The Claiming Crown is a series of seven races – five on dirt and two on turf – with purses totaling $600,000. It has been called Thoroughbred racing’s day for “blue collar” horses. The series starts at 2:35 p.m. CST with the $50,000 Claiming Crown Iron Horse for 3-year-olds and up going 1 1/16 miles on the dirt, and concludes with The Jewel, a nine-furlong test for older horses who have started for a claiming price of $35,000 or less during the past year. In all, 64 horses were entered in the seven races. Last year the Claiming Crown was held at Ellis Park in Kentucky.
Coyoteshighestcall is trained Scott Lake, who has won a record eight Claiming Crown races since the event began in 1999. Bred in Florida by J.J. Coyote, Coyoteshighestcall was briefly on the Triple Crown trail as a 3-year-old in 2005, but was redirected after finishing sixth in the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III). Most of his success came after Lake claimed him for a second time in September 2007. Since that time, the dark bay horse has won eight of 15 starts on the East Coast, including a span of six consecutive victories from December 2007 to April 15 of this year, concluding with a three-length score in the Norristown Stakes at Philadelphia Park.
Coyoteshighestcall, who is 14-11-7 from 64 career starts, lost by a neck in his most recent outing, the $75,000 Brandywine Stakes at Delaware Park July 16. Kendrick Carmouche will get the return call on the 7-2 morning-line favorite.
Also with a good chance at victory in The Jewel is Coastal Racing Stable’s R Clear Victory. Steve Asmussen, currently the leading trainer by wins and earnings in the U.S., sends out the 5-year-old Victory Gallop gelding. Bred in New York, R Clear Victory has made his last six starts in state restricted stakes at either Aqueduct or Belmont. His lone victory came in the April 20 King’s Point Handicap, but there have also been three runner-up finishes. Most recently, Asmussen sent the gelding out in a turf stakes at Belmont where he finished sixth after enduring a wide trip.
Channing Hill, who rode R Clear Victory to a pair of wins last year, will get the mount.
Scarlet Stable’s Canela, third in the Stars and Stripes Turf Handicap (gr. IIIT) July 4 at Arlington Park, and 8-year-old Stratostar, who has won five times this season, could also be major players.
Immediately preceding The Jewel is the $100,000 Claiming Crown Emerald, the featured turf event of the afternoon. For 3-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles, The Emerald includes Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s New York homebred Self Made Man, a winner of two consecutive starter handicap events at Churchill Downs, and Richard Galyen’s Canard, a California-bred who won a stakes event at Turf Paradise this winter. Both 4-year-old geldings will carry a top-weight of 124 pounds.
Self Made Man, the early 2-1 favorite, is trained by Michael Maker, who won three Claiming Crown races one year ago. Maker will have five starters this year.