Belle Back on Track; Targeting 2nd Friday

Brilliant Belle went back to the track for training today and is showing no ill effects from her race…eh, victory…on Friday. She will continue to work over the track for the next week and we’ll look for her next start.  Then it will be up to paddock group 2 to keep the momentum going!


We’re researching several horses that are in tomorrow night for a possible second Club horse.  Several factors go into this process.  You try to check the background of the horse if you can – if there has been a history of injury, for example.  Or if the horse has any interesting quirks.  You try and find our if the layoffs the horse has experienced (there SHOULD be some layoffs, they just can’t keep training and training.  Eventually they will sour) have reasonable explanations. Make sure their workouts are regular and consistent.

As long as all there factors check out, they have to pass the “eye” test: watch them walk over before their race and see if there is anything that there is to be alarmed about: legs, knees, ankles and the way the horse moves.

If all checks out then we’ll drop the claiming slip and see if we can get ourselves another horse.


Welcome to the Team: Brilliant Belle

Brilliant Belle, a 4-year old bay daughter of Afleet Alex, is the first runner for the 2017 Club!

Claimed out of the 5th race at Oaklawn today by trainer Nevada Litfin for $7500, she finished a solid 2nd place after stalking the speed mid-pack in the 6 furlong affair finishing well in her 2nd start off a short layoff.  We won a 2-way shake for her as there was one other claim slip dropped.

In her short career she has run 13 times, winning twice and now finishing in the money for the 8th time.  She broke her maiden at Keeneland in a $20,000 maiden claimer and notched her second win in a $30,000 non-winners of two claiming race at Churchill last June.

Nevada will get her back to the barn, cool her out and we’ll see how she’s doing in a few days and plan her first start for us – be it at Oaklawn or opening weekend here at home (if we can get in).

I will post her lifetime past performances either later this evening or tomorrow so you can all peruse.

Congratulations and Good Luck to us all!

Claiming and Racing Question

The following question came in earlier this evening and I know that many folks don’t get a chance to get back in and read the comments section and I think this is worth everyone getting a chance to read so I’m making it into an entire post. I would emphasize – please feel free and stop me anytime you see me if you have comments and questions or log on and drop them in here so they can get answered and you feel like you’re left wondering.

Q – Ted – I am a little disappointed on how the club is being handled this year. I thought by now we would have another horse. Mz. Owell will probably get claimed this Friday and then we will be back to ZERO. Why haven’t we got another horse yet? Why are we running Mz. Owell in a $7500 spot instead of trying her higher? Lots of questions and I hope you can satisfy the club people with your answers. Since this is a learning experience I don’t know if we need a better horse ($$$) or what. I know that many people have talked to me and I don’t have any answers.

A – I’m sorry that you and others are disappointed. I am around and walking around every weekend so folks should feel free to stop and ask me anything or drop a question in here where they can get answers.

Clay and I have been looking for another horse since we got Miz Owell. We had to wait a week or so because Clay didn’t have any stall space but other than that, we’ve checked over probably half a dozen horses since that time – 3 this weekend alone. As you all know, I give Clay veto power over anything that I pick out because his eye is a lot better than mine as is his ear on backside scuttlebutt that would give him a clue as to what may be wrong with a horse. He rejected all three, so we continue to look for something in that 7500 – 16000 range that he can work with. Since we claimed Miz Owell there has only been a single claim between that range. And to reiterate, neither of us like to claim at the bottom because that is where there the soreness and soundness issues tend to lie and that’s when vet bills become extraordinary and racing becomes problematical.

The reason we are running Miz Owell at $7500 is because that’s the only place we can for at least another 2 weeks. She’s already been off too long between her stomach issue and her race coming off the turf. Ideally we would have liked a $12,500 claiming race but none were written so we had a choice – run her at $7500 and get her on the track or wait until July 24 and hope the $10,000 race filled. If it didn’t, we’d have to wait longer – at which point people would be upset that we weren’t racing.

It’s a tightrope balancing act but we would rather err on the side of racing than sitting in the barn and hopefully we’ll have a stablemate to go with her (or without her) soon. If she does get claimed, we’ll continue to look for another horse to try and get two in the stable.


We dropped our first claim slip today in the sixth race at Oaklawn on a mare named Congrats Honey. Congrats Honey is a 5-year old mare by Congrats out of an Honor and Glory mare, Happy Honeymoon.

