Uncaptured Storm Named NHBPA Claiming Horse of the Year

Uncaptured Storm | Jim McCue/MJC

Nine-time winner Uncaptured Storm (Uncaptured)–who changed hands five times last year, winning at least once for each owner–has been selected the 2023 National Claiming Horse of the Year by the National Horsemen's Benevolent & Protective Association. The NHBPA presents the award annually to shine the spotlight on horses that are exceptional at their level of competition, with claiming horses comprising the largest segment of racing across America. Uncaptured Storm and his connections will be honored at the NHBPA annual conference to be held at Iowa's Prairie Meadows in July.

Uncaptured Storm, now four, is currently owned by Rick Burnsworth and Bush Racing Stable and trained by the Mid-Atlantic-based Anthony Farrior.

“He just brings his race with him wherever he goes,” Farrior said. “This award is terrific. It's hard to get stakes horses. But if you can claim a horse and still get a little publicity over it, that's great.”

Burnsworth, the president of Douglas Explosives, said, “He loves to win. Heart of gold. Temperament is incredible. Beautiful animal. I've played a lot of sports in my life, and he's what we call a winner.”

Uncaptured Storm won nine of 18 starts last year, with four seconds and a third while racing predominantly against older horses at Laurel Park, Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races and Timonium Race Track. All his wins and $208,726 of his $220,476 came in 2023. The nine victories tied for second-most in North America, as the gelding raced from $12,500 maiden-claiming up to $40,000 claiming to an entry-level allowance, back to $10,000 claiming and back up to $40,000.

Uncaptured Storm was claimed five times: for maiden-claiming $12,500 on Jan. 8, $10,000 on July 29, $20,000 on Sept. 8, $16,000 on Nov. 5 and $20,000 on Nov. 12. Each time he won at least once before being claimed again.

Farrior has had the gelding more than anyone, claiming Uncaptured Storm three times, including for himself at the beginning of the year. Farrior lost the horse via claim to trainer Mario Serey, Jr. and owner John Chamatsos twice, claiming him back both times for Burnsworth, who at the end of the year sold part-interest to Bush Racing Stable.

Burnsworth has dozens of horses in training, plus more on a farm he and Farrior bought near Charles Town in the lower Shenandoah Valley. He tied for seventh in victories in last year's North American owner standings with 80 wins out of 301 starts for purses exceeding $1.35 million, according to Equibase statistics. Burnsworth won another 18 races in 2023 in partnerships, including with fiancee Kristina Buyea.

Claiming accounts for about 70 % of his horse business, he said, but he does buy some young horses and he is also acquiring broodmares.

Burnsworth owned horses for several years when his toddler daughter, Kelsey, was diagnosed with leukemia. He got almost completely out of racing to concentrate on Kelsey's health, a battle the animal lover and aspiring photographer lost at age 18 in 2011 after twice seemingly beating the blood cancer.

Burnsworth said that he and Buyea, along with his former wife Jessica Burnsworth, began teaming with North Mar Church in Warren, Ohio, on an initiative called Kelsey's Angels, which assists families staying around the clock at hospitals to be with their critically ill children–an underserved need he saw first-hand.

A chance encounter with Farrior at Charles Town led to Burnsworth plunging back into racing in a big way in 2022.

“… Since Anthony and I hooked up two years ago, it's been a blast,” he said.

He added, “Kristina and I got blue silks with a white cross. These are God's creatures. He's just letting me borrow them, and I've got to treat it that way.”

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