Basic Action: As we’ve covered in prior editions of #TheAction, claiming races are at the bottom of racing’s class system. The reason for that is because when an owner enters a horse in a claiming race, the horse can be “claimed,” or purchased, directly out of the race by any other licensed owner who is interested in owning the horse. So, it follows that if an owner enters his or her horse in a claiming race, that the owner is willing to lose his horse via sale or claim.
Think about it: If an owner is willing to lose his horse to another owner in a claiming race, what does that mean about the confidence the original owner has in the horse’s ability? Does the owner think the horse can win a more lucrative allowance or stakes race — in which there’s no possibility that the horse will get claimed away from the owner? Probably not. Otherwise, why take the risk of losing the horse and settling for the smaller purses (award money) in claiming races?
Advanced Action: All of this is not to say that there aren’t “good” horses in claiming races. There are many capable horses running across all levels of the claiming races, from $50,000 claiming races all the way down to $10,000 claiming races.
Sometimes, horses are just “off-form” and need to run against softer competition in claiming races to get back in a groove. Horses are naturally competitive, and the thinking is that they are very aware if they win or lose races. So, “dropping down” into claiming company and winning a race or two can go a long way in boosting a horse’s confidence and maybe even propelling that horse back up into allowance company at some point.
To properly bet a claiming race, handicappers have to put themselves inside the mind of each owner in the race. The question to ask is: why would this owner enter this horse in this race?