Claimers: Examining The Business That Is Racing’s Bread And Butter

by | 12.26.2017 | 5:20pm

For much of the country, horse racing is the first Saturday in May or the first weekend in November, with millions of dollars in Thoroughbred muscle jogging before a national television audience. Those inside the business realize the average day in the sport is much less glittery, with card after card filled with horses running for a claiming tag.

Claiming races are the bread and butter of the sport, and their frequency is one of few things that hasn't changed in the past decade. According to the Thoroughbred Times Racing Almanac, roughly 65.6 percent of races in America were either claiming or maiden claiming races in 2006. In 2015, the proportion was 62.7 percent, representing 26,392 total races.

Those figures don't capture the diversity within the claiming ranks. Some horses make just one stop in a claiming race as preparation for allowance contests. Others earn their keep (or try to) with a price on their noses all year long, often making frequent starts to pay the bills.  

Like it or not, Midwest trainer Tim Glyshaw said the claiming business is what supports the rest of the sport.

“I'd say most everyday trainers have 40 percent allowance/stake horses and probably 60 percent claimers. Maybe even closer to 50/50. That's probably a good average for Churchill Downs,” he said. “If you go to Indiana Downs or Mountaineer Park, that number of claimers versus allowance horses goes way up. It's really what keeps our game going. If you look at a really nice day at Churchill Downs, you'll still have four or five claiming races. They wouldn't be able to put on a card for the day if they didn't have claiming horses.

‘You could say the guys that play arena football, you might say if they couldn't talk that they were the ones who were ‘too sore' to play in the NFL. Really, what it is, is they're not as talented, and that is what the claiming game is. They're the ones who aren't as talented.”

Although claimers are now a cornerstone of American racing, the template comes from England. According to the Almanac, the first claiming race may have been held as far back as 1698, per a condition book for the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk. Over the years, the model has shifted from allowing owners to bid on or buy selected finishers after the race, to the current system of every horse in the race being available for a set price.

In modern times, North America conducts claiming races with unparalleled frequency compared to other top-level racing countries. Hong Kong and Australia do not hold claiming races as such; Ireland currently runs about a dozen claiming races each year (although there have been discussions about adding more). France holds claiming races, but they are more akin to silent auctions, with patrons putting claims on the top three finishers after the race is run. Claims are taken as sealed bids, with the highest bid winning the horse, and owners have the chance to put a claim on their own horse if they don't want to give him up.

These days in the U.S., claiming has a somewhat murky reputation, especially to those not directly involved in the business. After all, career claiming horses are less likely than their more accomplished compatriots to retire to a guaranteed career in the breeding shed. The tracks and jurisdictions with the cheapest claiming races can often be the ones with the smallest budgets for post-race drug testing, are less likely to have extensive networks of private investigators or equine medical directors monitoring equine safety, etc. In our reporting earlier this year on enforcement of anti-slaughter policies in Louisiana and Florida, we found a majority of horses rescued from kill pens had made unsuccessful last starts in claiming races before leaving the track.

Additionally, claiming is associated with a few key risk factors for catastrophic breakdowns, according to data from the Equine Injury Database. Dr. Tim Parkin presented data at the 2014 Jockey Club Welfare and Safety Summit that showed switching barns, which claiming horses probably do more than non-claimers, increases the risk of fatal injury. A horse that has been in his trainer's barn for only one month has a 60 percent higher risk of fatal injury than one that's been with his trainer for four years, with the risk declining in a linear fashion the longer the horse remains in the same barn. Horses with a drop in claiming price since their last start are at increased risk for fatal injury: horses dropping in price between $500 and $10,000 have a 14 percent higher risk, while horses dropping in price more than $10,000 have a 16 percent higher risk.  

Tim Glyshaw and Bullards Alley at Churchill Downs after their first graded stakes victory

Not all claimers toil in obscurity, however, and certainly not all of them are destined to leave the track in an equine ambulance or be bound for a feedlot. Anyone working in the business will tell you that some proportion of owners and trainers on the track send retirees to rehoming organizations, and a few of the best-known even greet fans at Old Friends.