She’s a steady and consistent sort, the type we like to have as a Club runner. She had been running quite a bit since her return to the races after a short break and doing so at a class level that may have been a bit high for her. We thought that dropping back into claiming company at $10,000 was a square price on her so Clay checked her out on the way over from the barn and in the paddock and went ahead and filled out the claim slip on her.

She ran a very game second at 14-1 behind an emphatic winner, verifying the faith we had in her.

There were three claim slips filled out for her, though. Three numbered pills were placed in a bottle and the three slips were numbered. The bottle was shaken and the then inverted – first pill out wins the “shake” and gets the horse.

It was not us.

So we go back and keep looking while we also keep an eye on her and see if she comes back one more time before the end of the meet as well.

Back, as they say, to the drawing board!

The Claiming Game

Now that the Club is finalized (171 members, $42,750) it is time to go shopping. The way we’ll do that is through the claiming process.

About 80% of the races held in North America are claiming races or races in which the horses are up for sale. This process was instituted to keep each race as even as possible. You certainly weren’t going to risk your prize stallion if you knew he could be had for just a few thousand dollars! Claiming helps stratify racing and keeps a few good horses from beating up on those less talented.

Claiming levels vary greatly around the country. At some country fair and rural tracks the prices can be as low as $1000 while at the larger venues there can be $100,000 claiming races. The bottom line is the same: each horse is for sale for price laid out in the conditions of the race.

There is a very specific process you need to go through to claim a horse. It varies a bit from track to track but I’ll outline the generic process below.

First, you pick out the horse you want to buy. Clay and I sort through Past Performances and check on possible targets. We’ll be looking for a pair of horses about $10,000 or less for the Club given our budget. Our criteria will be 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 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. With a solid pair we can get as many starts in as possible over the course of the season.

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 opened 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, California and Arkansas 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. A horse we were looking at for the Alumni group had 16 claim slips dropped on him, for example. Oaklawn, especially, is a real hotbed of claiming activity.

Over the next few weeks, this is the process we will follow to try and get at least one – and hopefully two – horses for the Club. We may be successful, we may not and half to claim here at Canterbury when the meet starts, but either way the process has begun!

If you have any questions, please fire away in the comments section. Remember, the Club is designed to be a learning experience and we presuppose no level of knowledge so there is no such thing as a bad or stupid question!

Okay…Now What?

Thanks to you all that have signed up and re-upped to join us in 2016. There are still a few “checks in the mail” so while we work through that (should be completed by the end of this week) here is where we go from here.

It looks like we are going to have approximately 160 or so members. This is slightly higher than where we were last year but still far from the record 202 we had two years back. That means we will have about $40,000 to spend so we will try and get a pair of horses that we can run through the season.

I am submitted our applications to Arkansas for licensing. Like the state of Minnesota, Arkansas only licenses owners that have more than 5% interest in the group so I will be the license holder for the group. Arkansas requires that we register as a stable name as well as a partnership and those licenses are $30 each.

Clay Brinson, our trainer, is at Oaklawn and will be looking to claim us a horse or two. Claiming activity there is hot and heavy so it may take a while to get our first horse. I will outline the claiming process and what we are looking for in a post later this week/weekend.

We should be ready as soon as possibly this weekend to start shopping. In the past we have been fortunate and been able to get a horse right away and we have also struggled a bit and not been able to get a horse until we returned to Shakopee, so it’s hard to say how soon we will have a horse in the barn. However, we start looking now!

Welcome aboard and thanks for joining us!

Welcome Tens Wild!


I know it was a longer than usually wait but we certainly hope it will pay off with Tens Wild. Tens Wild is a 6-year old son of Tenpins and is now 5 of 30 on his career. He’s an Illinois bred gray/roan and looks like he could be solid for us at this level ($10,000).

We’re also fans of his versatility as he’s won on the dirt as well as the turf.

It usually takes horses a few days to settle in after a race and entering a new barn. We’ll get him back to the barn and let him cool out and see how he’s doing come the beginning of the week.

I’ll put out a paddock schedule later this week as well as post our boy’s lifetime past performances, breeding and let you know how he’s settling in. Heather got some great pictures and we’ll get those posted as well for everyone. Finally, we’ll get our first date for a backside tour nailed down sometime next weekend, so look for that post (the date will be announced next weekend, the tour is not next weekend).

We’re still on the lookout for another horse, so we’re not done yet, but at least we’re in business!

Congratulations and good luck!