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On-Track Handle Up 36% & 13% Overall for Gulfstream's Claiming Crown

Handle during Gulfstream Park's Claiming Crown Day was up 36 percent on-track and 13.1 percent overall over last year's event.

Just over $10m was wagered on Saturday's Claiming Crown program compared to $8.8 million in 2013-2014.

"Being up over 10 percent from last year without the Mid-Atlantic is huge," said Gulfstream Park's Vice President of Racing and General Manager P.J. Campo. "It was a great day and we had a great crowd. We're disappointed for our customers in the Mid-Atlantic who were not able to wager on such a great card because we were willing to show our signal even during these negotiations."

Gulfstream resumes its Championship Meet Sunday with a 12:35 p.m. post time and the running of the $50,000 Aventura Handicap.

Catholic Cowboy’s race is a highlight of the day

Nick Zito is best known to Gulfstream Park fans as a trainer of Kentucky Derby winners, but the Hall of Fame trainer was the King of the Claimers Saturday for the second year in a row.       

Zito saddled Catholic Cowboy for a 17-1 upset victory in the $200,000 Jewel, the grand finale of Saturday’s eight-stakes $1 million Claiming Crown on Opening Day of the 2014-2015 Championship Meet. Last year, the Brooklyn native visited the winner’s circle with Nevada Kid after his victory in the Jewel, a 1 1/8-mile stakes for horses that started for a claiming price of $35,000 or less since Jan. 1, 2013.

“What I need to do is try to win another Kentucky Derby,” said Zito, who trained Kentucky Derby winners Strike the Gold (1991) and Go for Gin (1994). “But at the end of the day, if this is what the Good Lord wants, and I can win these things every year, it’s not so bad.”

Catholic Cowboy’s victory brought down the curtain of yet another highly successful Claiming Crown renewal at Gulfstream Park. The on-track handle for Saturday’s 10-race program soared 36 percent from last year’s figures, while the all-sources handle got a 13-percent boost. A total of $10.060 million was wagered on the card, up from $8.8 million.

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