Crème de La Fete, John Henry, Lava Man, Seabiscuit, Stymie, Princequillo, and Charismatic all ran for a price at some point in their lives and went on to fame either because of their resumes or in spite of them. Claiming is still a huge percentage of most trainers' business, and arguably made the careers of Hall of Famers Marion and Jack Van Berg, as well as Hirsch Jacobs, and Bobby Frankel in his early days.

Trainer Ron Moquett said he's frustrated by the reputation of the claiming business as a place populated by owners and trainers with no interest in equine welfare. Indeed, a quick scan of Thoroughbreds available for adoption from New Vocations in summer 2017 found six of 14 available horses having made their last starts in claiming races.

Trainer Ron Moquett

“It's perception. The problem is everyone looks at a car wreck. They don't talk about the 500,000 people who went down the road today [with no issue],” said Moquett, who has driven eight hours to claim a horse back in order to retire him. “When there's finances involved you'll never, in any part of life, be able to completely take out someone who is not in the game for the right reason. I don't think horse racing is an exception from that, but at the same time it's not as bad as people make it out to be. Mind you, I go to Keeneland, I go to Oaklawn Park, Churchill, Saratoga, so I'm not at the other spots as much. But for me there's not the big dark cloud I hear everyone talking about. I would hate to think that was the reality.”

Claimers can be good business too, when a trainer and a horse really click.

Glyshaw started his career with claimers and they have been some of his biggest success stories. He picked up Tiban, a gelding by Flatter, for a $7,500 tag, and the horse went on to compete and win in allowance company and collect close to $200,000 by the time he was retired from racing. Tiban also picked up a win in Gulfstream Park's Claiming Crown Express Stakes in 2012. Another Glyshaw trainee, Ready's Rocket, also a $7,500 claim, set a modern day record of 11 wins at Churchill Downs in his 74-race career.

“It is very rewarding to claim a horse and move it up, not to prove you're better than the other guy, but maybe to show there's something you're doing that affected that horse a little differently,” Glyshaw said. “There's times also when you claim a horse that they really liked the other trainer or whatever, and they don't end up running well for you at all.”

The claiming game is unique in its business structure. In a world where veterinary records are not transferred with horses and trainers rarely share secrets, owners invest in horses with varying degrees of information about the animal's past. Trainers must try to make a profit on their investment, while hoping that investment stays healthy and doesn't get claimed from underneath them. Bettors have to decide which horses are on the upswing, which are on the down, and which just need the right set of conditions to be successful.

Despite its prevalence, claiming doesn't get much ink in racing media. Today, the Paulick Report launches a series designed to take a closer look at the blue collar racing world. We'll examine the way claiming races are regulated, how claiming trainers operate, and look at both the sunny and dark sides of claiming. We hope to answer a few questions and generate a few more. Among them: How much of the claiming game's sticky reputation is earned, and how much is unfair? And, more importantly, what can we do to make 62 percent of races in this country safer for the participants?

  • Hamish

    Claiming races benefit only one class of racing constituents, the claimer, or the shark that comes in for the kill. All the money is put into a horse by either the breeder or the early purchaser of the horse, yet the claiming connections can just wait at he bottom of the funnel for horses to race at a level where they not only have a chance at winning, but based on this silly system, they are also for sale. America’s claiming race system needs to go away, replace it with something similar to dog racing’s A/B/C/D rating stratification or other countries that offer the horses up for sale after the race is conducted.

    • really?

      yeah, we need to be more like dog racing. Yeah.
      GTFO.

    • Figless

      Completely agree, claiming races should be discontinued in their current form, only leads to cheating and horse abuse. Return to auction AFTER the race was run, with reserve based on pre-entry declaration. Or use a Handicap system as mentioned above.

