Special Ops Extends Maker’s Claiming Crown Record With 16th Victory

Skychai Racing’s Special Ops, rebounding from a subpar effort in his previous start, came flying with a relentless run on the far outside to extend trainer Mike Maker’s record run in the Claiming Crown with a 1 ¾-length triumph in the $125,000 Emerald Saturday at Gulftream Park.

The 1 1/16-mile Emerald for 3-year-olds and which have started for $25,000 or less since Jan. 1, 2016 was the eighth of nine starter stakes worth $1.11 million on the 19th Claiming Crown Day program, which pays tribute to the horses and horsemen that provide the foundation for day-to-day racing at tracks throughout the country.

Special Ops ($16.20) hit the wire in 1:50.41 over a firm turf course for his eighth career win and third in five starts since being claimed by Maker for $50,000 over the summer at Churchill Downs. His Maker-trained stablemate, Bingo Kitten, got up late for second with Durocher third.

It was the 16th Claiming Crown victory for Maker, extending his event record, seven of them coming in the Emerald. He also won the race last year with Keystoneforvictory, owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, who were blanked on the afternoon.


A bay son of 2008 Florida Derby (G1) winner Big Brown, Special Ops entered the Emerald off a fifth-place finish in his previous effort, an open 1 1/16-mile allowance Oct. 15 at Keeneland that followed back-to-back wins including the West Virginia Speaker’s Cup at Mountaineer.

“It’s taken all day for it to come together, but better late than never,” Maker said. “I was expecting that from him last time. He got a little sick after that race so it was a throwout race. He showed up again today.”

Special Ops was unhurried racing in eighth under jockey Julien Leparoux while 2-1 favorite Black Tide led through an opening quarter-mile in 24.64 seconds. Special Ops was still in seventh when 99-1 long shot Laythatpistoldown took over the lead after a half in 50.76 before Leparoux gave the 6-year-old gelding his cue leaving the backstretch. Given clear run on the far outside, Special Ops began rolling around the far turn and steadily gained ground down the stretch to reach the front in the final sixteenth and pull clear.

“We got bounced around leaving the gate but he settled nice for me and traveled good around the track,” Leparoux said. “On the second turn I got him outside in the clear to make a move and he won pretty easy.”

The post Special Ops Extends Maker’s Claiming Crown Record With 16th Victory appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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