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September 11, 2009

Timber Claiming Races Back On The Card

With Monmouth Park (N.J.) and Shawan Downs (Md.) sharing on the same race date of Sept. 26, the National Steeplechase Association has decided to give the open claiming timber race a try again to lure more timber horses to Maryland.

Claiming races are nothing new for steeplechase meets. Many trainers use these races to prep for others, taking the risk of losing their owner’s precious mounts in a claim or perhaps hoping to unload some excess horses, but these races are usually run as hurdle races.

The last time the NSA tried to generate interest in the timber claiming game was in 1992 and ’93 at the Montpelier Hunt Races (Va.) and the Virginia Gold Cup. It resulted in no claims, but NSA officials believe this may be the year. So for the nice price of $10,000 to $15,000 anyone with ready cash can own one of these timber claimers.

“It should be interesting to see if it fills,” said NSA General Manger Pete McGivney. “There are a lot of good timber horses floating around. You never know what people might put in, and if it doesn’t work we’ll shelve it again.”

Whether it’s the economy or just a coincidence, there have been no claims in any of the many sanctioned claiming races run this year, and the trainers have run some nice horses, perhaps banking that no one is going to scoop them up.

“It’s been very quiet this year,” McGivney said. “Last year [there were] three claims in one race for one horse.”

This new open claiming race gives Shawan Downs three timber races that day in addition to two hurdle races. Shawan will most likely be the timber prep for the $50,000 International Gold Cup (Oct. 17) or the $35,000 Pennsylvania Hunt Cup (Nov. 1) this year.

Monmouth will showcase six hurdle races with one filly/mare stakes.

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