Headache charged home late to capture the $138,000 Claiming Crown Jewel at Canterbury Park July 24, giving owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey, trainer Mike Maker, and jockey Julien Leparoux back-to-back wins of the two main events in the annual series for racing's blue-collar workers.
About a half-hour earlier, Leparoux guided the Ramseys' Inca King to a 1 1/4-length triumph in the $94,000 Claiming Crown Emerald as the 1-2 favorite on the Canterbury turf.
The other multiple winner on the six-race Claiming Crown program was jockey Israel Ocampo, who won twice with Moralist, the 9-10 choice in the $46,500 Claiming Crown Express and My Irish Girl, the 19-10 favorite in the $70,500 Claiming Crown Glass Slipper.
In the 1 1/8-mile Jewel, Headache rallied from fifth in the compact six-horse field in the lane to collar pacesetter Smarten Destiny in the final strides to win by a neck. Headache, who was blocked into the stretch and was forced to alter course to the outside under left-handed urging from Leparoux, won with something left in a final time of 1:50.11 over a fast track.
“He’s the kind of horse you have to wait with and then go, and that’s what he did today," said the 2009 Eclipse Award-winning Leparoux. “It’s a lot of fun.”
Smarten Destiny, ridden by Eddie Martin Jr., took second by one length over Strike Impact and Shane Sellers.
Favored Racing Bran (7-5) faded in the stretch to finish fifth after pressing Smarten Destiny through quarter-mile fractions of :23.87, :48.06, and 1:11.81. For All Who Conga finished fourth while My Friend Nev trailed.
Headache, the second choice in the field at odds of 9-5, ended a seven-race losing streak with his first stakes win. The 4-year-old son of Tapit --Pamric, by Woodman, was bred by Dr. J.K. and Linda Griggs, and was purchased for $75,000 as a yearling at Fasig-Tipton's July 2007 Kentucky sale.
The gray/roan colt was claimed by Maker for the Ramseys at Belmont Park last Sept. 30 for $25,000. He improved his career record to 5-5-2 in 18 starts with earnings of $217,955 with the winning purse of $82,500.
“I love this horse,” said Ken Ramsey, “but he had given me plenty of headaches running second, second, second so many times. Today Julien got him home, though.”
Headache, coming off a second-place finish in an allowance race at Churchill Downs July 2, carried 122 pounds and paid $5.60, $3.60 and $3.60 while topping a $50 exacta. Smarten Destiny returned $8.80 and $10.20. Strike Impact was $7.20 to show.
A race earlier, the Ramseys' Inca King dominated 10 rivals in the Emerald while completing the 1 1/16-mile turf test in 1:42.80 over good going. Defending Emerald winner Gran Estreno, the likely second choice, was scratched by stewards.
Inca King ($3) tracked pacesetters Carson's Honor and Prairie Fox (:23.27, :47.06, 1:11.28) from the rail in fourth before Leparoux angled the 6-year-old Sir Cat gelding three wide into the stretch. With clear sailing, Inca King swept past Tiger Lake and Shane Laviolette inside the final furlong to win under moderate encouragement. Tiger Lake nosed the fast-closing Elusive Schemes, ridden by Gallyn Mitchell for second.
They made us work for it,” said Kenneth Ramsey. “That Julien is something else. It’s quite an honor to win up here at Canterbury.”
The winner, claimed by Maker for $40,000 at Churchill Downs last November, carried top weight of 124 pounds to his sixth win in seven starts in 2010. He was coming off a third-place finish in a game effort in the one-mile Firecracker Handicap (gr. IIT) at Churchill July 4. Overall, Inca King, who is out of the Prized mare Inca Prize, has won 16 of 34 starts with earnings of $804,113.
Maker has now won seven Claiming Crown races in the past four years.
Elsewhere on the Claiming Crown card, Humble Smarty ($7), ridden by Alex Birzer for owner/trainer Brett Creighton, took the $70,500 Rapid Transit by three-quarters of a length over Red Pete in a time of 1:09.57 for the six furlongs. Max Ahead was third with 2-1 favorite Sweeten With Gold fourth.
Humble Smarty, a 6-year-old gelding by Mutakddim--Humble Danzig, by Zignew, dueled on the lead with Max Ahead into the stretch, inching ahead while drifting out late. Bred in Arkansas by James E. Danaher, the chestnut won for the 11th time in 46 starts and boosted his earnings to $235,522.
In the Glass Slipper, My Irish Girl ($5.80) rallied from well back for Ocampo to score by 1 1/2 lengths over Margie Marie in a time of 1:09.92 for the six furlongs. Jamie Ness trains the winning 3-year-old Florida-bred daughter of Closing Argument --Rich Asserton, by Rizzi, for Midwest Thoroughbreds.
Moralist ($3.80) outlasted Thegreatcrosby by one length in a time of 1:09.92 for six furlongs. Ocampo rode the 5-year-old gelding by Talk Is Money--Vitsa Eteran, by Risen Star, for owner Miracle Logistics and trainer Tammy Domenosky.
Roaring Home ($8.60), ridden by Daniel Centeno, kicked off the Claiming Crown with a three-quarters of a length win over 2-5 choice Sea Gaze in the $46,000 Iron Horse, completing the 1 1/16-mile distance in 1:43.79. Chris Richard trains the 7-year-old gelding by Roar--Parioli's Gift, by Relauch, for owner Maggi Moss.