The Art of Claiming
Reprinted with the permission of the Thoroughbred Owners of California
Everyone hopes to own a stakes horse, or better yet, a graded stakes horse. However, the reality is that most of us own claiming stock. Despite that fact, it seems that in terms of personal satisfaction, we jump just a high and smile just as broadly when one of our claimers wins a race as those owners lucky enough to own a stakes winner.
While some owners are consumed by the desire to find and race only stakes horses, there is a significant number of horsemen who prefer to devote their time and energies to developing a powerful and lucrative stable of claiming horses. Sometimes this "preference" is driven by a personal desire to compete as often as possible, but in most instances it is purely a question of economics, i.e., what is most affordable to the particular owner.
In addition to financial considerations, and given the predominance of claiming races and the relative "abundance" of claiming stock, a prudent owner should always consider the inherent advantages and disadvantages of any claim. These considerations apply equally to both individual claims and to the claiming process in general.
It is widely accepted that claiming horses have established values. In other words, their performance on the track and the levels at which they are competitive are clear objective indications of a horse's value.
Purely from an investment stand-point, this makes the claiming horse a "less risky" investment; the speculative nature of assessing and establishing a horse's value is significantly reduced.
It is commonly recognized in the industry that there is a shortage of quality racing stock. In the claiming business this fact translates into more and more competition at the claiming box. Consequently, "getting outshook" is the fact of life.
Owners must also keep in mind that the competition for good horses coupled with better purses makes all of us more willing to make riskier claims.
Opportunity to Invest
In comparison to equine purchases made at auction sales, in the claiming game there is a ready supply of horses available for purchase everyday. Accordingly, an owner can essentially change his/her stable's inventory on any given day.
Likewise, there are so many varied claiming levels that the average owner enjoys a diverse "menu" from which to select. If one is willing to look for horses to claim at racetracks other than the closest track, your opportunity to find a useful horse could be improved.
Points to Keep In Mind
Luck and skill are essential to the success of just about every business. However, the success of any claim relies primarily on the skill of the individual making the claim.
There is no simple means to teach one how to become adept in the claiming game. What must be taught is that there is no substitute for study and learned evaluation of a horse's potential and actual performance. As with any science or art, those who experience success and recognition are generally the hardest workers.