What is a claiming race in horse racing?

Claiming races are contests where every entrant is essentially up for sale for a set price.
These are some of the most common types of races and are intended to bring evenly matched fields together to create an interesting race with many possible winners. Horses that run in these races are called claimers.

Each claiming race has a price attached to it. A $32,000 claiming race, for instance, means that every horse in that race is available to be purchased for that price. Claiming races range from very cheap — $2,500 or less – to $100,0000, though most tend to be toward the lower-end of that range.

If a licensed owner decides to claim a horse from another owner and trainer, he or she will have their trainer fill out a claim slip before the race is run. If multiple claims are put in for a horse, the racing office will “shake” to determine who the new owner of the horse will be. This is done by putting numbered “pills” – each corresponding with one the owners who are trying to purchase the horse — in a bottle, then shaking it before reaching in and pulling one out.

When you claim a horse, the horse will run the race it is entered in for its current owner, who will receive any purse money it might earn. But as soon as the race is run, the new owner’s trainer will send one of his stable hands to lead the horse to its new barn.
If a horse should, God forbid, break a leg during the race, that’s tough luck for the person who put in the claim, who may have just paid $32,000 or more for a dead horse.

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