Understand The Claiming Ladder and Types of Races

It can sometimes be difficult to decipher the different types of races, be they claiming, allowance, or other.

For this post, we’ll take a snapshot of the current condition book index and then explain each type of race listed there.


When you look at the index, it is easier to envision the claiming “ladder”. That is the progression of races in claiming value up and down. A horse may go up or down the claiming ladder or stay on a certain rung if they are running competitively.

The first races in the list are for maidens (horses that have never won a race):

  • M5000 – This is a maiden (M) claiming race for a $5,000 tag.
  • M5000 (WA) – This is the same race as above, but the (WA) indicates that it is restricted to horses bred in Washington.
  • M10000 – This is a maiden (M) claiming racing for a $10,000 tag.
  • M10000 (WA) – Same as above but restricted to Washington breds.
  • M25000 – Maiden (M) claiming race for a $25,000 tag.
  • MSW – Stands for “Maiden Special Weight” in which there is no claiming tag and these are horses you’d expect to continue on to “allowance” or “stakes” races.

You’ll notice that amongst these maiden races there are not as many rungs on the ladder. Value-wise there are 4 rungs: $5,000, $10,000, $25,000 and MSW.

Remember that once a horse wins one of these maiden races, they have to compete against other horses that have also won and then you begin to get more rungs on your ladder so the horses can find their competitive nook.

Next on the index are NW races which means “non-winners of”. A non-winners of 2 (NW2) for example, is the same as a horse that has only won one race.

  • C2500NW2 – Claiming (C) race for $2,500 for non-winners of 2 races (NW2)
  • C4000NW2 – Claiming (C) race for $4,000 for non-winners of 2 races (NW2)
  • C7500NW2 – Claiming race for $7,500 for non-winners of 2 races
  • C12500-10000NW2 – Claiming race (C) for a price of $12,500 OR $10,000 for non-winners of 2. As an owner, when you enter, you can determine if you want your horse to run for $10,000 or $12,500. The incentive to enter at the lower claiming price is generally a 3 lb break in the weight the horse carries.
  • C12500-10000NW3 – Same race as above, but for horses that are non-winners of 3 races. Just a note – if the horse has only won 1 race, they are still eligible for this, as is the horse that has won 2 races.
  • C25000-20000NW2 – Claiming race for a price of $25,000 OR $20,000 for non-winners of 2.

Make sense thus far?

The next bunch are the same as we’ve seen before with a small addition that is a date limitation:

C2500NW1(DATE)orNW4 – This is a claiming race (C) for $2,500 for horses that are non-winners of a race (NW1) since a certain date, or which have never won 4 races.

If we look at the full conditions of that race it says:

“For three year olds and upward which have not won a race since October 1, 2014 or which have never won four races.”

Now, we are going to skip ahead slightly to the fancy stuff:


Are you beginning to see why most owners don’t have a deep understanding of the condition book?

The above is deciphered as:


So you can see it spelled out when you go to that specific race in the condition book.

Next up are allowance races and optional claiming. These are for the better horses on the grounds that don’t have to run for the claiming tag.

  • ALWNW2/XMCorNW3or40000 – Allowance race for non-winners of two other than maiden, claiming or starter or which have never won three races or claiming price $40,000.
  • ALWNW3 – This seems easy now! Allowance for horses that have not won 3 races.
  • ALWOpt Clm $25,000 – This is the SAME race as described above in the image.
  • ALWOpt Clm $40,000 – This is the same race as described above. This is just another way of stating it.

And finally, we get to what seems very simple now, the open claiming:

  • C2500 – Claiming race (C) for $2,500
  • C3500 – Claiming race for $3,500
  • C5000-4000 – Claiming race for $5,000 OR $4,000 (with a weight break for lower price)
  • C10000-8000 – Claiming race for $10,000 OR $8,000 (with a weight break for lower price)
  • C25000 – Claiming race for $25,000
  • C25,000-22,500 – Claiming race for $25,000 – $22,500 (with weight break)

Is your mind blown yet? It all seems horribly complicated unless you think of it in terms of your horse’s career progression. And keep in mind this is an index of a three week condition book.

When a horse has a career it goes as follows:

  • Maiden
  • NW1
  • NW2
  • NW3
  • Open company.

