! Knowing that was what I most wanted, my human let me out without too much fuss.

Once I was outside, I was a bit dissapointed to find that the snow had melted and refroze into ice, not so much fun to run and roll in, but it still felt good to be outside.

I am now not only officially 13, but have actually turned 13. On birthdays, I tend to find myself looking back and forward. Does that make sense? Last year, one of my little brothers got to leave Puerto Rico where our dam is and come to the United States. I wish our dam could come back home, too. I am sure she misses the fine KY fields where she lived until the year I was born. And then I think of my sire, Sea Hero, who has become the oldest living KY Derby winner. He’s far away in Turkey, not the kind you humans eat, but a country I’m told. I know he must miss those VA fields where he took his first wobbly steps. I miss KY myself. Paris is such a wonderful place for a young foal to grow up. I’ve done quite a bit of traveling since that day 13 years ago when I stepped into the world. I’ve been to Florida, New Hampshire, Massachusettes, West Virigina and now Maryland.

As I look forward to another year, I am thankful for all my equine friends, the wonderful new human friends I’ve met through the Internet, the humans who come to visit me and the human who I call my own. I hope to live at least another 13 years knowing such wonderful individuals.

Be kind,

Blue Blue Sea

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