Owner Wycoff Splashes Home With Two Wins On Rain-Soaked Claiming Crown Card

Money Supply | Hodges Photography

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Owner Jordan Wycoff was victorious with his only two entrants on Saturday's Claiming Crown card, executing a similar strategy with both favored winners. Each had met their respective starter-allowance eligibility conditions by only once having raced at or below the required minimum claiming price. And both recently had been running against tough competition on the New York and Kentucky circuits before overpowering their fields at Fair Grounds in a rain-soaked renewal of the annual event nicknamed “the blue-collar Breeders' Cup.”

One of Wycoff's wins Dec. 2 was delivered by Money Supply (Practical Joke), who was so keen to score in the featured $200,000 Jewel at nine furlongs that the 2.8-1 shot broke through the gate prior to the start.

After being cleared to reload, the 4-year-old colt was a touch unsettled in the early stages. He got pelted with wet kickback while carving out an inside trip, brushed briefly when seeking room for a rally in mid-stretch, then opened up when cued to quicken between tiring leaders before extending fluidly under hand encouragement through the final sixteenth.

“He broke good and just kind of got shuffled back in there, but he was handling it well the whole time, and when we turned for home, I had a lot of horse,” said jockey Jareth Loveberry after the 1:52.05 win over nine furlongs.

A $400,000 KEESEP buy, Money Supply had never been in for a tag until previous connections Klaravich Stable and Chad Brown risked losing him for $35,000 on Aug. 20 at Saratoga. Money Supply won his N2L condition the day he was claimed by trainer Joe Sharp on behalf of Wycoff, and three subsequent allowance and/or starter races after that yielded one narrow defeat at Saratoga and two victories at Churchill Downs.

Sharp said he and Wycoff had “an epiphany” after the first of those two wins Sept. 27 that reminded them that having run for a $35,000 tag in 2022-23 meant that Money Supply was eligible for the Jewel.

“At that point, we started to target it,” Sharp said.

The result was a 1 3/4-length, going-away win in the premier Claiming Crown race.

The Claiming Crown, which began in 1999 as a way to showcase and reward horses who compete in the types of races that form the backbone of day-to-day American racing, is a partnership between the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association (NHBPA) and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association.

After initially starting at Canterbury Park while occasionally rotating among other tracks in its formative years, Gulfstream Park had evolved into the host track starting early in the 2010s decade.

But for 2022, the Claiming Crown switched sites to Churchill Downs, where a November snow wiped out last year's turf races. When the series got switched to the Fair Grounds (which last hosted in 2011) for the 2023 edition, Mother Nature followed with more nasty weather.

It rained so hard in New Orleans prior to Saturday's first post that track management opted to cancel the days first two (non-Claiming Crown) races, and an abandonment of the grass races was necessary for the second year in a row.

Maintenance crews worked the track to remove standing water, and after an additional 45-minute pushback to post time, Fair Grounds commenced the card with Race 3, the first of eight consecutive Claiming Crown races. The main track was sealed and sloppy throughout according to Equibase charts, although Fair Grounds announced on its broadcast feed that the main track would be rated “good” for the Jewel.

Anatolian | Hodges Photography

Wycoff's other Claiming Crown winner was Anatolian, a 4-year-old filly by Not This Time. She emerged as the strongest in a wall of late bidders (on a day when speed was not holding) to win the $150,000 Tiara for distaffers in a 1 1/16 miles off-the-turfer in 1:46.11.

Anatolian's win by 2 1/4 lengths as the 3-2 favorite was the 22nd lifetime Claiming Crown victory for trainer Mike Maker, who extended his record as the event's winningest conditioner. James Graham rode.

Anatolian met her $25,000 starter condition by only starting once that low, for a $16,000 tag when breaking her maiden back in 2022. Since then she has kept far higher company, and twice won off-the-turfers over 10 furlongs at Saratoga and Churchill as a lead-in to her Claiming Crown engagement.

Trainer Sharp also doubled on the program. The 5-1 Runway Magic (Runhappy) took the $150,000 Emerald, a 1 1/16 miles off-the-turfer, for owner Baron Racing Stables.

