The mainstream sports fan probably only spends about six minutes watching horse racing in a given year — the combined running time of the three Triple Crown races. A smaller subset will follow the 14 million-dollar races run over Breeders Cup weekend. Fewer still will watch the graded stakes races that lead up to the Kentucky Derby. Almost no one pays attention to the claimers, the largest segment of the racing world. This oversight costs them the chance to follow the same kind of stories that draw them in on Derby Day. Just because an event plays out beyond the spotlight’s reach doesn’t mean there aren’t compelling stories to follow.
For 21 years, the horses on the lowest rung of competitive racing and their human connections have had their day: the Claiming Crown, to be run again this year at Gulfstream Park. In this episode, we share the story of the biggest raceday with the biggest purses and the best fields available to the sport’s little guys.
Thank you to Dan Metzger of TOBA and Eric Hamelback of the National HBPA for all of your help in putting this story together, and to everyone who made themselves available during a busy race week to talk about the Claiming Crown: Mike Maker, Ken Ramsey, Peter Walder, and my go-to horse guy, Steve Schubert. Big thanks to Gulfstream Park and Canterbury Park for the calls from Claiming Crowns past, and to Denis Blake and Coglianese Photos for the action photo of Leitone from his win in the 2019 Claiming Crown Jewel.
Thank you, as always, to our friends who make every episode possible: Electra-Craft, Everipe, and Soggy Doggy. And to George Hochbrueckner for the original tunes.
You can follow the 2020 Claiming Crown live by setting up an account with 1stBet.

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