That progression remains the same regardless of whether they run in allowance races or claiming races. The NW1, NW2, NW3 indicate a horse still has “conditions.”

Let’s say I have a horse I think is a M5000.

  • He runs for M5000 (wins)
  • Goes to C4000NW2 (wins)
  • Goes to C4000NW3 (wins)
  • Goes to C5000-4000.

And you can see all those races in the index we just covered in great detail. Just keep in mind that the condition book changes every couple weeks so this is just a general explanation using the current book as an example. Specific questions, please feel free to ask here on the blog or email emeraldracingclub@gmail.com.


WHPBA Meeting

As a licensed owner, you are automatically a member of the Washington Horsemen’s Benevolent Protection Association (HBPA).

The Washington HBPA is having their general membership & nominating meeting on Wednesday July 8:

  • 6:30 pm Reception
  • 7:00 pm Meeting – WTBOA Pavilion (Emerald Downs)
  • RSVP by July 3 to 253-804-6822 or contactus@whbpa.com

Emerald Ed

If you ever wanted to learn more about breeding and how it plays into handicapping strategies, be sure to attend our FREE Emerald Ed on Sunday, June 28 at 12 noon in the Emerald Room (4th floor).

Dir. of Media, Vince Bruun, and his special guest Chris Larmey will be going over pedigree and handicapping.

RSVP here.

Irish Day

Sunday, June 28 is also Irish Day. If you aren’t cooling off in a lake somewhere, come join us tomorrow!

Workouts Tomorrow

Tribal Waters was entered to run for Sunday, however, the race did not fill and was not used.

As a result Sharon plans to work him a 1/2 mile tomorrow morning at 6 am when the track first opens. Charlie will also work a 1/2 mile at 9 am immediately after the renovation break.

If you arrive for the early morning workouts, the main entrance gates will still be closed. You can enter via the Quarterchute Cafe and walk up the track apron.



Tribal Waters models his blinkers. Note the diamond shape cutouts that allow him to see his competition.


Blinkers are commonplace at the racetrack and are a hood with eye cups that limits the horse’s field of vision.

Horses have two types of vision; monocular and binocular. With their monocular vision, they are able to see almost completely around their body and behind them thanks to their eyes being set on the side of their head. This has been developed because they are prey animals and have to be alert to threats from predators, even with their heads down grazing. There are two blind spots – directly between their eyes, and directly behind them.


Their binocular vision allows them to focus on what is directly ahead of them. The use of blinkers in horse racing limits the horse’s monocular vision and effectively reduces what is available for them to see.

For some horses, this will cause different responses.

The added focus might help a horse break from the starting gate faster because it’s not distracted by the handlers in the gate and other horses.

It might also keep a horse that is very spooky from seeing something that it might want to shy away from.

And some horses may be reactive to seeing a rider on their back, and this then removes the rider from their field of vision.

The drawbacks of blinkers are the same as their benefits sometimes. If you restrict a horse’s field of vision, they might not see their competitor coming up next to them to challenge. Or, they might be so focused on the racetrack ahead of them, that the rider is unable to slow them or “rate” them in a race.

There are multiple types of blinkers to affect a horse’s behavior but they all work off the concept of controlling the horse’s field of vision.

Full/Half cup – most restrictive, limits the horse’s field of vision to directly ahead.


French/Quarter cup – More open so the horse can see more to the sides.


Cheaters – barely limits the horse’s field of vision.

cheater blinkers

Run-out blinkers – restricts vision on one eye to if the horse has a tendency to duck in towards the rail, or move out wide.


Screens or goggles – Cover the eye entirely but are see through. Used to protect the eye from dirt clods. You typically will see these at tracks where the kickback dirt is a problem. It is rare to see these at Emerald Downs.

The next time you go to the paddock, take a look at the different types of blinkers and see if you can successfully identify the different types. Then take a look at the horse’s running style and see if you can deduce why a trainer has them on the horse. Is it to help a speed horse break from the gate? Could the horse gawk too much at the crowds? It also is a great handicapping question when you see the notation “blinkers on” or “blinkers off” in the racing program. There is a reason for the change, what is it?


A special congratulations to Brian Allen – this week’s exercise rider of the week! In addition to exercising Stryker Phd, he is also the main exercise rider for TW and Charlie.


Tribal Waters Runs 4th, Charlie Is Back


Emerald Racing Club members in the paddock.


