Onenightstandards wins an allowance at Kentucky Downs (Grace Clark)
Kentucky HBPA Press Release
LOUISVILLE, Ky.— Kentucky-based Mike Maker has won more Claiming Crown races — 19 — than anyone throughout the series’ first 23 years. He’ll have four chances to add to that total Saturday. While that’s fewer than he’s sent out in recent years, it’s not for lack of enthusiasm for horse racing’s special day to showcase the industry’s workhorses. Rather, it’s that Maker hasn’t been able to keep some of the horses he had earmarked for the Claiming Crown.
“With the purse structure they’ve had this year between Kentucky and Saratoga, we lost quite a few,” Maker said, referring to all the horses he’s had claimed off of him. “It was tougher to protect them,” by running them for a higher price claiming price that previously might discourage people from going after the horse. Now, with record purses in Kentucky and at Saratoga’s elite meet, horsemen don’t shy away from the more expensive claiming prices. They know they can drop a pricey horse down into a lower claiming level and still have a good shot to make money.
Of course, it likewise has become tougher to replace those lost horses because of the aggressive claiming, Maker said. “Very tough.”
But one can never count out Maker in the Claiming Crown. He could have one of the favorites for the $150,000 Claiming Crown Emerald in Onenightstandards. The Emerald is 1/16 miles on turf for horses that have run for a $25,000 claiming price or cheaper in 2021-2022.
Paradise Farms’ 4-year-old sold for $1,000 as a yearling. Onenightstandards worked his way up the claiming ranks to where Maker claimed him for $80,000 a year ago. The gelding won a Kentucky Downs’ entry-level allowance race worth $160,000 off an eight-month layoff, then was a late-running third in a second-level allowance at Keeneland.
“He had conditions, which thankfully we got one (win) at Kentucky Downs,” Maker said of the claim, adding with a laugh, “They got their money back, and now we’re working on the training bills…. The time off did him well. He came back and ran a bang-up race at Kentucky Downs and faced a quality field at Keeneland last time.”
By contrast, Keystone Field — Maker’s entry in the $175,000 Jewel at 1 1/8 miles on dirt for horses that ran for $35,000 or less in 2021-2022 — sold for $525,000 as a yearling. Now 7, the gelding was sold privately to Three Diamonds Farms and sent from California to Maker in the spring. In his last start, Keystone Field won a $62,500 claiming race at Keeneland by 8 1/4 lengths.
“Hopefully he can repeat that performance,” Maker said. “He’s run well at Churchill Downs against a lot of good horses. The mile and an eighth sure won’t hurt him.”
David Radliff’s Souper Catch runs in the $100,000 Kent Stirling Memorial Iron Horse at 1 1/16 miles for horses that competed for $8,000 claiming or less at any time in their career. It will be Super Catcher’s first start for Maker after getting the 8-year-old gelding a month ago. While Super Catcher comes in off two decisive defeats, Maker said, “he looks great and trains super so we’ll see what happens. He makes a great first impression.”
Maker is adding blinkers to Paradise Farms’ 5-year-old mare Invaluable, who is making her second start for the barn since being claimed for $32,000. She runs in the $100,000 Glass Slipper at a mile for fillies and mares that have raced for $12,500 or less in 2021-2022.
Invaluable finished third in her last race, a $10,000 starter allowance, as the 9-5 favorite.
“She kind of disappointed me last time,” Maker said. “She flattened out, but I think she was a little closer to the pace than she should have been. I think the one-turn mile will actually suit her.”