Gulfstream Park hosts the 15th Claiming Crown on Saturday, with eight stakes races for claiming horses with $1 million in purses up for grabs.
Ninety horses were entered in the eight races, giving horseplayers a solid betting card that features a 10-cent Ultimate 8 with a guaranteed pool of $100,000 along with a mandatory payout.
Owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey will send out five runners over the eight races, but it will be tough to top last year’s Claiming Crown for the frontrunners for this year’s Eclipse Award for top owner.
The Ramsey’s won four of the seven Claiming Crown races last year and missed winning a fifth in a photo.
The Claiming Crown races start with the third race, the $110,000 Iron Lady with a post time of 12:40 eastern.
The marquee event of the day is the $200,000 Jewel, which brings together a field of 10 runners three year olds and upward which have started for a claiming price of $35,000 or less since Jan. 1 of 2012.
The Ramseys will send out the 5-2 morning line favorite Bernie the Maestro, who will be saddled by trainer Mike Maker, the all-time leader in Claiming Crown victories with 11.
The gelding won last year’s Claiming Crown Rapid Transit at seven furlongs and will try nine furlongs for the first time in his 55-race career.
One of the toughest races for handicappers to solve will be the $125,000 Emerald, which drew an overflowing field of 14 along with a pair of also-eligibles going 1 1/16 miles on turf.
The Ramseys and Maker will send out Major Marvel (3-1), who ran a game second in the race last year, beaten just a head to Nikki’s Sandcastle.
Ribo Bobo is one to watch in the $110,000 Express. The Jason Servis trainee had a nine-race winning streak snapped in his last outing at Penn, beaten by Ben’s Cat.
I will have selections for all of the Claiming Crown races in Saturday’s Best Plays Report.
Let’s head out to Gulfstream Park for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Gulfstream Park Race 10 The Claiming Crown Jewel (Post time 5:03 ET)
1 Nevada Kid 5-1
7 Bernie the Maestro 5-2
2 Dominant Jeannes 6-1
8 Voodoo Storm 3-1
Nevada Kid ships in from New York for the Nick Zito barn where the colt was bumped coming out of the gate, was sent up to set the early fractions and could not match strides late with the winner in a runner up finish. The colt caught a racing strip that day at the Big A that was playing to outside stalkers and closers. The colt put in a decent effort in a runner up finish in the slop three back at Saratoga in his one go at nine furlongs and he does have a win over the surface, beating $30,000 non-winners of two last December. The colt should be forwardly placed breaking from the inside and may end up getting overlooked on the tote here.
Bernie the Maestro is coming into this race off a win in the Schaeffer Memorial at Indiana Downs in the slop. The gelding won here in the Claiming Crown last year, taking the seven-furlong Rapid Transit. He has won three of his seven starts over the main track but has not raced at nine furlongs on the main track in his career. The gelding has run well fresh and is coming back off a two-month break here for the Mike Maker barn that leads all trainers with 11 Claiming Crown wins.
Dominant Jeannes is making just his fourth start since running a game second in this race last year at 10-1. Last out the colt as coming back off a 7 ½ month layoff, was off a beat slow and made a mild late rally to finish third against Alw-3 optional claimers at Philly going five furlongs in the slop. This guy is bred to handle nine furlongs and figures to move forward off the stretch out and the prospect of a fast track as he has not been his best on off tracks. The Servis barn is 27% winners (with a +ROI) moving runners from sprint to route.
WIN: Nevada Kid to win at 4-1 or better.
EXACTA: 1,7 / 1,2,7,8
TRIFECTA: 1,7 / 1,2,7,8 / 1,2,3,7,8