OZONE PARK, N.Y. – The New York Racing Association Inc. (NYRA) today announced the return of the Under 20’s Claiming Challenge for the Aqueduct winter meet. The program, launched in 2018, will begin on December 12 and again remain open to local trainers with 20 or fewer horses.
Trainers earn points based on their horses’ performances in all winners’ claiming races at Aqueduct from Thursday, December 12 through March 29, 2020. Points will be tallied and records verified on April 19, and awards will be granted thereafter. The top-eight trainers in the contest will share a prize pool of $80,000, with the winner receiving $18,000. Stall allotments for the Aqueduct winter meet will be used to determine eligible trainers.
Trainer Mertkan Kantarmaci netted the most points and the $18,000 top prize for winning the 2018/19 Under 20’s Claiming Challenge during the Aqueduct winter meet. Kantarmaci registered 97.5 points, topping second-place finisher Bruce Brown by 32.5 points. The 27-year-old Kantarmaci came to the United States in 2016 from Turkey. As a conditioner in one of the country’s most challenging circuits, Kantarmaci saddled 11 total winners in 36 starts during the Aqueduct winter meet, tying for the 11th most.
Trainer Ed Barker won the $18,000 prize for capturing the inaugural Under 20’s Claiming Challenge in the 2018 Belmont spring/summer meet.
“It’s the kind of thing we need here at NYRA for the smaller trainers,” Barker said at the time. “It works out really well and makes for good competition. The claiming end of the business is important. It helps fill the cards and we put the game on 12 months of the year. Things like the Claiming Challenge and the Starter Loyalty program are very good ideas for the both the owners and the trainers.”
The contest point structure remains the same as last year, with the 6-5-4-3-2 point scale for top-five finishes for the dirt races. Points will only be earned for top-five finishes in claiming races for winners. Winners of a qualifying race will earn six points regardless of claiming price.
There can be no more than 20 horses on a trainer’s roster at any given time, although a trainer’s stable may grow above 20 horses through claiming activity. But not all horses will eligible for the contest, and only roster horses can earn points.
A trainer may replace a claimed horse who was on their roster with another claimed horse. After a horse is claimed, it will be added to the trainer’s roster only at the trainer’s request.
Horses in for a tag in an allowance optional claiming race will qualify for contest points. Points are not earned in maiden, allowance, starter allowance or stakes races.
For additional information on the Under 20’s Claiming Challenge, please contact the Aqueduct race office at (800) 221-6266.
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
The top eight trainers in the contest will share in a prize pool of $80,000:
1st Place – $18,000
2nd Place – $15,000
3rd Place – $13,000
4th Place – $11,000
5th Place – $9,000
6th Place – $7,000
7th Place – $4,000
8th Place – $3,000
Important Dates at a Glance:
November 30, 2019 – All contest applications due no later than 3:30 p.m.
December 5, 2019 – List of eligible contest trainers posted
December 12, 2019 – Contest begins;, Aqueduct winter meet
February 24, 2020 – No additional horses may be added to earn contest points (unless replacing a claimed or injured horse)
March 29, 2020 – Contest ends; Closing day, Aqueduct winter meet
April 19, 2020 – Awards paid out