Claim races allow all horses to be purchased at a set price before the race, making it a level playing field. Inconsistent skill levels make it exciting to watch and difficult to bet on, but it can be an opportunity for smart buyers to purchase undervalued horses. Seabiscuit is an example of a successful claim race purchase.
Horse racing is a sport for gamblers, adrenaline junkies and horse enthusiasts. The thrill of stamping hooves on the dirt is enough to make almost anyone stand up and scream for their favorite pony. There are many different types of races, each with specific goals that improve the race and influence betting styles and behavior. In a claim race, all running horses are available for purchase at a predetermined price up until a few minutes before the race begins. Regardless of how the horse behaves, it belongs to the claimant as soon as the money is paid.
A winning game is primarily about creating a relatively level playing field. Since the horses are all offered for sale, it’s reasonable to assume that few, if any, are the pride of any stable. The fact that all horses in a claimed race are for sale discourages owners from entering higher quality horses into the race to win an easy prize. While a fantastic horse will likely win the purse, it will also likely be bought for below value.
Because a race that claims horses boasts inconsistent skill, it can be quite exciting to watch. Horses in a claiming competition may not be fully trained, or may suffer from a certain temperament or form roughness. This means that a claiming race can truly be anyone’s game. In a tight field, it’s entirely possible for the fringe player to have a good day and the fringe favorite to have a bad day.
Betting on a race is considered quite risky, as horses typically have similar abilities and a higher-than-usual likelihood of inconsistency in their performance. The best experts often study each horse’s background carefully, even looking at previous performance records to help determine which horse is best suited for the track and whether any have always outperformed the class. Casual bettors may consider a winning race a shot in the dark; if all horses have similar abilities, luck may be more important than knowledge.
A claim race can be a good way for stables to rid themselves of stranger horses or those they don’t believe will make great runners. However, it can also be an opportunity for smart buyers to buy horses on the cheap that simply haven’t adjusted well with previous trainers or have yet matured into fine racehorses. The famous racehorse Seabiscuit, after winning a pathetic five out of 35 races, was bought by Charles and Marcella Howard after one winning race. After proper training by veteran Tom Smith and talented jockey Red Pollard, Seabiscuit has become one of the most celebrated racehorses of all time.