Claiming Crown Jewel
Saturday, Aug. 2, Canterbury Park
The Low-Down: The 10th anniversary of the rich and prestigious Claiming Crown, a seven-race event with combined purses of $600,000, will be held Saturday at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minn. In order to qualify for this Breeders' Cup-type event for claimers, horses from all parts of the country had to have started at least once since January 1, 2007 for a claiming price ranging from $7,500 (or less) to $35,000 (or less). The "Crown" returns to Canterbury for eighth time in its 10-year history. It was held once at Philadelphia Park, and last year the event was contested at Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky. The richest Claiming Crown race is the $150,000 Jewel, run over nine furlongs of dirt for horses who have competed for a price tag of $35,000 or less in the last 18 months. An extremely contentious field of nine has been entered, with horses representing all parts of the country. Four of these routers have transformed from claimers into stakes horses in recent months.
Our Eyes: Trainer Scott Lake averages more than a win a day at racetracks across the East Coast, and has won more Claiming Crown races than any other conditioner, all-time. He fires a live bullet with COYOTESHIGHESTCALL, who has posted some lofty speed figures this year. He has speed, but his best work has been done from a stalking position, and with several speed-types entered (R CLEAR VICTORY, FIGHT ON and CANELA), he should enjoy an advantageous pocket trip from the inside post. WON AWESOME DUDE, a $20,000 maiden claimer 15 months ago, was actually a solid second behind the eventual Grade 1 Suburban Handicap runner-up SOLAR FLARE two races back in a third-level optional claimer at Delaware, and the 'DUDE' returned to once again grab the place spot behind the rock-solid Five Steps in the Carpenter Memorial Handicap. California invader SENSATIONAL SCORE enters this event off consecutive scores, but he's better on synthetics than dirt. STRATOSTAR loves to win, and he would run out on the parking lot if you asked him to. CATMANTOO, who is likely to fly under the radar, fights hard for every yard, and he appears on edge to fire fresh. CANELA ran a huge race in the Grade 3 Stars n' Stripes over 12 furlongs of Arlington turf last time out, but the outside post could force a wide trip on Saturday.
The Bottom Line: COYOTESHIGHESTCALL and WON AWESOME DUDE are on top of their respective games, and nine furlongs on dirt suits them both. They're tactical enough to stalk, and with an honest pace to kick at, one or the other should get the job done. Let's key that pair first and second in the exactas, while also using the longshot CATMANTOO, the late-running SENSATIONAL SCORE and the hard-trying STRATOSTAR in the place spot.
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