Choosing A Race

Now we have a horse and we know he’s doing well so it’s time to choose a race for him to run in next.  The question is: how do we decide?

The main vehicle for determining the races which will be run is the Condition Book.  The condition book is produced by the racing secretary at a race track outlining the conditions of races that will be offered at the race meet.  Each book tends to cover anywhere from 10-days to 3 weeks of races.  Here is the link to Canterbury’s first condition book:

There will be another post in a few days explaining the Condition Book further.

We bought our guy for $7500 and, generally speaking (there are certainly exceptions), what you claim is what you get, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have options.

Claiming races were developed to stratify racing so that horses of similar ability would run against each other.  An owner is not going to run a classy animal in a $5000 claiming race.  Sure, she’ll win the purse but end up losing the horse!

The strata of races is roughly the following:

Conditioned claiming – claiming price plus the added condition of non-winners of2 races, 3 races, etc.;

Starter allowances – an allowance race restricted to horses that have run for a certain claiming price or under;

Optional claimers – claiming price OR non-winners of a certain number of races;

Allowance – horses meet certain conditions but NOT eligible to be claimed

Handicap – higher level horses where weight is used to try and equalize the field.

Stakes – races for the best horses on the grounds.  Can be restricted to age, sex and location of birth.

Listed Stakes – Stakes determined by the American Graded Stakes Committee to be better than most stakes but not quite Graded Stakes Quality (Mystic Lake Derby is a Listed Stake this year);

Graded States – the best races in the United States which are further stratified as Grade I, II and III.

For Kipper Key we are looking at a Starter Allowance on Thursday, April 14.  It is for horses that have started for a claiming price of $7500 or less in one of their last 2 starts.  We could have looked at a $10,000 or $12,500 claiming race but since he’s eligible for this race and not eligible to be claimed we figured we’d target this race so we come north with a horse.  The distance is 6 furlongs with a $26,000 purse.  He came back to the races in a starter and did hit the board so he’s not out of his league.

One thing you will see is that we run to win races at the highest levels we feel our horses are competitive.  There is no sense racing to “protect” a horse from a claim.  It’s part of the business.  You run them where they belong and try to win.

The race will be drawn this Saturday so we should know Saturday afternoon if we’re in!




5 thoughts on “Choosing A Race

  1. I like the idea that K2 won’t be able to be claimed because at this point we don’t know what we have. Judging by his most recent racing record he has done well and Clay is a good choice to get the best out of him.

  2. I’m looking at the condition book and it looks like there is a heavy lean towards benefiting horses bred in MN. I am not very knowledgeable about this but it seems there are maybe only 4 or 5 races we could be in in the first book. I see Day 14 #S2 race looks like it would have been good except… “for 3 year old and upwards which has never won two races”. Does the past success K2 has had mean we might have to make a jump in class?

    • Peter – the only races that are EXCLUSIVE to Minnesota breds are the races that have the logo of Minnesota. Many of the rest have extra money available should a Minnesota bred horse compete successfully against horses bred elsewhere. Typically there are only 1 – 2 Minnesota bred only races a day. We’ll get into this later in the week when we break down the condition book.

  3. If you are up for some reading, you might visit Dan Illman’s book of a few years ago:
    Betting Maidens & 2 Year Olds. Written in a conversational manner, but loaded with information about a racing category most of us are probably not well versed in.

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