The Dreaded Red Tag

Charlie Thomas ran a game race to finish 5th today. Here is the link to his chart if you can’t read the image below. And the link to his replay is here. (Select May 30, race 8).Chart_Charlie_5-30-15

Charlie broke slowly, and then tracked in last before making a mild run at the leaders to finish 5th. From the Value of the Race noted above we earned $372 for the finish.

While Charlie gave a good effort, he appeared to be “climbing” which means his legs were reaching up, instead of extending out in a smooth stride. His head was also high, instead of stretched low to run indicating he wasn’t 100% comfortable. Compared to his workout last week in which he lowered his head and ran smoothly, today he seemed to be bothered – perhaps by the dirt in his face, or the shorter distance of the race.

Upon returning to be unsaddled, Charlie received the dreaded “red tag” meaning he had been claimed.

The red claiming tag hangs from Charlie's bridle.

The red claiming tag hangs from Charlie’s bridle.

On the chart above you can see it reads:

1 Claimed Horse: Charlie Thomas

New Trainer: Frank Lucarelli

New Owner: Sabers Drawn Racing

Sabers Drawn Racing is Scott Centers and William “Andy” Evans – who also race The Bear Clan horses.

Immediately after the race, Charlie was taken to the test barn where the groom from Frank Lucarelli’s barn put a halter on him and led him to a stall in his new barn. The $15,000 claiming price was deposited in the Emerald Racing Club account.

Given that we claimed him for $10,000, that is a nice gain and is the risk you run when running in claiming races. We acquired him by claim, and lost him by claim. So goes the claiming game.

Hilary got some great photos of Charlie throughout his effort.

_MG_8551 _MG_8560 _MG_8573 _MG_8577 _MG_8588 _MG_8603 _MG_8630

Thank you to all of you that stood and applauded Charlie’s effort. That is a sign of great respect for these wonderful athletes that take us to the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.

Additional photos here.







61 thoughts on “The Dreaded Red Tag

    • In my opinion it was a good effort by Charlie considering he much prefers a longer distance. I think at this level he will easily win at a mile or more and I am sad he was claimed. Not well sold. Haha πŸ˜‰ I look forward to watching his future races and rooting him on. Even if I don’t appreciate his new owners. πŸ˜‰

      • My guess is that Luke will have to run him long and for 10 to win with him. He isn’t exactly a win machine having only three life time victories.

  1. Well that sucks he got claimed but we have to remember it is just business, nothing personal, at least i was able to meet him a few weeks ago. I want to throw up some suggestions just in case anyone wants to start ideas on the near future? I think it would be fun to try and claim a 5k or 7,500 maiden horse so we could potentially have a first win to look forward to as a fun little story line. I’m also biased towards gray horses and i think it would be awesome to have one, there’s my two cents.

    • Great question Jeff. Given that the racing season is under way at Emerald, and our main eyes in California was Larry Ross (who is back at Emerald now), we’d consider claiming here. We had an unwritten rule that as long as no one claimed from us here, we wouldn’t claim off others. And everyone was great last year letting the Club members learn. But given our timeline and hope to get the Club to the Winner’s Circle, we can consider all options.

      • Being a business and all and the fact that everyone was so awesome about not claiming Dancing Yodeler last year. My vote would be that we counter and turn the favor on Frank Lucarelli and his connections and claim 2 of their horses. I do understand that its a business but when a gentleman’s agreement is in a place and its discarded its easy to see that someone isn’t interested in being known as a gentleman.

        It seems to me that the club is in pretty good financial shape and we should be able to come out swinging and hopefully send a message protecting our horses for the remainder of the year.

      • You don”t claim to get even. You claim hoping the horse you claim is worth their claiming price. Plus Frank has a barn full of horses he doesn’t care if you claim a couple.

  2. Question when I watch live races from California every now and then a white or light yellow tag is put on a horse. Can anyone tell me what that means?


