When bread and butter harness racing horsemen contemplate parting with tens of thousands of dollars to claim a horse, little can be left to chance. Owners and trainers need to know that the prospect that they have been watching for weeks is fit and sound. Moreover, they need assurance that they will have the ability to race the horse back in timely fashion.
Such claiming opportunities are enhanced if the horsemen at the particular oval are of the highest caliber. That's even more critical at tracks in New York State where, in a cost-cutting move, the Racing Board has decided not to continue to finance the post-race drug testing of claimed horses. The opportunities are also enhanced if the track cards adequate race programs and the condition sheet is designed so as to provide ample and prompt ability to reenter in a chosen class.
At Yonkers Raceway, the presence of all of the above factors, along with a superlative overnight purse structure and a superior racing surface, combine to make the Hilltop Oval a virtual claimant's paradise.
As the midpoint of Yonkers' year 'round, 5-night-a-week racing season approaches, activity at the claiming box is nothing short of dramatic. As of the June 28th card, the 111th of the year, there have been 273 claims posted, for an average of about 2.5 claims a night. The combined claiming price of these campaigners is a whopping $6,396,875. Of course, those 273 claims do not account for situations where multiple claim slips were handed to the judges on the same horse, thus resulting in a shake.
With the Stakes season well under way, as Yonkers cards its signature event, The Yonkers Trot Triple Crown race on July 7, it's good to remember that the strength of our sport is rooted in the nightly overnight program offered at racetracks. As claiming activity is an important barometer of the strength of nightly racing programs, it's clear that Yonkers' overnight program remains second to none.
Release from the Standardbred Owners Association of New York