Sharon Ross removes the protective leg wraps from Tribal Waters.

_MG_9018 _MG_9027


Jockey Joe Steiner gets a leg up on Tribal Waters.



Tribal Waters ran a good fourth in his first start at Emerald Downs.

Full Chart is here.

To watch replays, go to emeralddowns.com>Racing>Race Replays.

In the replay for Tribal Waters you’ll see that he was running well and then the jockey appears to check strongly around the turn. Jockey Joe Steiner reported that TW started to “lug out” on the turn. We are aware that Tribal Waters has a history of this and we have him in a special bit to help him around the turn. We’ll check him out physically and then Sharon may tinker with his equipment again to give the rider more control.

Charlie Thomas Claimed Back

Charlie Thomas ran in the 9th race and finished fourth as well. He was claimed back by the Emerald Racing Club for $15,000. Chart is here.

6-14 Charlie Thomas Claim Tag

Charlie sports the red claiming tag today – in the Club’s favor.

Welcome back to the barn Charlie! He will be back in his previous stall next to Tribal Waters.

Paddock List for Sunday

Tribal Waters is running in the final race on Sunday. There has been a change to POST TIME. The final races is expected to run at approximately 7 pm, with the Indian Relay Racing Finals to follow.

Remember that section 15 in the Grandstand will accommodate you with your owner license.

The lucky folks going to the paddock are:

  • Ryan Doerfler
  • Natalia Guenther
  • Virgil Maas
  • Renee Cable
  • Jeff Sewell
  • Laren Lipscomb
  • Rick Dalzell
  • Jeff Campbell
  • Alan McEachern
  • Mark Rechkoff
  • Marilyn Holmberg
  • Loren Saintz
  • Zee Straight-Weiss
  • Curtis Soares
  • Joshua McCleary
  • Andrea Talkington

Meet at the entrance to the Paddock immediately after the running of the 9th race. One of our customer service staff will escort you into the paddock for TW’s race. Wear your lanyards in a visible place.

Happy Racing!

Tribal Waters to Run Sunday, June 14

Tribal Waters will run Sunday, June 14 in the 10th race – approximate post time 7:25 pm. He is running in a $12,500 Claiming race NW3 (non-winners of 3 races) going 6 furlongs with jockey Joe Steiner aboard. He will break from post position 6.

Here is the link to the overnight. Full entries with morning line odds will be out tomorrow.

Sunday, June 14


We do not have access to the tent for this weekend. You are on your own to find your “lucky” spot to watch the races.

A reminder that there is also free seating in the Grandstand Reserved Seat Section 15. If you require additional Will Call beyond your two guest passes please contact Dana Claxton, Horsemen’s Liaison at 253-288-7753.

Please be aware that Sunday is also the final day of the Indian Relay Racing. We will have three Indian Relay Races throughout the card and the day will be more crowded than normal.

Sunday is also the Budweiser Handicap (8th race) and will feature the return of Longacres Mile winner Stryker Phd (also trained by Larry and Sharon).


If you’d like to be placed in the random drawing to go to the paddock, RSVP by 3 pm Saturday by clicking this link and supply your name. This is for Emerald Racing Club members only. Your friends and family will have to stand on the other side of the fence and take pictures of you looking fabulous!

We will be taking 15 ERC members to the paddock and I will post the list here later Saturday night along with instructions on where to meet. If you were in the paddock last time, DO NOT RSVP. We’ll cycle through everyone first.


The Entry Process

If you were following along in the most recent condition book, you would have seen that there was a race in the condition book for Saturday, June 13 that would have suited Tribal Waters. It was Condition Book #10 and entries for Saturday were taken yesterday (Wednesday). Sharon entered Tribal Waters in Condition Book #10. However, the race only had 5 entries and was brought back today as Extra 3.

You can see from the entry board below that “Book 10” has 5 entries and the notation “back”. This means if we look at the Overnight for Saturday, June 13, we should see the same conditions as an extra race for Sunday.


Now if we look at the entry board for Sunday, June 14, we see that Extra 3 has 8 entries and is highlighted as a race to use. We can also see 10 races highlighted which means there will be 10 races on Sunday.entry2

As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email me at emeraldracingclub@gmail.com.

As a point of reference, Charlie Thomas is running in race 9 on Sunday.


