Truly a Judge is a Jewel in Claiming Crown

In his first start in the East in more than two years, Ailshie & Aidekman's Truly a Judge shipped from California and ran away with the $150,000 Jewel, the last and richest race of the six Claiming Crown Championship events at Philadelphia Park Aug. 31.

Trained by David Bernstein, who'd formerly conditioned graded stakes winner The Wicked North, Truly a Judge was never far back under Jose Valdivia and took the Jewel by 5 1/4 lengths over eight seasoned competitors in 1:50.39 for 1 1/8 miles. Delaware Park-based Quiet Mike, who was unprepared for the break, was second, while Louisiana Downs invader Prince Iroquois was third.

Bernstein, who claimed Truly a Judge for $20,000 last December, said the colt had trained beautifully at Philadelphia since his arrival Aug. 28, one day late due to his original flight developing mechanical problems.

"The track was a little on the deep side, but he liked it and he looked like he was just galloping out there," Bernstein said after the 4-year-old son of Judge T C posted his seventh victory from 21 lifetime starts.

Favorites won four of the six Claiming Crown events, worth a total of $550,000, while only two of the six were won by Philadelphia Park-based horses. It was the first year the Bensalem, Pa. track hosted the event, which is dubbed the "Breeders' Cup for claiming horses." In all, 53 horses were entered, 10 less than competed at Canterbury Park in Minnesota in 2001.

While Philadelphia does not report attendance, total handle for the 11-race card was better than $2 million.

The Claiming Crown is scheduled to return to Canterbury next year, and a new host track will be selected for 2004.

In other Claiming Crown results:

* Trainer Scott Lake notched his sixth victory in three years and jockey Jose Flores tallied his fourth when Blue Bayou Stable's (Scott Lake & Brad Rowe) Ruskin, a 9-year-old son of Lac Ouimet, took the $50,000 Iron Horse at 1 1/16 miles as the 3-5 choice. It was the 20th victory from 62 starts for Ruskin, who has only been off the board once in 13 starts this year. He was timed in 1:45.37.

* Geloso & Tomillo Jr.'s Talknow, a razor-sharp Arlington Park invader, waltzed away with the $50,000 Express at six furlongs under Elvis Truillo, timed in 1:09.29 as the favorite. "He just keeps getting better and better," trainer Tom Tomillo said of the winner of 13 of 28 starts lifetime.

* Bada Bing Stable's Won Moro posted a mild upset at 4-1 when she took the $75,000 Glass Slipper for fillies and mares at 6 1/2 furlongs. Trained by Bob Klesaris, she was ridden by Gerald Melancon and was timed in 1:17.01. Her last victory came for a $35,000 tag in New York in March.

* The decision to enter Robert Amendola's Risen Warrior in the $100,000 Rapid Transit wasn't made by trainer Jose Gallegos until the morning of the race, but it proved the right one as the 6-year-old son of Lost Code took the 6 1/2-furlong test under Stewart Elliott, who posted four victories on the card. The time was 1:16.10.

* The Kiaran McLaughlin owned and trained Nowrass, who'd competed in Dubai and New York the last two years, easily took the $125,000 Emerald at 1 1/16 miles on a "good" turf course over locally based Grade One. Nowrass was piloted by Jose Valdivia, which gave him a Claiming Crown double. Nowrass was clocked in 1:46.66.

(Chart, Equibase)