Aqueduct plays host to Claiming Championship
By Bob Ehalt
The notion of a claim to fame rings true at Aqueduct on Saturday during the Claiming Championship.
The entire 10-race card at the Big A will feature 10 stakes with a combined purse value of $620,000, all of them for horses who ran for a claiming tag in 2018-19.
Illustrative of the format is the day’s richest race, the $80,000 Caixa Eletronica Stakes. The seven-furlong sprint drew a field of 12, all of whom have raced for a claiming tag of $40,000 or less this year or in 2018.
It’s not unusual that a horse racing in a high-priced claimer can develop into an accomplished runner and that can be seen in Bavaro (4-1 morning line).
Claimed for $25,000 on Jan. 11 by trainer Linda Rice, Bavaro won the Hollie Hughes in his first race for his new trainer and then finished third in the Toboggan, a Grade 3 stakes. Off those two efforts and an 8 1/2-length victory in the Jan. 11 race, Bavaro should be a major player in the seven-furlong stakes.
Mr. Dougie Fresh (7-2) stands a solid chance of reaching the winner’s circle, which can be said about most horses trainer by Jason Servis these days. In his two races since being claimed, Mr. Dougie Fresh finished first and second in allowance races.
Hoffenheim (9-2) has not raced since July 14 but rates a strong chance off a string of six straight races last year in which he finished no worse than third in optional claimers prior to winding up fifth in a stakes and then heading to the sidelines.
American Power (6-1) is also trained by Rice and is coming off a game effort in an allowance race when he lost by a head at Aqueduct on March 10. In his last six starts, he has registered a win, three seconds and two thirds. He was claimed for $40,000 by Rice on Aug. 5 and has already earned $71,919 this year.
Rockin On Bye (6-1) also deserves serious consideration as he ships in from Maryland after making his last five starts in stakes races. He ran second in four of them, but his most impressive effort might have been in the Grade 3 General George Stakes, when he finished fifth, only 3 ¾ lengths behind the winner.
The rest of the field includes Mr. Brix (12-1), Sudden Surprise (15-1), Coltandmississippi (50-1), Still Krz (12-1), G Zap (30-1), Candid Desire (12-1) and Have Another (20-1).
The 10-race card begins at 1:30 p.m.