As a matter of course, racetrack press releases are some pretty mundane stuff. A big race advance here, an upcoming event there, or straight-up promotional copy that companies should be paying for, everywhere else.
The one we received today from the Gulfstream Park press office was a category two; notice of an upcoming event that is one of the biggest wagering days on the Championship Meet calendar, Claiming Crown Saturday.
On December 7, nine stakes races for horses that have run for a claiming tag within the past year, including two 2018 winners, Rocket Heat and Salsa’s Return that will seek to defend their titles and 14 nominations from Claiming Crown leading trainer Mike Maker are all of interest to bettors and fans.
Lest anyone forget, the event was created 20 years ago by the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and was staged at young Canterbury Park. The Claiming Crown put Shakopee, MN in racing’s bright lights.
It has grown in stature and financial support since moving to South Florida, to the tune of $1.11 million in purses. Selling platers just don’t get to a run for that kind of money every day, even if it takes nine races to do it.
So what’s the big wow? How about the fact that the 2019 Jim Dandy and Haskell winners are eligible for this claiming event. Now that doesn’t happen every day, either.
It’s a little strange that I can recall Tax running for a claiming tag before he became a serious classics aspirant last winter at Aqueduct.
But the Kentucky Derby first and Haskell winner who then missed races and skipped workouts, only to be followed by an impressive win spotting weight to older graded rivals weight?
I didn’t give a thought to Maximum Security, the most famous $16,000 maiden of them all, ever being eligible to the Claiming Crown. Stunning to consider, really.
Of course, he won’t run in South Florida DEC 7 in South Florida but will race that day at Aqueduct. He will be the favorite to win the Grade 1 Cigar Mile.
Then, if all goes well, finally Florida, where he’s never tasted defeat, trying to earn the lion’s share of the Pegasus World Cup Invitational purse, America’s largest, thereby concluding one of the most bizarre racing stories ever told.