Kantarmaci In Familiar Spot Atop NYRA’s ‘Under 20s Claiming Challenge’ For Small Stables

Trainer Mertkan Kantarmaci has won three consecutive titles in NYRA’s “Under 20s Claiming Challenge” and is on track to continue that success during the current winter meet at Aqueduct Racetrack in Ozone Park, N.Y.

The “Under 20s Claiming Challenge,” launched in 2018, is open to local trainers with 20 or fewer horses nationwide. The current challenge launched on December 10, Opening Day of the 56-day winter meet, and will continue through the end of the 11-day Big A spring meet set to run April 1 to April 18

In the unique contest, trainers earn points based on their horses’ performances in winners’ claiming races on the main track. Through January 7, the 29-year-old Kantarmaci leads all trainers with 34 points, with Antonio Arriaga and A.C. Avila tied for second with 14 points.

Kantarmaci tied with Eddie Barker for last year’s contest during the Big A’s winter meet after being the standalone winner of the challenge during the 2018-19 winter meet and the 2019 Belmont Park spring/summer meet.

“Every year we always try to get better horses. We always try to level up,” Kantarmaci said. “We’ll watch race replays before we consider claiming a horse so we know what we’re looking at. The Under 20s is a great program because it encourages trainers at this level to make sure they’re always looking for nice horses.”

The Turkish born conditioner, who has 20 horses in his barn on the Belmont backstretch, boasts a consistent 19-4-2-5 record at the winter meet, finishing on the board at a 58 percent clip.

“These kinds of horses all have their own abilities,” Kantarmaci said. “When they are feeing good and happy, they’ll give one hundred percent. The last couple of days our horses have ran their heart out.”

One of the barn’s top performers is Krakow Racing’s Reed Kan, a 6-year-old Kantharos ridgling who led at every point of call to win for a $40,000 tag on January 15 going six furlongs.

Since being claimed in October 2018, Reed Kan has won five of his 11 starts for the Kantarmaci barn, including three of his last four outings.

“Reed Kan is a good example of that heart,” Kantarmaci said. “He ran [fifth] in March and was ready to go until we had the pandemic and couldn’t race. The time off helped him. He came back in June and won at Belmont and then won again in July. I think he’ll run even better when he runs back next time.”

Krakow Racing and America’s Pastime Racing’s Mi Tres Por Ciento gave Kantarmaci his first triumph of the meet for a $62,500 tag in a December 19 optional claiming event going 6 ½ furlongs in his first start for new connections. The Chilean-bred Ocean Terrace chestnut gelding will race back on Monday at the Big A in a six furlong optional claiming event but will not run for a tag this time.

Kantarmaci noted that paying attention to the little details is important when trying to improve his stock.

“He had some problems when I started training him, but it didn’t take long to figure out what he needed,” Kantarmaci said of Mi Tres Por Ciento. “The biggest thing with him was his training. He’s kind of a nervous horse and a bit aggressive in the mornings, so we changed things up so he wasn’t as stressed.

On Saturday, Kantarmaci visited the Big A winner’s circle with veteran mare Jump for Joy, who commanded a gate-to-wire victory in a first level allowance event going six furlongs over a muddy and sealed main track. The 8-year-old Jump Start mare, who earned a career-best 85 Beyer Speed Figure, has been a model of consistency having finished in the money in eight of her last nine starts since adding blinkers.

“She looks better than two years ago when I first got her,” Kantarmaci said. “We claimed her for $40,000 and she’s never given us a bad start. We just needed to find out what she likes and what she doesn’t like. Every time we try getting to know her a little bit better she gives us a better effort. We just needed to figure out what training is best suited for her and how to space her races out. It’s all about understanding her language.”

Kantarmaci noted her affinity for the wet track, as she boasts a 13-4-5-1 record when contesting over a sloppy going.

“She’ll run over any track but she’s a little better in the slop,” Kantarmaci said. “I like this mare. She’s up there in age and we’ll let her tell us where her next start will be. I think she would be competitive in the next condition.”

Kantarmaci has two runners entered for Monday’s program. In addition to Mi Tres Por Ciento [Race 6, Benjamin Hernandez, 7-2], he also will saddle Dust Devil [Race 2, Kendrick Carmouche, 2-1], haltered last out for $25,000, in a one-turn claiming mile.

Contest Point Structure:
Dirt Races – All claiming races for winners, including horses in for an optional tag:
1st Place – 6 points
2nd Place – 5 points
3rd Place – 4 points
4th Place – 3 points
5th Place – 2 points

Trainer Bonuses:
The top-eight trainers in the contest will share in a prize pool of $80,000:
1st Place – $16,000
2nd Place – $14,000
3rd Place – $12,000
4th Place – $11,000
5th Place – $9,000
6th Place – $7,000
7th Place – $6,000
8th Place – $5,000

The post Kantarmaci In Familiar Spot Atop NYRA’s ‘Under 20s Claiming Challenge’ For Small Stables appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

DYFD Winter - 300x90

Comments are closed.