Favorites, led by Truly a Judge in the $150,000 Jewel Final, claimed four of the six division comprising the fourth Claiming Crown Championships Saturday at Philadelphia Park.
A total of $550,000 was on the line in the six races.
A field of nine battled for the headlining $150,000 Jewel Final, with Truly A Judge proving much the best.
Despite breaking from post two, the Judge T C colt was quickly moved three wide into the opening turn by winning jockey Jose Valdivia, Jr.
"In the other two dirt races I rode, I felt like the inside was a little dead," remarked Valdivia. "I wanted to get my horse to the outside and in the clear at the first opportunity. It worked out very nicely for me into that first turn."
With four furlongs to go in the 1 1/8-mile test, Truly A Judge responded with an almost effortless move toward the lead. Kept busy through the final eighth, he went on to win by five lengths, finishing out in 1:50.1.
Off as the 8-5 favorite for trainer David Bernstein, Truly A Judge paid $5.20, 3.00, and 2.20. Quiet Mike returned 5.00 and 2.80. Prince Iroquois saved ground the entire trip but was an unthreatening third and paid 2.60 to show. The winning exacta came back 34.40.
Truly A Judge is owned by Gaylord Ailshie, Alan Aidekman et al.
In the $125,000 Emerald Final, Kiaran McLaughlin's Nowrass showed his class, besting eight rivals in the Claiming Crown's lone grass race.
Contested at 1 1/16 mile over a course labeled good, the Emerald saw 11- year-old Sir Echo and front-running Stephan's Prize battle for the early lead while late -unning Nowrass, with Valdivia aboard, was content to bide his time toward the back of the pack.
Nowrass, a lightly-raced 6 year-old son of Bering, was caught three deep round both turns. He began to move steadily with a half mile remaining, took the lead turning for home, and held 12-1 shot Grade One at bay through the final furlong to win by two clear lengths. An even money favorite at post time, Nowrass paid $4.00 to win. Grade One finished second while Taylorman, a 6-1 shot, ran third. The final time was 1:46.3.
Robert Amendola's Risen Warrior came from just off the pace to win a rapidly run Rapid Transit Final and take the $60,000 winners share of the $100,000 purse.
It was hard to draw up a better trip then this was for the 6-year-old son of Lost Code. The extremely fast Go Rail Go shot to the front and cut fractions of 21.4 and 44.1. But the six-and-a-half furlong distance was a lot to ask against a field of this caliber and he finally gave way with a furlong remaining.
By that time, Risen Warrior had hit his best stride in the middle of the racetrack, took command and went on to win by better than three lengths in a final time of 1:16. Trained by Jose Gallegos and guided home by Stewart Elliott, Risen Warrior went off as the 5-2 second choice and returned $7.60 to win. Yavapai and stablemate Largeandincharge ran second and third for trainer Alfredo Velazquez.
An exciting stretch run it was in the $75,000 Glass Slipper Final. The $75,000 Glass Slipper final for fillies and mares at six-and-a-half furlongs went to Bada Bing Stable's Won Moro.
Won Moro dug in gamely against a stretch challenge from Dandy Dolce and held on to win by a half-length, stopping the timer in 1:17. Gerard Melancon was up for trainer Bob Klesaris. She returned a win mutual of $10.00, the top win payoff for this year's Claiming Crown. Dandy Dolce's big effort netted her a second place check, while Playmera, part of an entry for trainer Pat Cuccurullo, got free too late on the inside and wound up third.
In the six -furlong $50,000 Express Final, Talknow won for the seventh time this year in covering the distance in a swift 1:09.1. Owned jointly by Emilio Geloso and Tom Tomillo, Talknow was bet down to 4-5 and paid $3.80 to win under Elvis Trujillo. Danny E. ran second with Wise Sweep finishing third.
The $50,000 Iron Horse final went to Blue Bayou Stable's Ruskin, giving trainer Scott Lake a record-setting sixth Claiming Crown win. The big, long-striding, 9-year-old gelded son of Lac Ouimet opened a clear lead turning for home and went on to win by 2 1/2 lengths. Off as the heavy 4-5 favorite, Ruskin, ridden by Jose Flores, paid $3.60 to win. Regal Tour won a photo over Entrepreneurship to take second money. The final time for the 1 1/16 mile was 1:45.1.