This post may contain affiliate links. We earn from qualifying purchases. Learn More
The world of horse racing is full of excitement and suspense. A day at the races will often provide hours of action-packed entertainment.
In the world of horse racing, there are many different types of horse races. One type of race people are often unfamiliar with is claiming races. These types of races are beneficial for those looking to buy or sell a horse.
Claiming races occur at racetracks all around the world. In some cases, they may compromise the majority of the races taking place on any given day.
A claiming race is a type of horse race where all of the horses competing are for sale for a predetermined amount. A horse may be entered for anywhere from $5,000 to $150,000, depending on the track. Horses will compete against other horses valued equally.
Those interested in buying a horse put in a claim prior to the start of the race. If no one else submits a claim, ownership is transferred following the race for the predetermined price. If multiple people submit claims then the person who receives ownership is chosen at random.
Claim races are often more competitive by matching horses of equal value. This is in part because one of the goals of claiming races is to produce competitive betting. The previous owner of the horse will receive any purse money the horse wins in the race.
In order to place a claim on a horse, a person must be a licensed racehorse owner or an agent registered at the track. They must “have a horse registered to race at that meeting or who have received a claim certificate from the stewards.”
The owner or agent must fill out a claim sheet and deposit the slip into the claim box, usually 15 minutes before the start of the race.
Rules of claiming races may vary by the individual track. While the rules are often very similar you should always read them first before placing a claim.
In most cases, an owner will enter a horse in a claiming race with the intent of selling it. However, in some cases, a horse may be entered in hopes that it will win a substantial purse, with no intent of it being purchased though it could happen.
As stated above, when multiple people submit claims for one horse the person who receives ownership is chosen at random. It is done through a process known as a “shake.”
Numbered pills, one representing each potential owner, are placed in the bottle and shaken. The number that is pulled out by the official is now the new owner of the horse.
As soon as the race is over, the ownership will switch over hands if the horse is claimed. The person making the claim must have enough money in their horsemen’s bookkeeper account to pay for the horse.
Claims may be void in certain cases such as if the horse dies, is euthanized, or is vanned off the track. In addition, a claim may also be void if a veterinarian determines that the horse is “physically distressed, medically compromised, unsound, or lame” within one hour of the race.
Claims are not valid if the horse tests positive for a prohibited substance.
Horse racing can be divided into four main categories: claiming races, maiden races, allowance races, and stakes races.
Claiming races are the lowest class of horse racing and are among the most common races. There are a few different types of claiming races including maiden claiming and optional claiming.
Maiden claiming races are for horses who have never won a race before and are eligible to be claimed. Racehorses are known as maidens until they win their first race.
In optional claiming races, an owner may choose to run his horse in a claiming race with the option to opt out of the claiming process. Some optional claiming races are optional maiden claiming races.
While many horses find success after competing in claiming races, only a handful make it to the very top. Over the years, some of the greatest racehorses had their careers begin with claiming races.
One of the most famous racehorses to ever live, Seabiscuit ran in three claiming races during his career. His price was set at $2,500 but he never had any takers. However, Seabiscuit went on to have an incredible career, winning 33 starts and beating the Triple Crown champion War Admiral in a one-on-one face-off.
He is ranked 25th in Blood Horse magazine’s Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century.
The legendary John Henry started out with a humble career that progressed by entering a $25,000 claimer and a $35,000 claimer. After a 14-length victory with no takers in the $35,000 claiming race he never looked back.
He went on to win 39 starts and became the first racehorse to surpass $4 million in career earnings, taking home a whopping $6,591,860. He sits at 23rd on the Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century.
Stymie competed in two claiming races before being claimed for $1,500. Despite an unsuccessful start to his career, he went on to win 35 starts and became the richest racehorse in America at the time. He is ranked 41 on the Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century.
Rich Strike stunned the world by winning the 2022 Kentucky Derby with an odds of 80-1. He had been purchased in a claiming race for a price of $30,000.
Charismatic won the 1999 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes before narrowly missing out on a Belmont Stakes victory. He ran in two claiming races, remaining unclaimed in both, before making his rise to fame. Sadly, an injury ended his successful career early.