Last Weekend at Hawthorne

We will be taking one last look in Chicago this weekend as the Hawthorne meet comes to a close. We may even look a bit higher than our $10,000 budget per horse and start with one for now and then go ahead and claim another at Canterbury once we have a race or two under our belt.

We have scoured CA but finding something in our price range plus shipping, plus a 10% commission for the agent has made it a bit difficult. In looking at other locations: Florida, Ohio, Kentucky we have licensing issues. Not issues, per se, but the requirement to be licensed prior to claiming which would have amounted to 100s of dollars with no guarantee of finding the horse we want. Also, the further afield that we go, the less input we have from Clay which I do not like. I want him to have as much input as possible on a horse that he will be training.

If we do not get anything this weekend, we will come out swinging when the meet starts here at home.

Choices are Improving…Slowly

It looks as if the choices are starting to improve at Hawthorne with the influx of horses from Fairgrounds. The exodus from Oaklawn has begun as well, so we are hoping that there will be some options to go after over the next few weekends. Arlington opens on May 1 and we’ll also be looking there should there prove to be nothing worth reaching out to take in the next few weeks.

We’ve looked briefly at a few but have rejected them quickly. Clay’s philosophy, and I agree, is that we don’t want to get something just to get something and then be sorry that we did.

So we continue looking and soldier on.


No. We haven’t claimed anything yet. Admittedly this part of the experience, waiting for the horse, is rather boring. I figured I’d take the opportunity to outline for folks the claiming process and reiterate some of what we are looking for.

Claiming a horse is relatively straightforward, but there are specific rules that govern the process.

First, you pick out the horse you want to buy. Clay and I sort through Past Performances and check on possible targets. For the Club, we’re looking at a horse from about $5000 – $10,000, a horse that has shown some consistency over a moderate (20 or so) number of starts and one that is perhaps coming from a barn that may not be as accomplished as Clay’s. In other words, something that Clay can improve upon with his training regimen. For example, one year we claimed a horse named Ask Eddy who came from a barn where he had lost weight and didn’t receive property nutrition. Clay went ahead and laid him off for a few weeks, changed his feed, de-wormed him and then got him ready to race. He won the first time for us and then won twice more. We’d like something solid that can run every 3 or 4 weeks for us. He may not shoot up the class ladder but would be good for teaching us a bit about racing.

Second, you check the horse out in person. You can’t really walk up to a barn and say, “Hey, I’m going to claim your horse tomorrow, can I have my vet check him out?” but you do want some degree of comfort because, in most jurisdictions, claiming is the epitome of “buyer beware” because once you own the horse, you inherit everything that may be wrong with him.

So Clay takes a close look at the horse as it walks over for it’s race and his behavior in the paddock. If he sees signs of a physical ailment (sore, crooked leg, etc) that could be an indicator of future issues, we pass. If he likes what he sees, we move onto step 3.

Third, you fill out the claim slip EXACTLY and then drop it in the claim box in the racing office or the bookkeeper’s office depending on the racetrack. Any error and the claim is voided. For example, one claim slip was filled out at Keeneland Race Course but on the “track” line, the trainer wrote in “Keenland” rather than “Keeneland”. The missing “e” cost them the horse.

The claim box is locked and the claim slips time stamped. Various tracks have different deadlines to have the claim slip in: 5 minutes to post, post time, etc. When the gates open, the claim box is open and, if you have the only claim in on a horse, it’s yours from that moment forward. Should the horse pick up a check in that race, it goes to the old owners, but should the horse suffer an injury – or worse – in the race, the horse belongs to the new owners. New York and California have rules to protect new owners against catastrophic injury, but very few other jurisdictions. When the horse comes back after the race, a track employee is there with a tag that is snapped onto the bridle and the horse heads off to the new barn.

Should there be more than one claim on a horse, a “shake” is instituted. In a case like this, each claim slip is given a number which corresponds to a number on a small pill/ball. The pills are placed in a bottle, shaken and tipped. The number of the claim slip that corresponds to the first pill out of the bottle wins the horse.

In a rather long nutshell, that is the process of claiming a horse.


