TOBA: Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association
Owner Education


Claiming races constitute the majority of Thoroughbred races. Each horse entered in such a race is subject to sale, or claim, at the value stated in the conditions of the race. However, all purse money earned is the property of the person in whose name the horse started.

The primary advantage to claiming is that it offers immediate racing action. Likened to purchasing a used car, the buyer may be obtaining a horse which, with a change in training routine, may develop and excel or may turn out to be nothing more than a lemon. Unlike purchasing a horse at public auction or privately, the buyer is not entitled to perform a veterinary examination prior to the purchase.

If you elect to pursue this option, you should employ a trainer who excels in this aspect of the business. With your trainer, devise a strategy for selecting potential claims.

Consider the following points prior to claiming a horse:

1. Review the jurisdiction's claiming rules.

Claiming rules differ from state to state. It is important to note: (a) The point at which the horse becomes the property of the new owner - when it steps onto the track before the race, when it leaves the starting gate or at another point; and (b) the conditions under which the horse must make its next start.

2. Complete the paperwork.

Obtain the proper owner's license. To be eligible to claim, you must possess the proper owner's license from the state in which you intend to claim. Licensing is controlled by the particular state's racing commission or board. If you are not licensed in that state, you are required to complete the application process, receiving either a permanent or temporary license.

Most states now have rules authorizing open claiming, thus permitting licensed owners who do not currently have horses stabled at the particular racetrack where the horse is running to claim a horse.

  • Establish an account with the racetrack's paymaster or horsemen's bookkeeper. Prior to the claim being made, an owner's account must have sufficient funds to cover the transaction: the claiming price plus state sales tax. Sales laws and bookkeeper's procedures differ from state to state and from track to track. If you intend to have your trainer make a claim on your behalf, there must be an authorized agent form on file. Contact the Horsemen's Bookkeeper and/or Claims Clerk for more precise information on these matters.
  • Complete the claims slip. Claims must be made on the day of the race and filed prior to the start of the race in accordance with the rules of the specific jurisdiction. Claiming forms are available in the racing office. The information on the claim form must be absolutely correct; a misspelling can invalidate a claim. A person is not permitted to enter a claim for more than one horse in a race. If more than one person wishes to claim the same horse, a random selection system is used to decide the new owner. The system is commonly referred to as a shake.

3. Take possession of the horse.

Title and risk pass to the new owner immediately upon selection as the successful claim. As the new owner, you will be expected to take possession of the horse at the conclusion of the race or after completion of any post-race tests.

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P.O. Box 910668 · Lexington, KY 40591-0668
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