The 5-year-old hounded the pacemaker, took over midway on the far turn, then uncorked a long, steady drive to hold off a fresh challenger late to win by 1 1/2 lengths under Jaime Torres in 1:44.71.

Runway Magic was a former stakes competitor at age three but had swapped stables via the claim box four times since.

Claimed for $50,000 out of a 12th-place effort when previously trained by Sharp (but for a different owner) at Oaklawn Jan. 22, the gelding didn't resurface until nine months later for a $20,000 tag at Delta Downs. He ran sixth in that start, but Sharp, reclaiming with the backing of Baron Racing, gambled by taking Runway Magic back for the heavily discounted price.

That move paid off five weeks later with a next-start win in the Claiming Crown.

In the $150,000 Canterbury Tom Metzen Memorial that got washed off the grass at 5 1/2 furlongs, Mischievous Rogue (Into Mischief) closed widest with a well-timed burst to win by 3 1/2 lengths as the 17-10 favorite in 1:04.20 for owner Southern Comfort Stables, trainer William “Doug” Cowans, and jockey Luan Machado.

A 5-year-old gelding, Mischievous Rogue had spent the bulk of career (14 of 17 starts) racing on either turf or synthetic surfaces, and had never before raced on a wet track prior to showing a huge affinity for it with Saturday's convincing tally.

In the $100,000 Glass Slipper for fillies and mares at one mile, it was Chris Hartman trainees one-two across the wire with 5-year-old mare Xylophone (Tonalist) orchestrating a 3 3/4-length victory at 7-2 odds for owner Joseph Longtin and jockey Mitchell Murrill.

The 5-year-old mare circled the field and drove to the lead unopposed a furlong out, stopping the timer in 1:39.02.

Although a number of familiar names graced the Claiming Crown winner's circle in this year's renewal, the $100,000 Rapid Transit at six furlongs represented a big, breakthrough score for some less-heralded connections shipping in from FanDuel (formerly Fairmount Park).

Richiesonaroll (Gone Astray) prevailed by a neck at 15-1 odds in 1:10.64, lighting up the tote board as the Claiming Crown's highest-odds winner this year. The 3-year-old, three-time-claimed, Illinois-bred races for owner/trainer Jose G. Rodriguez, who has only been a licensed conditioner for 13 months.

The jockey for Richiesonaroll was Emmanuel (Manny) Giles, who had been badly injured in a three-horse spill at Hawthorne Race Course during his rookie season in 2021. Giles had to undergo several surgeries to repair hip and back damage, and missed 14 months of riding before getting back in the saddle earlier this season.

Caramel Chip | Hodges Photography

In the $75,000 Ready's Rocket Express at six furlongs, Caramel Chip (Midshipman) stalked from fourth and picked off the pacemakers with a three-wide swoop at top of lane to win by 3 1/2 lengths as the 2.3-1second choice in a 1:10.25 clocking.

Jose D'Angelo trains for Bianco Stable, with Florent Geroux riding.

It was the 10th lifetime victory for the 5-year-old horse, and his seventh on the season. Caramel Chip was claimed for $8,000 out of a Jan. 8 win at Gulfstream.

In the $75,000 Iron Horse Kent Sterling Memorial at 1 1/16 miles, the 11-10 favorite Time For Trouble (English Channel) wrested control in the final hundred yards and prevailed by a head in 1:46.17.

The 6-year-old gelding had started for an $8,000 claiming tag only once in his life, back in 2021. But that eligibility has enabled him to win back-to-back editions of the Iron Horse, both times over a sloppy surface.

Time For Trouble seemingly enjoyed a class edge on paper from running in Grade II and III stakes in Florida, Kentucky and New York earlier this season. Yet he made his connections, the partnership of Thorndale Stable and owner/trainer Jeff Hiles, sweat out a photo finish that was one of two wins on the day for jockey Graham.

“This is why we do what we do,” said Hiles. “Three-sixteenths pole, we thought we didn't have a shot. And the emotions that you experience that last three-sixteenths of a race, that's exactly why we're in this…The adrenaline that kicks in, the emotions–you can't buy it.”

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