The New York Racing Association's Claiming Championship series returns for the fifth year on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack with 10 stakes worth $620,000.
The Claiming Championship is open to horses which have started for a claiming price in 2018 or 2019. The 10-race race series, named after some of the most popular claiming horses to run at the Big A, features races at distances from six furlongs to 1 3/8 miles.
“It's exciting and I think a lot of people, including myself, have purchased and/or claimed horses with the idea that this is something to look forward to,” trainer Linda Rice said.
Added trainer Jeremiah Englehart, who will be competing in the Claiming Championship for the fifth year:”The Claiming Championship is a phenomenal for owners and trainers. It gives people the ability to run their horses in starter stakes without the worry of concern of being claimed which is more likely to happen as they move up. I'm a supporter of it and I think NYRA has done a good job in improving it yearly.”
Headlining the card is the $80,000 Caixa Eletronica in the day's 10th-race finale, featuring a field of 12 4-year-olds and up going seven furlongs.
Rice will saddle a pair of contenders in All In The Family Racing's Bavaro, who ran third last out in the Grade 3 Tom Fool Handicap on March 9 after winning over the same Aqueduct track in the Hollie Hughes on February 18. His stablemate, American Power, owned by Rice and Stephen Cooper, is making his stakes debut in his 13 start, having gone 1-3-2 in his last six starts.
“They are both doing very well,” Rice said. “I thought they might be good entries with Bavaro being the speed on the front end and American Power as a closer, so I think they'll be a suitable pair.”
Rounding out the field is Mr. Dougie Fresh, a winner of two of his last three starts, for trainer Jason Servis, as well as Hoffenheim; Candid Desire; G Zap; Coltandmississippi, who finished third in the 2018 Grade 2 Penn Mile; Have Another; and the Rudy Rodriguez-trained Still Krz and Sudden Surprise. Mr. Brix and Rockinn On Bye, both trained by Claudio Gonzalez, are also entered.
Longtime NYRA fixture Turco Bravo has won once and finished second twice in three starts in his 10-year-old campaign and will be making his 77th career start as part of a 10-horse field of 4-year-olds and up going 1 3/8 miles in the $75,000 Stud Muffin in Race 9.
Shalako, who ran third in the Bernardini at 1 5/16 miles on March 2 for trainer Michelle Nevin, will look to pick up her second career win at Aqueduct. Rounding out the field is Glencairn; Cause I'm Alex; Dynamax Prime; Let Me Go First; Colonel Juan; Devine Dental; Ro Bear; and Broadway Bay.
Lady Vicki will look to bounce back off a 10th-place finish in the Grade 3 Barbara Fritchie on February 16 at Laurel Park in the $75,000 Xtra Heat in Race 7. She had won four of her last five starts before that effort, with the Lacey Gaudet trainee ending her 3-year-old campaign with a second-place finish on December 30.
Challenging Lady Vicki in the fifth running of the Xtra Heat is Wildcat Belle; Gypsy Janie; Lady by Choice; No Deal; Mo Flash; Hay Field; Clairvoyant Lady; and Oxhilirating.
Eight older horses will compete in the $70,000 Peeping Tom going 6 ½ furlongs in Race 4. Bon Raison, trained by Carlos Martin, will look to capitalize on class relief after running sixth in the Grade 3 Tom Fool. The 4-year-old Raison d'Etat colt will be making his eighth consecutive Aqueduct start.
Other contenders include Win With Pride; Deep Sea; Formal Start; Lazarus Project; I'm an Ocala Dude; Aristocratic; and Manifest Destiny.
A full field of 11 will compete in the $60,000 The More To Tell in Race 8, with Rodriguez training Haul Anchor, Daddy D T and Potomac. Other contenders include King Koa, No Distortion, Vicar's Legend; Felix in Fabula, Holy Week, Candy Promises, Dattt Melody and Fiery Opal.
Kicking off the day's action is the inaugural running of the $45,000 Belle Gallantey for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up going seven furlongs. Headlining the six-horse field is Not About the Nail for owner Danny Chen and trainer Eddie Barker. The 7-year-old New York-bred daughter of Afleet Express was claimed by his current connections following a victory on February 9 and returned to win by 2 ¼ lengths on March 10.
Trainer Chris Englehart enters Stella B. The 4-year-old mare will make her first start for her new connections cutting back in distance following a victory last out in a claiming race on January 1 at Parx at 1 1/16 miles. Rounding out the field is Flashndynamite; Ola Gatita; Hashtag Selife; and To the Flag.
Its All Relevant will look to win his third consecutive race making in making his first start for Rodriguez as part of a field of nine 4-year-olds and up at seven furlongs in the first running of the $45,000 Dads Caps. Its All Relevant has four wins in his last five starts, including a 3 ¾-length score at a mile on March 2.
Watch My Dust will be shipping in from Laurel. The 6-year-old gelding son of Majestic Warrior enters off an allowance win at one mile at the track on March 9 at the Maryland track. Trainer Rob Atras enters Samadi Sky, a 6-year-old Sky Mesa gelding who bested a field on seven on February 17 last out.
Also entered is Whateveryouwant; Colonel Canuck; Big Thicket; Runabout; Orpheus; and Hamptons Holiday.
The fifth running of the $55,000 Kelly Kip for 4-year-olds and up at six furlongs will feature a field of 10.
Trainer Bobby Barbara will saddle Malibu Action for Eleven Stars Racing Stable, who claimed the 6-year-old Malibu Moon gelding following an impressive 6 ¼ length score on March 22 at the Big A.
Leading the challenge to deny Malibu Moon his third consecutive win at Aqueduct is H Man. A 7-year-old Musket Man gelding, H Man will look to regroup from a third-place finish in an New York-bred claiming race on March 1 at Aqueduct.
Rodriguez entered Professor Snape and Truly a Moon Shot. Other entries include Sol the Freud; Missile Bomb; O Shea Can U See; H Man; Will Did; and Two Putt and Trusting Friend for Gonzalez.
The $55,000 Videogenic for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up at six furlongs, carded as Race 2, will see a field of seven headlined by Summer Punch.
The 5-year-old Candy Ride mare trained by Barbara has two wins from three starts this year along with one third-place finish. Start Wilburn returns following a third-place allowance win on February 28. Also entered is Elizabeth Nicole; Miss Jak; Timely Tradition; Bow Town Cat; and Archumybaby.
Trainer Jeremiah Englehart will enter Elegant Jem for Grand Crue Farm in the fifth running of the $60,000 Sis City for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up at one mile in Race 5.
Elegant Jem, a 5-year-old Spring At Last mare, won her last start; an optional-claiming race on February 18 at Aqueduct by 3 ½ lengths.
“She's really come out of that race well and we know it's a touch race, but we think she fits and would like to see how she'll perform,” Englehart said.
Honey Graeme is set to make her first start off the claim for her new connections following a win on March 8; Sarah's Treasure, shipping in from Laurel Park; Daria's Angel, who will be looking to improve off a second-place allowance finish on March 1; Overheated; Mia Bella Rossa; Miss Loyalty; Promise Me Roses; and Dancingwthdaffodls.
First post time for Saturday at Aqueduct is 1:30 p.m.
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