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Thoroughbred racehorses from all over the country will be arriving at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots this week, as 90 horses who have raced in 25 different states and Canada in 2023 have been entered in the Dec. 2 Claiming Crown. The breeding programs of 11 different states will be represented, including Louisiana, Kentucky, Florida, Illinois, Washington, New Jersey, Arkansas, New York, Ohio, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania.Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the eight-race championship pits the nation’s top claiming-level horses against each other as they battle for their share of $1 million in purses. The Claiming Crown races are conducted under starter-allowance conditions, meaning they are restricted to horses that have competed at least once for a certain claiming level or cheaper during a designated time frame.At seven entries apiece, trainers Mike Maker and Robertino Diodoro lead all barns. Maker’s cadre is led by the United Nations (G1) winner Therapist, one of four stablemates entered in the 12-horse $150,000 Claiming Crown Emerald at 1 1/16 miles on turf. The Steve Sexton Mile winner Frosted Grace (G3) is the highlight of Diodoro’s trio in the 1 1/8-miles $200,000 Jewel. Stabled at Fair Grounds, Joe Sharp means business with six entries, including Money Supply, the favorite of nine entered in the Jewel.First post for Saturday’s 11-race program is scheduled for 12:45 p.m (all times Central). The Claiming Crown races begin in Race 3 with the $75,000 Ready’s Rocket Express (1:45 p.m.) and conclude with the $200,000 Jewel (Race 10, 5:15 p.m.).
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The star of Joe Sharp’s six entries on the day, Money Supply has been given top billing in Saturday’s marquee event, the $200,000 Claiming Crown Jewel at 1 1/8 miles for 3-year-olds and up.Saturday’s 25th annual Claiming Crown Day will feature eight races for hard-knocking horses from across the nation. Returning to Fair Grounds for the first time since 2011, it is the second straight year that the series will be hosted by a Churchill Downs Inc. property, as the 2022 races were held at the company’s flagship track in Louisville. First post is 12:45 p.m. and the featured Jewel will go as Race 10 of 11 at 5:15 p.m.
As the 5-2 favorite, Jordan Wycoff’s 4-year-old colt by Practical Joke was claimed from Chad Brown last August at Saratoga. In Sharp’s care, Money Supply finished second going the Jewel-distance at Saratoga, then won his next two races, both coming at Churchill Downs. Facing first-level allowance competition in his most recent victory, Money Supply finished open lengths ahead of next-out winner Arro Smash and the ever-promising 3-year-old Banishing.
Entering three of the nine entries, trainer Robertino Diodoro looms over the field with the second, third, and fourth choices in the morning line. At 3-1, Flying P Stable’s Saqeel leads the Diodoro trio. Over the 5-year-old’s 2023 campaign, he is six-for-eight in the money with three wins, most recently scoring in a first-level allowance at Churchill Downs.
Of the nine entries, only JD Thoroughbreds and Joey Keith Davis’ All West has won at the Jewel-distance of 1 1/8 miles. Trained by Chris Hartman, the 7-year-old’s last win came going 9 panels in a first-level allowance level on April 30 at Oaklawn Park earlier this year. All West is cross-entered in the 6-furlong Rapid Transit Starter.
Here is the complete field for the Claiming Crown Jewel in order of post positions (with jockey, trainer, and morning line):
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The Claiming Crown “couch” awaits eleven turf routers as multiple graded stakes winner Therapist enters the $150,000 Emerald.
Run at 1 1/16 miles on turf, the Emerald will go as Race 9 of 11 with a post time of 4:45 p.m. First post Saturday is 12.45 p.m.
Before Michael Dubb’s 8-year-old son of Freud won the Pan American (G2) and the United Nations (G1), he was dropped in for a tag on three different occasions between September and December of 2022. Each time he was claimed. Dubb and trainer Mike Maker saw Therapist’s latent abilities to run longer distances and pulled the trigger on Dec. 30 for $50,000.
However traumatic it could be for other connections to see the New York-bred millionaire in a race reserved for “blue collar” Thoroughbreds, solace can be found in the fact that Therapist struggles to get 1 1/16 miles, having only two wins in 15 tries. Florent Geroux will bring the 9-5 morning line favorite out of gate 11.
Déjà vu awaits anyone who peruses the field, as Mike Maker has three other entries besides Therapist. The four-headed monster includes Tiberius Mercurius, who has fired blanks at the Emerald distance but has established form which rivals the field; the 5-year-old synthetic specialist Race Craft who has one win on grass; and the front-runner Tatanka, who will make his first start from Maker’s barn after September’s claim.
