Claiming Crown kicks off Championship Meet at Gulfstream Park

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Jen Caldwell

December 4th, 2015

The 17th running of the Claiming Crown kicks off the 85-day Championship Meet at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, but the event is far from the highlight of the meet.

That honor belongs to the $1 million Florida Derby, the highlight of an eight-stakes strong card on April 2. The 1 1/8-mile affair is part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series of points races and almost guarantees the winner a starting berth in the Kentucky Derby gate by offering points on a 100-40-20-10 basis to the top four finishers.

Two other major event days during the Championship Meet feature points races on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. First up will be the $350,000 Holy Bull S. (G2) on January 20 worth 10-4-2-1. It’s followed on February 27 by the $400,000 Fountain of Youth S. (G2) awarding 50-20-10-5.

The biggest racing day following the Claiming Crown will be January 16, when the six-strong Sunshine Millions worth $1.05 million takes place. The $500,000 Donn H. (G1) highlights a six-stakes extravaganza on February 6 that also includes the $350,000 Gulfstream Park Turf H. (G1).

The racing action gets underway Saturday with the Claiming Crown, which includes races worth $110,000 all the way up to $200,000 for purses totaling $1.1 million.

The biggest event of the Claiming Crown, dubbed the blue-collar runner's Breeders' Cup, is the $200,000 Jewel S. The 1 1/8-mile contest drew a field of 14 including Grade 2-placed Freestyler as well as stakes winner and last-out Millions Turf Preview head runner-up Rizwan.

The $125,000 Tiara S. for distaffers going 1 1/16 miles on the turf will begin the Claiming Crown action in the 3RD race. Recent Cellars Shiraz S. second Quiet Kitten is among the twelve entered. The $125,000 Emerald S. is the brother race to the Tiara and attracted an overflow field of 16 highlighted by Roman Approval, who finished a neck second in the Stars and Stripes S. (G3), fourth in the American St. Leger (G3) and third in the Kentucky Turf Cup (G3) over the summer.

Also scheduled for the turf are the Claiming Crown Canterbury S. and Claiming Crown Distaff Dash S., with both $110,000 events scheduled for five furlongs. The Canterbury drew an oversubscribed 16-horse field, including Millions Turf Sprint Preview dead-heating thirds Delta Bluesman and Noble Prince. Fourteen, including one main-track only entrant, will go in the Distaff Dash.

Sprinters will get their turn in the spotlight, as well. The $110,000 Claiming Crown Express S. features an overflow field of 15 going six furlongs while the $110,000 Claiming Crown Rapid Transit S. will send 11 runners seven furlongs. The latter contest attracted both Vosburgh S. (G3) third Stallwalkin’ Dude and Grade 3 scorer Trouble Kid, who had a four-race win streak broken when disqualified in the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash last out.

The other two Claiming Crown races are the $110,000 Iron Horse S., featuring 10 runners going 1 1/16 miles on the main track, and the $110,000 Glass Slipper S. sending 13 distaffers a mile on the dirt.

2 Million Points Claiming Crown Exacta-mundo:  Gulfstream Park kicks off its Championship meet this Saturday with the “Blue Collar Breeders’ Cup,” also known as the Claiming Crown, featuring nine stakes worth $1.1 million for best horses in the claiming rank.

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