The second race at Del Mar today is a five-and-one-half furlong sprint for 2-year-old Maidens. All of the horses are entered for a claiming price of $30,000. In an earlier post, I delved into the reasons why I feel you should pass this race, but what happens after this race is run?
The winner is no longer a Maiden, and it will most likely race again, but if you were its trainer where would you place the horse in its next start? Novice handicappers often assume that because the horse just won a $30,000 claiming race, that the horse is capable of racing competitively in the company of $30,000 claimers. They fail to understand that a $30,000 Maiden claiming race, restricted to horses which have never won a race, and an open $30,000 claiming event do not attract the same horses.
While, on rare occasions, a horse that just won a $30,000 Maiden claiming race will win its next start in a $30,000 open claiming race it is more typical for the Maiden winner to find other horses it can compete with racing for tags of $12,500 to $20,000. Such is the nature of the game.
While the winner of today’s race will likely race again, the same cannot necessarily be said about the other entrants in the race. Many will continue to compete in Maiden claiming events until such time as they either break their Maiden or their owner’s decide the cost to keep them far exceeds their ability to help with their upkeep. It is rare that a horse will continue to race when it cannot at least pay its feed bill.
However, Zippy Chippy was one of those rare animals. He competed in 100 races over a nineteen year span and never saw the winner’s circle. In his last start, on September 10, 2004 at the Three County Fair in Northampton, Mass., he was the 2/1 favorite for awhile but eventually left the gates as the 7/2 second choice. He finished last in the eight horse field.
During his long career, Zippy Chippy finished second on eight occasions and third on twelve others, with career earnings of $30,834. From the perspective of a handicapper, your neurons have to be misfiring to wager on such a horse, but as a fan of horse racing you have to applaud the person or persons who allowed this horse to compete long after most would have sent him to the glue factory.