    • Snowman

      You are right on track, Hamish. With 95% of the horse population never having the speed or engines for stakes performances, there needs to be a viable alternative that will be attractive to todays ownership pool. Not many have- nor are they willing to invest -the tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars the industry requires of owners to play the game. Then, once their in, they risk losing the horse they have invested financial and emotional capital towards. A truly screwed up system considering the technology available today that can log and track every animal every step from birth to demise. A rating system would solve many of the issues and make the business much easier to attract new players at the owner level.

    • Lehane

      Agree with you, Hamish. Claiming races would never be allowed in Australia.

  • Joel Schiff

    The most interesting and ironic thing about claiming horses is that the owner really does not want to keep the horse, since he is available to be bought (claimed) by someone else. Very often they just want to unload a horse that has soured and probably never will be good again. Finally, many juice trainers love claimers that they can get a win or two off, and then dump them on somebody else. It is a very shady game. Not to say that allowance and stake races are not shady. They are too. Lots of juice trainers at every level.

    • Neigh Sayer

      it is absolutely false that every owner or trainer running a horse in a claiming race wants to lose him. Many times you will see the same trainer claim the horse back. It is a business, sometimes a horse has to take a drop to get a check.

      • Bein

        So absolutely false, Joel. I’d say most people don’t want to lose their horse but have no other choice but to run him “where he belongs” and hope no one takes him.

    • Gls

      Wrong! The claiming business is so that a horse can run at a level they belong. If I run a horse for $20,000 and he loses bad then maybe $10,000. If he wins for 20,000 then maybe back for $25,000. It is like water, will always seek its own level. And there are more protections now then before for the entrants and the conditions of claiming races has opened opportunities. But you have to understand the claiming game to compete in it also before you comment on it. And yes there is always someone willing to hurt someone or some animal for the sake of money, that’s not specific to horse racing.

    • whirlaway

      Many do not understand claiming races especially with young horses, often a youngster is dropped into a 40,000 to 75,000 claiming race hoping nobody will claim them thinking there is potential, but the horse has a chance of a victory and get some confidence winning. Stakes winners have been found that way. Ex: Oscar Nomination claimed that way now a multiple graded stakes winner of over a million. Even at lower amount trainers will find a horse and be successful in their barn not always juicing a horse to do so. While many owners certainly hope horses are claimed others for whatever own claimers pay the bills and for their own reason continue to race them and don’t mind racing claimers. I have known people like that, they also retire and find retirement homes for their horses.While not all claimers find happy endings stakes winners can come to sad endings as well. To say all owners of claimers want to dump them is not always the case. The Olympic Eventing horse Blackfoot Mystery ran all 3 races in claimers when his trainer decided to let him go to have a chance at a new career and now could not even be purchased for his original claiming price. His connections cared and did the right thing for the horse. I agree there is owners that Don’t care, there are everyday animal owners that Don’t care but there are others that quietly do the right thing for their animals including claimers. Blanket statements everyone does not care is not always accurate.

      • Joel Schiff

        Whirlaway, excellent comments. Yes there are a lot of good owners who treat their horses well, including claimers. I was basically talking about the bad apples.

        • whirlaway

          The bad apples need to go in most aspects of life : – )

    • Dr.Fager

      I have owned over 100 horse and probably claimed 80 of them. I can tell you that when we run a horse for a price, we are very rarely hoping to lose them. The same goes for most owners. You often see an owner visibly upset after losing a horse. Of course there are low-lifes who abuse the process (and the horses), and I’m sure this series will get to them. I have some stories to tell.

      • Lehane

        Well why would you be running them for a price in the first place if you very rarely hope to lose them?
        You put them up for sale and you know very well that there’s a good chance of “losing” (as you put it) them. You are selling them because the horse is no longer viable.

        • I have entered a claim and optional claim to get a first out on a young one when the track did not have a maden that i liked (to long ect) or they did not fill the race. Or purly to get the horse some expereince. More often than not there are severial in the same boat, so there is “agrement” about claiming. But yes you could loose your horse and have to buy it back. Thats just one case of going into a clame and not wanting to loose the horse

          They need to write some type of maiden traning races with purses in line with claim races

          So just cause you put one in a claimer does not mean you want to loose the race

          • Lehane

            Are some claiming horses being pulled up so they won’t be “claimed” ?

