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!
Blue Blue Sea