We’re at Hawthorne and have touched base with the licensing folks and we’ll be ready to go next week. Additionally Clay and I have spoken about what we’re looking for and I told him “A couple like last year, just a little better!”

Seriously, though, we are looking for a couple of horses between $5000 and $10,000 that have shown some consistency and durability. If we happen across a solid MN-bred, more the better.

Now we’re on the lookout and with racing moving to 3-days a week in Chicago shortly and the barns filling up, our next runner is out there somewhere!

Close for 2015

We are very close to launching the 2015 edition of the Canterbury Racing Club. We are just waiting for a few folks who have indicated that they are returning or are in but the check and paperwork has not yet arrived. I would anticipate that would be done sometime this week and I will finalize our licensing, transfer some money to Hawthorne and we can start shopping. I know that Clay already has his eye open but, as we’ve seen, it can sometimes take a while to find the horse or horses we want.

It looks as though we are going to close right around the 150 member mark this year. This will be less than last year but right about where we were 2 years ago. Some of the drop off is no doubt the migration of some folks to the Canterbury Alumni Group as well as some normal attrition.

We will also have nearly 30 new members this year and to you all I say “welcome”. Please remember that this is a learning experience and no question is a bad question. That’s why we’re here. Hopefully we’ll win some races along the way while we peel back the curtain a bit on the Thoroughbred industry.

Countdown to the New Club Season; Esquivel Injured

We’ve got about 10-days left to get the rollover forms in place if you are rejoining as well as the sign up form if you’re a new member. Right now we’re running behind last year’s record breaking numbers – mostly because most of the 34 folks who chose to join the “intermediate” Alumni Group decided to not rejoin the Club this year (though they are certainly free to do so!) – so there looks to be more opportunity to get into the paddock as fewer members means fewer paddock groups and more repeat trips! However it may also mean that we start with one horse instead of two and “grow” into more if we can win a few early. I’ve attached the forms below for your convenience.

Mary Rampinelli of the Daily Racing Form is reporting that Manny Esquivel, regular Hawthorne pilot for MARYJEAN and TERICE as well as author of our five consecutive wins to end the season, was thrown from his mount in the first turn of the first race at Oaklawn today. He was placed on a backboard and was transported to a local hospital. There is no indication of how badly Manny is hurt and the backboard may have just been a precaution, but any thoughts and prayers you can send his way I’m sure would be appreciated. When I get more of an update, I will post it. Speedy recovery, Manny!

2015 Horse_ Ownership_Club_Membership_Agreement

ROLL OVER 2015 Horse_ Ownership_Club_Membership_Agreement2015 Horse_ Ownership_Club_Membership_Agreement

2015 Racing Club

If you’ve been a member in the past you already know this information but if you’ve been following along wondering when you would get a chance to join up – this is for you.

Members will pay $250 to join the Club. There are no additional fees and the only additional expense will be if we are fortunate enough to get into the Winners’ Circle, there will be small charge for a photo.

The Club ends at the end of 2015 or when we have sold off our horses. As an example, two years ago we closed in November because our last horse was claimed then and it made no sense to claim a horse for only a few weeks but in 2014 we raced straight into December before we had our horses claimed away.

Members get admission to Canterbury Park for the season as well as, if available, a special location to watch the races, rotating paddock access and – again, if we’re lucky – access to the Winners’ Circle. We will conduct a few backstretch tours during the season as well so we can visit the barns and get a glimpse at life on the backside.

You get to follow YOUR horse(s) during the year!

Members can only get back as much money as they put in. This is a not for profit venture and is used as an educational experience to get people familiar with all the ins and outs of race horse ownership and “pull back the curtain”, if you will, and de-mystify the game.

We’re in the midst of our “open enrollment” period, if you will. We’ll be looking to close out by February 15, 2015. Clay Brinson will once again be our trainer. Last year we had two horses, Maryjean and Terice, and between the two of them we were able to win 6 races and only finished off the board once, I believe. Not bad at all. That bar is pretty high to beat this season but we’re going to give it our best shot.

Sign up forms are at the bottom of this post. Please let us know if you have any questions!

2015 Horse_ Ownership_Club_Membership_Agreement