    • If you mean in the true sense of going out and wowing everyone, I agree, because I want to see Charlie do well, even if the club no longer owns him. He’s a nice horse, even if he didn’t get the job done yesterday.Maybe he prefers a mile distance, or it could have been something else. I had the feeling all last week that he would win his race,but that he would also be claimed. I know it happens, is part of the sport, but it was still a punch in the gut when it happened. I hoped it wouldn’t happen in our first race, but, now that it has, in a sense we could say that the club has “broken its maiden” and we just move on, and look for another horse to cheer for. Larry’s discerning eye will no doubt find him or her, and we can get excited all over again for the newcomer–not to mention cheering for Tribal Waters in his first race for us.


      • Yes I agree with Lauren. We wish only the best for Charlie. He is an amazing horse and I am sure TW will get us to the winners circle.

  3. That was a shocker for sure to see charlie claimed! Disappointing but a good learning experience which is why the club is a great opportunity to get a feel for owning a horse! I think we should keep an eye out for dare me devil in the 8th race tomorrow!

    • I like Stikine Slough in the 7’th race on Sunday. I can’t wait to see how the Club and the Ross’ move to replace Charlie. It should be exciting and educational.

    • DMD’s claim price is $22.5K, so maybe a little high in price. But he’s a good horse, won five of his ten races last year, and his only race this year.

      • Stikine Slough is in a 7,500 claimer race today, dropping i believe. I don’t like Stikine at over 6 furlongs though, speedball. Will be fun to see if the drop helps for a victory. I say we just claim Yodeler back, stick it to Left Coast, haha just kidding!

      • Haha they don’t have any on this site. I made an error though i didn’t realize Yodeler was claimed this season after his first race, oops sorry Left Coast. I’m all for claiming stikine as long as we don’t race that horse over 6 furlongs, haha. Otherwise i’d rather have Carl Command, but that is just me.

      • Carl Command is a great looking horse. I do hope we drop a claim on him.

      • Can your horse be claimed even if it wins? I always thought that there was some type of protection from being claimed if the horse did well. Not that that effected Charley Saturday.

      • Hi Michael,

        If someone drops a claim on your horse, the only thing that would keep the claim from going through is if the horse gets scratched on post parade or at the gate.

      • You have to put in the claim 15 minutes before the race starts, the only way you don’t get the claim is if the horse is scratched at the gate or is a non starter. If you horse races and breaks a leg, it is still yours!

      • Does it occasionally occur as its rumored to at other tracks that some late scratches are atributed to the trainer being tipped off by the paddock steward of a claim being placed on a particular horse, If so why didn’t this happen here other than I’d assume it’s against the rules?

      • Hi Shane,

        The claiming box is in the paddock so it’s general knowledge if a claim is dropped, you just don’t know who it was for. While there is much speculation regarding situations like you mentioned, the truth is that you acknowledge the risk of losing your horse when you run in a claiming race and 80% of races are claiming races. While we regret that Charlie was claimed, he’s in a claiming race and that’s part of the game. We need to remember that this is how we acquired him for the Club.

  4. The Emerald Racing Club horses do get sold at the end of the racing season if they do not get claimed and one of our options was not to sell them to the future racing club; unfortunately, we lost one of our horses only after one race. The good news is that Charlie Thomas has a home!

    • Last year’s horse, Dancing Yodeler, got claimed after his first race this year (which makes you wonder if the club’s horse’s have a bull’s-eye on them, which I don’t really believe). He’s in the 10th race today for his new owners.


      • I think we should claim Dancing Yodeler back this afternoon in the 10th race at 7.5k. A proven winner at ED, and we are still ahead on the deal. I assume we are no longer honoring the “gentleman’s agreement” either.

      • The deal is you let someone else pay all the expense of of getting him ready for the year and then drop a claim. Say you claim a horse for 10,000 on their first start of the year and run him back for 8,000 and win you are way ahead of the game.

  5. Question for Sophia: I noticed that Charlie was making an odd sort of clicking sound when he was being saddled in the paddock for his race. Couldn’t tell if it was something to do with his equipment, or the horse himself. Can you tell us what that might have been?


      • Thanks Sophia. Odd that i never noticed a horse do that before. In humans it’s usually a sign of stress, but I don’t know if that holds true for horses. Maybe Charlie was trying to tell us something?

  6. We had a fabulous time watching Charley run and wish him well. The day was our first at Emerald Downs with the club and we had a ball.

    • I agree it was a lot of fun. And we found out just what it’s like to be a race horse owner. The good AND the bad. Good luck Charlie Thomas!

