Reformed claiming horses taking center stage in 2019
Claiming runners turning into prominent horses is not a new thing in horse racing. We could look back to the early 1940s when a horse named *Princequillo was claimed for a reported $2,500. He not only outran his price tag to become among the top distance horses of his times, but Princequillo was twice a leading sire and six times the leading Broodmare Sire in North America. He may be most recognized through his daughter Somethingroyal, dam of Secretariat. Legendary horses such as two-time Horse of the Year John Henry, Hall-of-Fame recipient Stymie, three-time Hollywood Gold Cup (G1) star Lava Man and dual-classic winning champion Charismatic are a few of the most prominent rags-to-riches horses that come to mind. It has been a banner early part of the 2019 season for horses previously entered in claiming events. Not only have a pair of legitimate Kentucky Derby (G1) contenders emerged, but a few division leaders are on the list as well. Maximum Security Unbeaten three-year-old has won in each of his four lifetime races, capped by a dominant score in the Florida Derby (G1) last time out for Jason Servis. The superb son of New Year’s Day will go postward in the Run for the Roses as the potential one to catch. Maximum Security debuted for a modest $16,000 first time out at Gulfstream Park in December. Tax Withers (G3) victor proved his graded tally was no fluke after finishing a fine second in the Wood Memorial S. (G2) over the weekend. Trained by Danny Gargan, the well-bred gelded son of Arch will move on to Louisville as a fresh runner, and one that is bred for the Derby distance, as well. Tax ran initially for a $30,000 tag before being haltered for $50,000 from his second lifetime start. World of Trouble Another from the Servis shedrow, the son of Kantharos is among the most talented and most versatile one-turn horses in training. Florida-bred colt finished a big second in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) in the fall, and he bagged the Carter H. (G1) on the Aqueduct main oval on Saturday. He owns stakes wins on a fast surface, a sloppy oval and on the turf, too. World of Trouble debuted for a $25,000 tag in August 2017. Vasilika Jerry Hollendorfer’s mare started out with humble beginnings, facing maiden claiming foes in seven of her initial eight lifetime starts. Kentucky-bred daughter of Skipshot was claimed in February of 2018 for $40,000 by her current connections and the rest is history. The five-year-old is 11-for-13 since, amassing six graded wins along the way including the 2018 Rodeo Drive S. (G1). She is untested from a trio of graded wins in 2019 and clearly the top turf distaffer based in the Golden State right now. Combining her residual value with her on-track credentials, I would consider Vasilika to be among the most successful claims in recent times. She is an absolute gem! Zulu Alpha Gelded son of Street Cry was not a cheap claim, picked up for $80,000 in September, and has been sharp in 2019. The six-year-old is perfect from two tries, taking the William L. McKnight S. (G3) and Mac Diarmida S. (G2) at Gulfstream Park. The turf stayer is unbeaten at marathon distances since being moved to the barn of Mike Maker and with another top performance or two, Zulu Alpha can stamp himself as one of the better long-distance turf performers in the U.S. These five diamonds in the rough are paving the way in 2019 and proof that the claiming game is alive and well!