By David Grening
OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Likely due in part to the anticipation of higher purses – which kick in Wednesday at Aqueduct – activity at the claim box was quite brisk through the first three weeks of the inner track meet.
In 15 days of racing from Nov. 30 through Dec. 18, there were 66 horses claimed for a total of $3.866 million. Not a day went by when at least one horse wasn’t claimed, and on six occasions six or more horses were haltered.
"I wish I had plenty of money myself, because I’d start claiming more horses," said trainer Richard Dutrow Jr., who has made three claims since the inner track opened. "It’s a good time to claim, you can make some money, even when you drop one."
Dutrow said that a couple of owners have contacted him about getting more active at the claim box when the purses started going up.
David Jacobson has been the most active at the claim box, making eight of the 66 claims so far, while getting outshook on a few others. Jacobson, who also is part owner of some of the horses he trains, said that his activity at the claim box is just the normal course of business for him.
"I’m not claiming any more or any less," Jacobson, who is 7 for 28 and tied for second in the standings, said Monday. "I’m a claiming trainer and I’m going to claim horses I think are worth claiming. Plus, I get a lot of horses claimed from me."
Jacobson said that while the purse increase is likely to keep action at the claim box strong, he noted that "it doesn’t do you any good if your horses aren’t running good."