          • Not lickley, the rider would get fined for not giving a good ride or not having a reason.
            I instruct all my riders that if somthing does not feel right then dont push.

            Just because a horse is in a clame does not mean anyone put in a claim on thay horse

          • Lehane

            Well that’s great, Mr Moo.

          • I should probably clarify
            It would not matter how the horse finished, first or last if someone had a clame in on that horse it would be thers at the end of the race. Thus holding or pulling up the horse would not affect the clame.
            Clames go in the box well before the race starts

        • Flying J

          Or perhaps one can’t afford a high dollar horse? Not all us have deep pockets.

          • Lehane

            Not all racehorse owners in Australia have deep pockets either. Why is it that we manage very well without your claiming races system. Such system is bad for the welfare of the racehorse which is common knowledge in the racing world. Dr Tim Parkin’s findings is testament to that fact.

  • Jack Frazier

    Take away the claimers and you will have two day racing. I think some of the statistics are off when on an eight race card there are more claiming races than allowance races.

    • LongTimeEconomist

      Or do it as they do in most European countries. — most races are handicaps, even cheap horses, and there are very few claiming races,

      • Jack Frazier

        A great idea here if they can bump the purses up to make it a paying proposition for the small trainers.

  • McGov

    Claiming horses are interesting for many reasons. Sometimes they are well bred and injured…purchased for hundreds of thousands and offered up for a fraction of the purchase price as the white flag is raised. Hope lost. Your dream champion suddenly worth pennies on the dollar.
    Others, never intended to be a super star. Blue collar types that race next to compromised blue bloods and use their grit to dig deep and bring home a picture.
    I have thought often about the trail of the claiming horse. Different owners and trainers and grooms. Different feed programs and vet programs. Different equipment and racetracks and trial surfaces and distances and jocks and and and…..and how the horse responds to all these changes, etc.
    It would make for an interesting book I think. To be the voice of a claiming horse and tell their story…..some claiming horse stories are quite extreme with how many times they are claimed.
    If only the horse could talk ;)

    • Lehane

      Horses don’t like change and the way in which the claiming horses are thrown around from pillar to post is disgraceful. No wonder their health deteriorates.

      • McGov

        It is valid that horses do not like change….unless of course, that is change is better :)
        Many horses adjust rapidly to change. New owners usually spoil….excitement of prospect combined with protecting investment usually leads to improvement….or the attempt to improve at least ;)
        When a horse isn’t able to race without vet work I think it’s time for retirement. Old injuries that heal and take several lengths off a horse without producing pain….my line in sand re claiming horses.

  • StrideBig

    Thank you PR. It seems like this is the only blog that I truly feel that I’m learning something while reading your articles. Especially the articles of late. Please keep the information flowing. It’s much appreciated.

    ~K

  • Snowman

    Thanks for jumping into this topic, Ray. Hopefully, you will discuss alternatives to claiming…

    • GoonrGrrl

      I wish there were more “claiming optional” races, or some other way that trainers/owners didn’t *have* to claim horses back that they love and want to keep. But I may be overly sentimental, and tbh as a relative newbie I’m not sure how that would influence the dynamic of claiming races. I look forward to the rest of the series and I second Snowman that it would be nice to hear what insiders think might work as alternatives.

      • Figless

        Old fashioned “auction” races. Reserve set prior to race, bidding AFTER the race is concluded. This would eliminate the poker aspect and I believe reduce cheating and horse abuse. Or use a Handicap system, with no claiming races, as is done in many jurisdictions overseas. But like eliminating Lasix, it must be done nationally, any jurisdiction unilaterally implementing would be committing suicide as trainers would flee for other locales.

