This weekend the Big M is carding a $7,500 claimer. In some corners of the interwebs this is like some sort of shock and awe. These "cheap" horses at the flagship track?

In reality, the Big M, surrounded by slots tracks, is doing exactly what it should be doing; carding competitive racing, while at a competitive disadvantage. And when you card competitive racing, it brings in handle.

For the low level ten claimers, the Big M has averaged about $225,000 in handle per race in 2016. Bettors want a deep field of claimers over a short field of conditioned horses, especially if the favorite is solid, and this is proven over and over again with handle.

Thoroughbred racing is a bit different because stakes racing is pretty interesting in that sport, with shippers, cutbacks or stretchouts, and horses trying better for the first time. However, the good old deep claimer holds its own there, too.

Last weekend:

GP, $6,250 claimer, 12 horses, handle $1.4 million

Tampa, $5,000 claimer, 9 horses, handle $560,000

Santa Anita, $8,000 claimer, 10 horses, $880,000

Don't discount cheap claimers, they make this sport go round. Bettors like them a lot more than you think.


Remember a few years ago at the Big A - horses were breaking down and things were looking horrible for our four-legged friends? Several actions were taken, like capping the claimer purse price, vet checks etc. A few years on, NYRA reported a 1.09 per 1,000 catastrophic death rate. That's much improved and that's good work.

It, to me, proves when the sport works together on something like this, with science and statistics to back it up, and they stick with it, good things happen.

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