  7. I know that it is an honor and privilege to be a part of a racehorse’s career. I do miss them though when they leave!

    • We actually watched Carl Command win the Lethal Grande championship this past December on Oregon championship day. Jennifer Whitaker was the winning Jockey and she gave my son a set of goggles from her winning ride. Carl Command might be the only claim that could quell my sons tears over Charlie being claimed. Lethal Grande is a perfect reminder of how great a sprinter horse can be and also a sobering reminder of how devastating catastrophe can strike at anytime and as long as all horses finish safely then we should call it a fine day.

      • Well he just won again easily. I have not heard the announcer say that there was a claim on him. Sure wish we would have.

  8. Ah, Charlie….we hardly knew ye. He is a fine horse and, I believe, has great potential. He’s got that certain something that some horses have. I didn’t bet on him yesterday because he just did not look “right” before the race. He looked off, nervous, distracted or just not happy. He did definitely look he didn’t want to be there. Watch him next time out!

    • Jan, see Sophia’s answer above to my question about the sound I heard Charlie making while being saddled. Maybe something, maybe nothing, but interesting that you felt he did not look right.

      • Hi Lauren and Jan,

        Charlie looked fantastic in the paddock pre race and many racehorses grind their teeth. It’s relatively common and you’ll likely notice it more now that you know what it is.

  9. I’m sorry to see Charlie go but I take it as a compliment to Larry’s eye & instincts that our horse just got bought for 150% of what we paid for him. Run well & stay healthy CT (but get ready to eat Tribe’s dirt.) πŸ™‚

  10. Sophia, most of the conversations about claiming have looked at Golden Gate as a likely source. Given the “jail rule”, are Portland Meadows or Hastings in Vancouver options? Are the horses at those tracks considered to be of equal talent as those at ED or do tracks in a region sort themselves into different tiers?

    • Hi Debra,

      Portland Meadows is not running now. They will start up in the fall after Emerald has finished it’s season. Hastings is not a good alternative because they race on a “bullring”, which is a 5/8 mile track. Emerald Downs is a mile and many horses don’t make the adjustment well between both. With Hastings, the cross border requirements also make it a challenge.

  11. Also, given that Sharon & Larry train for other stables, what’s the etiquette around that? It’s probably not cool to claim a horse from within the same barn, is it?

  12. I wanted to first compliment Sharon and her crew for giving excellent care to and preparing Charlie for his race. I would be surprised if he had another off race. Any chance of claiming him back? Might send something of a message in addition to bringing him back to the club. Also wanted to know if the trouble in loading the gate might have bothered him as he got such a poor start particularly since he seemed a little out of sorts pre race. Although I was initially deflated, I’ve come around to realize that this is all part of horse racing. Winning wouldn’t be so exciting without reference. The experience in the paddock was brilliant.

    • Hi Jay,

      We would definitely consider claiming Charlie back given the right circumstances. He also hadn’t run in nearly two months. He looked great before the race and 6 1/2 furlongs is not his ideal distance. The time in the gate could have certainly played a role in his sluggish start. I spoke to his previous owners and they said he always broke sharp going further than a mile but in short races he couldn’t seem to make it out quick.

      • We’ll want to get another horse as soon as possible, so that we can have twice the fun, and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that Larry is already looking at prospects. It’s nice to think that we might re-claim Charlie, but if we do, it’s probably a good idea to enter him in only mile races, where he seems to do his best. I’ve noticed over the years that there are more mile races available as the meet goes on and horses work up to running the longer distance.

        I can appreciate that Charlie might have been entered into this particular, shorter race to get a race in him after being off the track for a month and a half, and because we all were eager to see him run. While Charlie did not win this race, his loss still has value because it taught us new owners a lesson, that you can’t hurry the process and get the optimal outcome. I have no criticism of our trainers in saying this, it’s just something for us as owners to keep in mind going forward.

        Peter Filipovich wrote a book back in 1994 about claiming horses for fun and profit, and it’s got a lot of great info, written in a straightforward style for people wanting to get into the game, about the entire process. I think the Gift Horse at the track sells copies. (I have no connection to Filipovich, just thought his book was excellent.)

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