Jun 22 2013

Optional Claiming Races – A True Hybrid

In two prior articles, we introduced Claiming races and Allowance races.  Optional Claiming races are where the two meet.  Why mix them? The simple answer is to fill races.  Racing secretaries are always looking for ways of getting more horses into races.  Allowance races can be especially tough to fill, especially when you get into the N2X and N3X conditions.  Optional Claiming races are like an Allowance race with a special invitation provided for Claiming animals.

Here’s how it works. The Allowance portion of the race is defined as the typical N1X, N2X, or N3X condition.  Click here for a review of an earlier article explaining how these work.  Then, in addition to the allowance condition, an “optional” claiming price is added for horses that have exceeded the number of allowable wins under the N#X conditions.  So, as long as an owner is willing to enter their horse into the race for the claiming price described, it does not matter how many races their horse has won previously.  Of course, as explained in the post on Claiming races, this means the owner risks losing the horse if claimed out of the race by another trainer.

Let’s show an example, using the 7th race at Saratoga on August 18,2012.  First, here are the race conditions.
Race Conditions for OCL
For this race, the Allowance conditions are N2X, restricting the race to winners of no more than 2 races. However, preceding the N2X is the exception for Claiming horses (OC 50k) that can be entered for a Claiming Price of $50,000. So let’s look at three of the horses entered in this race.

3 Horses in OCL race

The first horse, Good Morning Diva has 2 lifetime wins out of 7 starts (see 7-202 highlighted).  He qualifies under the N2X restrictions, so he does not require a claiming price.  The next horse, Que Posse, has 5 lifetime wins and therefore must be entered for a Claiming price of $50,000.  You see the price circled in the PPs.  The last horse in this example, Shrewd One, has four lifetime wins, yet does not have a Claiming price included on his PPs.  Why not?  I’ll give you a hint: Notice that I’ve highlighted where he was bred, New York State.  If you read the prior article on State Breds vs. Open Company, you’ve probably got it figured out. Here is more of his PPs below.

Shwred One OCL Example

Since Shrewd One is a New York State bred, his wins against restricted State Breds do not count toward the N2X conditions in this “Open” company race.  His victory on May 5 falls into this category, as well as a prior N1X vs. NY Breds not shown here.  That leaves him with only two wins that count toward the allowance restrictions.  Therefore he qualifies for the N2X conditions (thereby avoiding any need for a Claiming Price).

One final point to make on these Optional Claiming races and it shows in this example – you get a real mix of ages in these races.  Generally speaking, the Allowance entrants are younger horses (e.g. 3-year old Good Morning Diva).  While the Claiming entrants are often older horses (e.g. 5-year old Que Posse).  This makes for some interesting handicapping decisions; whether to back the up-and-coming youngster, or the proven older horse.  Interesting, huh!

Neal Headshot2
By Neal Benoit

10 comments on “Optional Claiming Races – A True Hybrid

  1. In allowances optional claiming races, can the owner/trainer still chose to place a claiming tag on its horse even if such horse meets the allowance conditions of the race and technically doesn’t have to run for a claiming tag?

    • I believe they can, but I’m not 100% sure. I will check this out with one of my trainer friends. Thanks for the question.
      Update: My answer was confirmed by a trainer. In fact, if they win the race with a claiming tag, they are eligible to run back again under the allowance conditions.

    • I’m not sure I fully understand the question, but if a horse is entered for a Claiming Tag in the race, there is no option for the owner if the horse is claimed out of the race … the claim goes through and he/she loses the horse. The term “optional” refers to the option to enter a horse under Allowance conditions (if they qualify) OR for a Claiming Tag if they do not. I hope that helps.

  2. @Dmr optional claimers in for the tag races for a lower purse. This is the only track I have seen this listed in the race conditions. Does this apply only for Dmr, or is this a standard but just not listed in other tracks race conditions?

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