        • Larry Ensor

          When I was living, spending a lot of time in England and Ireland they were called “Selling races”. I strongly dislike claiming races as a way to level the paying field. Bit supporter of the “class rating” system. And use Selling Races here also.

  • Shasta Sam

    EVERYONE who breeds or buys a horse at a sale or privately thinks that horse, no matter the price, will be the one to go on to glory and be a champion. The reality is that few have that ability or heart or whatever that magic sauce is. Unfortunately, not all owners or trainers are responsible and we all know the horror stories. But, increasingly, I think, owners and trainers have become more aware of their responsibility to provide a 2nd career for the vast majority of these horses that lack that “something” to guarantee a life at Old Friends. For most of us it is not just the “bottom line”. For my small racing stable, rather than just “drop” the horse and hope someone claims it from me, I make sure that horse has a good shot at finding a forever home and a 2nd career. There are no guarantees but, luckily, there are now a number of wonderful aftercare organizations to help us do the right thing for these wonderful horses.

    • Larry Ensor

      “EVERYONE who breeds or buys a horse at a sale or privately thinks that horse, no matter the price, will be the one to go on to glory and be a champion”

      No snark intended, but please lets not be silly.

      If there are that many people out there with that mindset. I have a 3 legged horse that would be perfect for those Handicap races.

      • Snowman

        C’mon, Larry you’ve been in this business a long time. Have you ever met a breeder or pinhooker who took a horse to sale and told a perspective buyer that the horse will be nothing but a claimer? Its just the opposite. Industry insiders are always trying to sell the sizzle dream of every horse running for glory to each prospective owner. Unfortunately, that’s the way this business works in its current form. Hiding the truths and realities of the business and selling the dream is the only way the sport can get people in. Every newbie to the sport should be advised to buy knee high boots and put locks on their pockets as everyone is grabbing for your cash and the BS flows deep!

        • Todays_Tom_Sawyer

          You are so right, Snowman. The ONLY thing I did right when I got into this business was prepare financially. I was blessed that through research, I found a trainer who has integrity. We have suffered together through some difficult times, and have shared some very exciting moments. I think the claiming business has a spot, and if worked right, can be both exciting and occassionaly profitable. With my trainer being an old school horseman, he can tell me what is important for me to hear. And he knows he can shoot straight with me without worry. I go by the old saying that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Same holds true for selling the sizzle on these colts and fillies…reality is that NOBODY knows if they will perform to expectations. That is one of the most exciting parts of this business. And I love the claiming business because it gives you the opportunity to evaluate based on past performance. Only thing we are missing is a filter to get rid of the pond scum on the backside.

  • SteveTG

    The same thing can be said for every level of racing: take away the “x” number of human bad actors who corrupt it & we end up with a sport we no longer have to make excuses for. A level playing field upon which the horses compete & a level playing field for the bettors. Plus, horses cared for properly during & after their careers which makes the sport palatable to potential fans & horse lovers who turn away now because some animals are being abused & it doesn’t matter how many. Set the bar high & don’t allow anyone to slither under it. Should be do-able if there was a collective will to do it!

    • Joel Schiff

      Excellent post, SteveTG. I heartily agree !

  • Paul Braus

    Great topic — PR has the proper insight to do it justice.

  • Michael Castellano

    I look at the claiming business a bit differently. It exists because many horses do not live up to expectations or are not fully sound, and likely will never earn anything close to what they cost. So they are “sold” in claiming races at a level consistent with their ability. Only horses near the top levels escape claiming races. I remember one of the most beautiful horses I ever saw, raced in numerous MSWs and was finally dropped eventually into claiming in the 60s as a 4 or 5 year old, and finished last in most of his many races. He was royally bred — I think by Bold Ruler, forgot the dam, and the owners paid a fortune for him. He was apparently sound, as he raced often, just slow. He was finally claimed for almost nothing, probably because of the breeding potential.

  • Dave Stevenson

    Claiming races are a creation not a happening! We have distorted the claiming connotation to the point where we have “champions” carrying the connotation in their past performances.
    ie- starter allowance & optional claiming. Ridiculous! Not good for global pedigree.

