Texas Connections Finish A Brave Second in the Claiming Crown Iron Horse Stakes

After battling Entrepreneurship all the way around the track, the Dallas Keen-trained Regal Tour bravely held on to edge that foe for second place in the $50,000 Claiming Crown Iron Horse Stakes at Philadelphia Park on Saturday, August 31. Ruskin rallied in the stretch to pass both the pacesetters for the victory. Texans John Milton, J. Goss and J. W. Harrison qualified Regal Tour for the race by winning the Iron Horse Prep Race at Lone Star Park on July 6.

Trainer Scott Lake notched his sixth victory in three years and jockey Jose Flores tallied his fourth when Blue Bayou Stable's (Scott Lake & Brad Rowe) Ruskin, a 9-year-old son of Lac Ouimet, took the Iron Horse at 1 1/16 miles as the 3-5 choice. It was the 20th victory from 62 starts for Ruskin, who has only been off the board once in 13 starts this year. He was timed in 1:45.37.

The Texas Horsemen's Partnership (THP), through its affiliation with the National HBPA, sponsored the winners of all the prep races at Lone Star Park if they chose to go to Philadelphia Park and compete in the Claiming Crown events. Regal Tour was the only qualifier from the group to actually make the trip.

The Claiming Crown is a group of six races for claiming horses ages 3 and up. The distances range from six furlongs to a mile and an eighth with purses starting at $50,000 and going up to $150,000. These races are for the hard-knocking heroes of the turf. Generally, to start in one of the six races, a horse must have run at least once at the specified level or below within the year prior to the event and must have finished in the top three in a race at that level or better. Performance points earned in races, in accordance with the event's conditions, determine the horses selected to participate in the Claiming Crown. However, through its affiliation with the National HBPA and TOBA, the THP was able to work with these groups and Lone Star Park to guarantee automatic berths into these races if they won their "prep" race at Lone Star Park.

Favorites won four of the six Claiming Crown events, worth a total of $550,000, while only two of the six were won by Philadelphia Park-based horses. It was the first year the Bensalem, Pa. track hosted the event, which is dubbed the "Breeders' Cup for claiming horses." In all, 53 horses were entered, 10 less than competed at Canterbury Park in Minnesota in 2001.

While Philadelphia does not report attendance, total handle for the 11-race card was better than $2 million.

The Claiming Crown is scheduled to return to Canterbury next year, and a new host track will be selected for 2004.

In other Claiming Crown results:

  • In his first start in the East in more than two years, Ailshie & Aidekman's Truly a Judge shipped from California and ran away with the $150,000 Jewel, the last and richest race of the six Claiming Crown Championship events. Trained by David Bernstein, Truly a Judge was never far back under Jose Valdivia and took the Jewel by 5 1/4 lengths over eight seasoned competitors in 1:50.39 for 1 1/8 miles. Delaware Park-based Quiet Mike, who was unprepared for the break, was second, while Louisiana Downs invader Prince Iroquois was third.
  • Geloso & Tomillo Jr.'s Talknow, a razor-sharp Arlington Park invader, waltzed away with the $50,000 Express at six furlongs under Elvis Truillo, timed in 1:09.29 as the favorite. "He just keeps getting better and better," trainer Tom Tomillo said of the winner of 13 of 28 starts lifetime.
  • Bada Bing Stable's Won Moro posted a mild upset at 4-1 when she took the $75,000 Glass Slipper for fillies and mares at 6 1/2 furlongs. Trained by Bob Klesaris, she was ridden by Gerald Melancon and was timed in 1:17.01. Her last victory came for a $35,000 tag in New York in March.
  • The decision to enter Robert Amendola's Risen Warrior in the $100,000 Rapid Transit wasn't made by trainer Jose Gallegos until the morning of the race, but it proved the right one as the 6-year-old son of Lost Code took the 6 1/2-furlong test under Stewart Elliott, who posted four victories on the card. The time was 1:16.10.
  • The Kiaran McLaughlin owned and trained Nowrass, who'd competed in Dubai and New York the last two years, easily took the $125,000 Emerald at 1 1/16 miles on a "good" turf course over locally based Grade One. Nowrass was piloted by Jose Valdivia, which gave him a Claiming Crown double. Nowrass was clocked in 1:46.66.
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