2 trainers delight in `Breeders' for claimers

August 07, 1999|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

For one weekend at least, Maryland trainers Linda Albert and Jerry Brooks can feel akin to their more famous counterparts Bob Baffert and D. Wayne Lukas.

Their fantasy revolves around the inaugural Claiming Crown today at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minn. Six races worth $560,000 feature claiming horses, the sport's blue-collar, unsung heroes. Albert and Brooks are the only trainers from Maryland participating.

Albert will saddle Miss Angelina in the $125,000 stakes for $20,000 claimers (fillies and mares), and Brooks will start Kayacan in the $50,000 stakes for $5,000 claimers.

"Here's a guy running for $5,000 in Maryland who suddenly is running in a national race," said Brooks, describing himself. "I feel like a big shot."

Said Albert: "I'm getting a chance to do things I don't normally do -- fly a horse to a race and travel a little bit."

Albert trains 30 head at Bowie, mostly allowance horses and claimers. Claiming horses compete in races in which they're for sale for a predetermined price. Although they fill the majority of thoroughbred races in this country, they receive scant attention.

That's why Canterbury Park, the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, and the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association are billing the Claiming Crown as "the working man's Breeders' Cup."

Sixty-eight horses were entered in the six races for claiming horses valued at $5,000 to $25,000. They will race for unimagined purses from $50,000 to $150,000, with afternoon races part of the Maryland Jockey Club simulcast network.

Albert's Miss Angelina, a 5-year-old mare with nine wins in 31 races, will compete for a share of a $125,000 pot. Albert figures Miss Angelina, 6-1 in the morning line, must finish third or better to profit her owner, Nonsequitur Stable.

Brooks, who trains five horses at Pimlico and drives a horse van part time, drove Kayacan, an 8-year-old gelding, to Minnesota -- a 22-hour trip.

"When you claim a horse for $5,000, you just hope to break even," Brooks said of his January acquisition for Reisterstown farmer Tom Reynolds. "And here I am seven months later in a $50,000 race, and he's favored. It's unreal."

Pub Date: 8/07/99

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