  • HowardRoark314

    The fact that money is involved skews perceptions a bit: claiming horses are just the minor leaguers to baseball, D league to basketball, semi-pro to football, etc. Left unsaid, speaking of money, is that without claimers breeders would be forced into stallion crops of about 40 per year – if 65% of our racing was to go away. And yet…95% of those horses would be of claiming quality too. Ironic.

    • Concerned Observer

      You are so right. Claimers are not cripples any more than minor league baseball players are cripples. these horses are just not as talented. And for every derby horse there are hundreds of similar breeding that can only compete are a much lower level.

  • bocapunter

    Claiming races. The essence of handicapping.

  • cool c note

    Claimers are some of the toughest racehorses out there. If a horse runs in only claimers but wins 10 races over the course of years on the track – that’s a racehorse, period. They may not be as talented as others running at higher levels, but they’re honest and gritty and always give it their all. I’ll take that kinda horse any day. And yes, racing is backwards. The rich pay ridiculous amounts of money for young horses just on hope. Just because they paid that price doesn’t mean that the horse was actually worth it. So many of those horses will never race. If they do, many of them couldn’t out sprint my grandmother. They turn out to be pampered, spoiled nothings without an ounce of talent. On the other hand, once a horse proves itself on the track by being tough, giving it’s all and winning 10 claiming races, well, they’re not really worth much of anything. They accomplished what they were bred for – to win – but a lot of them will end up in auctions when they are actually the ones who earned a good retirement. A racehorse doesn’t know what condition of race they’re running in – they just win. These old tough horses deserve more respect – and they almost always turn out to be the same way in a new career – honest, smart, giving it their all.

  • dennis mcgarry

    From a wagering perspective, it would be a benefit to have information before actual post time as to which horses in a particular race have claims in on them. Currently, the only people that are privy to this information are “insiders”. Let’s level the playing field and disseminate this info to the betting public

  • ishy111

    Without a doubt claiming races support racing in general in the US. They are much more than the backbone – they are racing itself at many tracks. Just think of the economic impact they have in so many areas. Without them, virtually none of the behind the scenes people would have jobs. How can you run a stable with 3 horses running 5 times a year? Sure, that might support 1 trainer and 1 groom but say good bye to a true breeding program and say hello to having 6 tracks in the entire country where all the races will be called “allowance” or stakes but truly the majority will be filled with “claimers” by another name.

    I have owned more than 400 claiming horses over 40+ years. Some have gone on to win stakes but the majority race within 25% – up or down – of where we claimed them. My trainers are outstanding people who give them great care. No bad tests, we win 15-20% of the time, barely break even…but every now one will do something to re-inspire us and we come back for more the following year. Without claimers we could not afford to race. it is that simple.

    What is really needed are better rules on claiming in general. For example:
    1. How ridiculous is it for everyone in racing to say that the claiming races are intended to put the properly valued horses in against their equals for multiple reasons – and then many jurisdictions make you RAISE the horse 25% in value for the next 30 days thereby forcing you to run it potentially over their heads in a much more stressful situation! You buy a horse with almost no information then someone else tells you where to run them.
    2. Why not make vet records available on horses that are claimed? What are people hiding?

    I am sure there are many more ways we can improve the claiming process and thereby improve racing in general. I would like to hear other’s practical thoughts on the process itself. But eliminating claimers isn’t the answer.

    • StrideBig

      I hope one day, the vet records will follow eac individual horse up and until retirement. ~K

      • Lehane

        Agree. Every racehorse should have his/her own medical passport, it should be mandatory.

