Trainers Eddie Barker and Mertkan Kantarmaci finished as co-leaders of the Under 20's Claiming Challenge for the Aqueduct winter meet, NYRA announced Friday. They were each awarded $16,500 for their joint winning effort in the program, which is open to local trainers with 20 or fewer horses.
The shared victory marked the third consecutive win in the series for Kantarmaci, who won the 2018-19 Aqueduct winter and 2019 Belmont spring/summer Under 20s Claiming Challenge titles outright.
Kantarmaci now oversees a stable of 16 horses in New York with the assistance of his father and brother, Ilkay. The stable was on a roll when the winter meet was cut short, finishing first and third with two of their last three starters in a $16,000 claiming sprint Mar. 14 to help secure the tie. He compiled a ledger of 6-6-7 from 52 starters at the Big A winter meet.
Barker, who has spent 28 years on the NYRA circuit, captured the inaugural Under 20's Claiming Challenge at the 2018 Belmont spring/summer meet. He posted a record of 8-9-11 from 62 starters at the Big A winter meet.
Both barns compiled a total of 105 points each through Sunday, March 15 when live racing was last conducted on the NYRA circuit at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The top eight trainers in the contest shared in a prize pool of $80,000. Following Barker and Kantarmaci were Randi Persaud with 80 points and $13,000; Orlando Noda with 59 points and $11,000; John Toscano, Jr. with 58 points for $9,000; David Cannizzo with 55 points for $7,000; Ralph D'Alessandro with 54 for $3,500; and James Ferraro with 54 points for $3,500.