Here is the complete field for the Claiming Crown Emerald in order of post positions (with jockey, trainer, and morning line):
After battling every step of the way when victorious going 3/4 mile at Churchill Downs in his most recent start, Like a Saltshaker looks to continue his dominance in the $100,000 Rapid Transit Starter.
The 6-furlong Rapid Transit will go as Race 8 of 11 with a post time of 4:15 p.m. First post on Saturday is 12:45 p.m.
Claimed in May by trainer Brittany Vanden Berg, the 5-year-old owned by Marisco Brothers Racing has taken a new step forward in each of his last three races. Tabbed at 9-5 in the morning line, the 9-time winner at the Rapid Transit distance will reunite with Chris Emigh and make his initial move from post 9.
With eight of the eleven entered projected to be prompting the pace, the 7-year-old Solidify could be picking up the pieces late. Owned and trained by Juan Cano, the late-kicking sprinter tried stakes company to no avail in July at Ellis Park. More recently he defeated starter-allowance ranks going 6 furlongs in October at Keeneland and followed that up with two in the money finishes at Churchill, solidifying his position as the 9-2 morning line second choice.
Here is the complete field for the Rapid Transit Starter in order of post positions (with jockey, trainer, and morning line):
Overdrawn with 14, the $150,000 Canterbury Tom Metzen Memorial will see 12 sprinters make a mad dash for cash over the Stall-Wilson turf course.Carded as Race 7 of 11, the Canterbury Tom Metzen Memorial is scheduled to run at 5 1/2 furlongs on turf. First post for Saturday’s Claiming Crown Day is 12:45 p.m. and the Canterbury Tom Metzen Memorial will go to post at 3:45 p.m.Several of the 3-year-old and up entrants made a sizable move forward when recently switching to grass, maybe none more so than the 3-1 morning line favorite Mischievous Rogue. Southern Comfort Stables’ 5-year-old ended 2022 facing claiming ranks on dirt and synthetic, but around that time he was gelded and with that equipment change, came new form. In 2023 trainer William Cowans began running Mischievous Rogue through his allowance conditions, and in all seven races he has finished in the money, including winning two turf sprints in Kentucky running the fastest speed figures of his career. Aboard for four of his five lifetime wins, Luan Machado comes to New Orleans with Mischievous Rogue.
Last June, Michael Sorrels’ Atta Party made his first start on the sod a winning one. Since then he has not lost, most recently scoring the upset at Remington Park in September to seal the deal on 2-for-2 turf sprint perfection. Up for his unveiling on the lawn, Angel Suarez will take the reins of the Arkansas-bred, aiming for his fourth score piloting the 4-year-old Martin Villafranco trainee.
Sent off at 44-1 at Keeneland when debuting on grass in his last start, Zoombie shot to the lead and never looked back. The second win of Shagbark Farm’s 4-year-old campaign, Zoombie’s turf heroics produced his fastest speed figure by double-digits. Trainer Ryan Walsh looks to keep the good thing going in the Metzen. Drawn on the rail and made 12-1 in the morning line, Zoombie will receive the services of Corey Lanerie.
Here is the complete field for the Canterbury Tom Metzen Memorial in order of post positions (with jockey, trainer, and morning line):
Sporting his Claiming Crown champion’s belt, Time for Trouble travels to New Orleans as 7-2 logical choice of thirteen entered in the $75,000 Iron Horse Kent Sterling Memorial.The 1 1/16-mile Iron Horse will go as Race 6 of 11 with a post time of 3:15 p.m. First post is 12:45 p.m.
After Time for Trouble won the 2022 Iron Horse, trainer Jeff Hiles entered him in four marathon-distance stakes, including three graded turf contests. But it was the lone dirt stakes which produced the 6-year-old gelded son of English Channel’s best performance, finishing second to Next. Three for five at the 1 1/16 miles Iron Horse distance, Thorndale Stable and Jeff Hiles’ reigning champion will be piloted by James Graham.
Drawing to the far outside, Clay Sides’ Proverb enters fresh for trainer Joseph Saffie Jr. Ricardo Santana Jr. is named to ride and after winning four of five races since being claimed by Saffie, including three 7-furlong sprints, the break will be crucial for a horse who has done his best running on or near the lead.
Here is the complete field for the Iron Horse Kent Sterling Memorial in order of post positions (with jockey, trainer, and morning line):
The 2023 campaign for TEC Racing’s Perhaps Tonight (Ire) is bookended by 6th-place finishes, but it’s what happened in between that earned her 3-1 morning line favoritism against eight older fillies and mares in the $150,000 Claiming Crown Tiara.