What’s in a Pedigree?

At the farm tours there was a fair bit of discussion about sires (dads) and dams (moms). A horse’s family tree is referred to as it’s “Pedigree.”

Pedigree plays a significant role in racing and a horse’s propensity towards certain surfaces and distances.

While, we lost Charlie to the claim, I’ve kept his information in this blog as a point of comparison. Charlie Thomas and Tribal Waters are two horses with significantly different pedigrees.

charlie thomas_pedigree

The Sire is always on the top side of the pedigree and the dam is on the bottom. Charlie Thomas’ sire is Seeking The Dia and the dam is Champion Ride.

Seeking the dia

Seeking The Dia

Seeking The Dia won over $5 million dollars in his career and had a record of 7-9-2 from 30 career starts and was a prominent runner in Japan. He also was the leading money earner sired by Storm Cat. He stood at Hill N Dale farm in Kentucky in 2009-2010, which is when Champion Ride went to be bred in 2010, resulting in Charlie Thomas being born March 2, 2011.

Seeking the Dia’s sire is Storm Cat. One of the most influential sires in modern day.  The following came from The Blood-Horse article regarding Storm Cat’s death in 2013:

Storm Cat retired from racing in 1987 to stand at Overbrook Farm. After breeding his first book of mares in 1988 at a fee of $30,000, he spent 20 years at stud during a career that saw his fee rise to as high as $500,000.

According to Overbrook, Storm Cat sired earners of more than $127 million, eight champions, and 108 graded stakes winners including winners of the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), Belmont Stakes (gr. I), Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), and five Breeders’ Cup races. He ranked second on the all-time Breeders’ Cup sire list and was the sire of numerous European group I winners. He topped the general sire list twice, the juvenile sire list a record seven times, and was leading broodmare sire in 2012.

Of his yearlings, 462 sold at public auction for over $319 million, including 91 yearlings which brought $1 million or more. By comparison, his grandsire Northern Dancer ranked second with 52 yearlings which brought $1 million or more, according to Overbrook.

Quite an impressive sire line for Charlie!

Charlie’s dam, Champion Ride won one race in two starts and was bred by Sidney and Jenny Craig (yes, that Jenny Craig). Champion Ride’s sire is Candy Ride. Currently Candy Ride is #2 on the General Sire list in North America and stands for a stud fee of $60,000.

There’s a saying in racing that you “breed the best to the best and hope for the best.” Charlie has strong breeding on both his sire and dam side and we’ve seen it play out in his success on the racetrack.

Tribal Waters has a bit of a more modest pedigree, even though you see Storm Cat in his pedigree as well.


Tribal Waters is sired by Tribal Rule who is sired by Storm Cat. Tribal Rule could be considered more of a regional stallion and had a career record of 4 starts, 2 wins and 2 seconds. He earned $77,600 in his racing career.

Tribal Rule

Tribal Rule

Tribal Rule passed away in 2014, but according to the Daily Racing Form:

Tribal Rule was versatile at stud, finishing at or near the top of the California sire lists in multiple categories during the past several years. He also gained national notice as a prominent sire of synthetic-surface runners, finishing fourth among North American sires in that category last year and leading the synthetic list this year through May 1 with progeny earnings of over $540,000.

Tribal Rule also led the California general sire list for 2014 through May 1, with progeny earnings of over $1.68 million. His runners overall have bankrolled more than $21 million.

His leading runners include Grade 1 winner Georgie Boy, Grade 2 winners Ciao Bella Luna and Ethnic Dance, Grade 3 winners Alphie’s Bet and Tribal Spy, and Grade 1-placed Rush With Thunder.

Tribal Waters dam is Rio Tejo, who earned honors as the 2003/2004 Broodmare of the Year in California.

Rio Tejo

You can see a bit of family resemble, don’t you think?


Claiming Game

We are on the hunt for another horse for the club. Given that Larry Ross is back at Emerald Downs and isn’t in California, we will only be considering horses at Emerald Downs. We may also consider claiming Charlie back.

This decision will be left to our trainers and we will post a blog after a claim is made just like when we acquired Charlie.

Tribal Waters Update

There is currently no race for TW in the condition book for this weekend. We are continuing to look for a race for him.


A special “Good Luck” to American Pharoah in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes from the Emerald Racing Club! Go get ’em!