This is the most common of all races. A normal card of racing at most tracks will have a couple of Maiden Races, a few Claiming Races, an Allowance Race (I’ll get to those on another post) or two, with at least one Stakes/Handicap Race. The feature race(s) of the day. On special days, (Kentucky Derby, Travers Stakes, for example) usually on weekends, the card(s) can feature upwards of 3-4 high paying Stakes Races. But back to Claiming Races. There is a stipulated price (such as $20,000) for which any horse in the race may be purchased. In essence, the owners put their horses up for sale, knowing the horses may be claimed (bought) prior to the running of the race. As soon as the bell rings and the gate springs open, a claimed horse becomes the property of the new owner. Although any purse money earned in that race goes to the previous owner. Different claiming levels provide a point of reference to different class levels, which can help in your handicapping. Looking at a horses past performances you might see that he has previously ran in a few $50,000 ‘Claimers’. Maybe it’s won them, maybe not. Regardless, today he drops down to race where every horse has only raced in $20,000 or less Claimers. Theoretically, he is dropping down in class, racing against less talented horses, and might offer some VALUE.
FYI: 1999 Kentucky Derby winner CHARISMATIC had raced in a $62,000 Claiming Race the November prior to The Derby. Fortunately for Trainer D. Wayne Lucas the horse went unclaimed. CHARISMATIC won The Derby at odds of 31-1. Lucas when asked after The Derby about entering the horse in that Claiming Race said; “Apparently I miss-judged his talent.” Ya think?