Carded for 1 1/16 miles on turf, the Tiara will go as Race 5 of 11 with a post time of 2:45 p.m. First post Saturday is 12:45 p.m.
With five wins and one second-place finish in eight races, the Sir Prancelot mare will seek to carry that form into the 1 1/16 miles Tiara when making her first start walking over from Tom Amoss’ barn. Upon completing two local works and one previous second-place try across the Stall-Wilson turf course, perhaps the 5-year-old will feel at home enough to tackle what appears to be a very evenly-matched group of turf females.
After recent wins at Saratoga and Kentucky Downs, Freddy Lewis Jr.’s Strong Odor has come into her own as a 6-year-old for trainer Mike Maker. Last out she finished sixth against allowance ranks at Keeneland. She entered the 2021 Claiming Crown Distaff Dash with similar form and finished ninth. Tabbed at 4-1 and drawing just outside the favorite in post 8, Strong Odor will be joined in the gates by her stablemate Anatolian, a surface-versatile 4-year-old by Not This Time.
Douglas Self’s 4-year-old Swoonatra returns to her home state after being claimed for $20,0000 at Gulfstream Park in October. Trainer Joey Foster will saddle the front-running Louisiana-bred for the first time and give a leg up to Emanuel “The Sensation” Nieves.
Here is the complete field for the Claiming Crown Tiara in order of post positions (with jockey, trainer, and morning line):
Having won the 2022 Glass Slipper at Churchill Downs, Invaluable will need to turn the tables on the scorching hot Samarita to defend her crown.Run at one-mile, the Glass Slipper will go as Race 4 of 11 with a post time of 2:15 p.m. First post is 12:45 p.m.
Forgotten Man Racing and Dominic Damiano’s Invaluable will be making only her second start for trainer Joe Sharp, who claimed her for $25,000 from Mike Maker in September. Jareth Loveberry gets the call and will look to maneuver the 4-1 morning line 6-year-old from the two hole against a field of ten females going Fair Grounds’ two-turn, short-stretch dirt mile.
Finishing a dozen lengths behind Samarita last out going 7 furlongs at Keeneland, the equalizer for Invaluable could be the distance. Made the 9-5 top choice by Mike Diliberto, Samarita enters the Glass Slipper on a 6-race winning streak but the sprint-specialist is unproven going one mile. The 4-year-old filly is owned and trained by Jose G. Rodriguez. Emmanuel Giles comes to town to ride.
Here is the complete field for the Glass Slipper in order of post positions (with jockey, trainer, and morning line):
Many of the twelve older males entered in the $75,000 Ready’s Rocket Express have faced each other before and have a score to settle in Saturday’s 6-furlong dirt sprint.
The Ready’s Rocket Express was carded as Race 3, the first Claiming Crown event on the 11-race program. Post time for the six-furlong dash is 1:45 p.m. with the first race scheduled at 12:45 p.m.
Big Frank Stable’s Concrete Glory has been a revelation as a 4-year-old. Including the $6,250 affair where he was claimed by trainer Joseph Saffie Jr., the gelded son of Bodemeister has five wins in six races by over 20 lengths in total. The one blemish came at the hands of his Express foe, Caramel Chip.
As a 5-year-old, Bianco Stable’s Caramel Chip has made the most of his $10,000 starter allowance, winning six of thirteen races after being blanked the year prior. Morning line oddsmaker Mike Diliberto saw this rematch coming, making these two rivals the top choices in the morning line with Concrete Glory getting the nod at 5-2 over the Jose D’Angelo trainee.
Built Wright Stables’ Elle’sbigseacret and Beverly Park, the third and fourth-place finishers from the 2022 Claiming Crown Express are entered looking for another paycheck. Last year’s poster child of the claiming ranks, Beverly Park’s history-making 15th win of 2022 came on Dec. 31, 2022 at Fair Grounds. Both are trained by Raymond Glinter Jr.
It wouldn’t be a true Louisiana Claiming Crown without an entry from trainer Shane Wilson. In 226 starts over the past five years, Wilson has won with 22% of horses making their first and second start with the barn after a claim. Dawn and Scotty Robin transferred High Cruise into Wilson’s barn over the summer, and if Wilson can return the 11-time winner to top form, then the 8-1 morning line would be a gift. Wilson will leg-up Jose Guerrero who will look to get the jump on the field from post 6.
Here is the complete field for the Ready’s Rocket Express in order of post positions (with jockey, trainer, and morning line):
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