    • Backstretch

      As a bettor I fully endorse the jail house rule. I made my living betting horses for almost 60 yrs. and I think that these so called super trainers are ruining racing. After all, a bettor can’t make money with a steady diet of odds on horses. These trainers claim a horse for 10,000 and 2 weeks later drop it in for 5,000. The racino tracks with their high purses make this profitable for trainers with deep pockets. The purses are such that the trainer claims a horse for 10,000 and drops it in for 5,000, wins the race and collects more than the 5,000 and if the horse is claimed the trainer still makes money in addition to the bet that was probably collected.
      Sure, trainers love small fields with big purses but that doesn’t do a damn thing to help the bettor or the track. Seems like what is good for the trainers is bad for the bettors and therefore bad for racing in general.

      • Concerned Observer

        Sadly, he sport has almost no appreciation for the folks that fund the sport…the bettors.

  • FastBernieB

    Some of the best final furlongs I’ve witnessed over the years involved gutsy old knockers running for a cheap tag who fought head to head with all they had, every step to the wire. In many cases, far more noble than some of the high priced chicken hearted types that don’t pan out. As a fan – gotta love the claimers, the backbone of the industry.

    • Concerned Observer

      I bet if you took away the “race type and conditions” listed in the program and just watched the race…..claimers put on many of the most exciting races. The bettors must think so too, because claiming races generally have enough handle to cover the purse and the tracks share…t.he same can not be said for many stakes races where the handle creates a loss for the track and the purse account.

  • Downtonian

    I am going to read every word of this series because i really only knew the very basics – all horses run for the same price, trainers and owners don’t know if they’ve been claimed or not until after the race, and the majority of races and racehorses here ARE claimers. I’ve already learned that the USA is the only place where this is common – had no idea! Thank you PR for the education.

    • The kink with other countries not having claiming races is that it’s nearly impossible for most horses to win. Even for minor events, someone will show up with a lightly raced or maiden animal and scoop the purse. Good for a tiny subset of trainers but the end of the game for most, at least financially. The bright side of racing claimers is that it offers a large swathe of horses an opportunity to race competitively.

  • Leslie Navarro

    This is so true. Without claiming horses, especially the lower level claimers, you would not have Horseracing. They are the foundation of Horseracing.

    • Lehane

      If the brutal system of claiming races is necessary to keep horseracing going, then it doesn’t say much for Horseracing in America.

  • Brian Taylor

    Great Idea for a series.Looking forward to future articles.

  • Geri

    Thanks for the article, but claiming still is a car wreck, even though the lemon law helps here. If the card is mostly claimers, I won’t go to the races, won’t invite friends, and probably won’t watch– too much chance of a breakdown. Horses I knew personally that broke down– broke down when claimed by other trainers.

    Keeps the business going, but going on a downhill trend.

    • Lehane

      Exactly.

  • Lehane

    Not in the least bit surprised with Dr Tim Parkin’s findings on the claiming horses. Internationally, America has a bad reputation for its racehorse breakdowns and deaths.

  • Michael Castellano

    I had a favorite claiming horse many years ago named Lord Birchfield, raced from $3500 to 10,000 claiming when I followed him. He was a game front runner and was a bright gray, almost white. Won for me the same day as the Champagne in 66. And many more times. He was every bit a champion in his own company. Claiming horses are the blue collar foundation of racing, and their races do as much to support the sport as the Kentucky Derby.

  • TRUTH SPEAKER

    Without the claim game most American trainers would be working at a drive-thru. This part of American racing is why trainers often say that race medications are needed. In the opening portion of this article it says that the claiming industry is for horses who are not talented enough.well if they’re not talented enough they shouldn’t be running. Talent is everything. If a horse is pumped full of drugs goes out and gives it’s best but it’s simply doesn’t have the talent to be the best it can possibly be then what’s the purpose ? The claiming portion of American racing sounds like a con job to me.

  • Tony Pies

    The best at the claiming game… O.S.B. Sr. the one he claim for 25k then ran in 750k stake … And Jimmy the Greek chasing Oscar around the horse asking him his secret.
    Comedy Gold

  • talkingman17

    Sid Attard, KING of claiming, should have been interviewed. He’s made MILLIONS claiming off guys like Stronach and Sam-Son Farms. eg. Sky Diamond and others.

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