12/01/2016 12:06PM

Maker has two good shots in Claiming Crown Canterbury

Jack Coady/Coady Photography
American Sailor will probably be firing out for the lead in the Claiming Crown Canterbury on Saturday.

Mike Maker is the all-time winningest trainer in Claiming Crown history, and he has nine entrants in the 18th running of the so-called blue-collar championships Saturday at Gulfstream Park. Two of them will start side-by-side as major contenders in the $110,000 Claiming Crown Canterbury.

Partly Mocha, an allowance winner just 10 days ago at Churchill Downs, will break from post 7 under Julien Leparoux in the Canterbury, a five-furlong dash for 3-year-olds and up that drew 13 horses, including one main-track-only designee. Right alongside Partly Mocha in post 6 is his Maker stablemate Creaky Cricket, who will have Jose Ortiz aboard in his first start since being claimed four weeks ago.

:: CLAIMING CROWN: Get PPs, watch Saturday's card live

Maker’s former assistant Joe Sharp has a speedy threat in American Sailor, who will be scooting out early from post 3 with Corey Lanerie up. American Sailor was a gate-to-wire winner of a Preview Day turf sprint at Laurel Park, earning a career-high 88 Beyer Speed Figure.

Other potential factors in a well-matched group include Fast Flying Rumor, who posted a 108 Beyer early this year; Rivzinthehouse, a winner of 11 of 21 career starts; Super Spender, a rallying winner of a Preview Day turf sprint at Gulfstream West; and Doctor J Dub, the 23-1 winner of the Grade 3 Turf Monster at Parx on Labor Day.

The Canterbury was added to the Claiming Crown program several years ago to honor the original series host, Canterbury Park in Minnesota. It goes as race 8 at 3:32 p.m. Eastern.

Distaff Dash quite a puzzle

As if there aren’t enough variables involved in handicapping the Claiming Crown races, there’s the occasional horse entered off a substantial layoff.

Cases in point: Forest Funds and Eila in the $110,000 Claiming Crown Distaff Dash, which goes as race 3 and is the first of nine straight Claiming Crown events. Post time for the Distaff Dash is 1 p.m.

Forest Funds, trained by Jorge Navarro, had been a regular participant in the turf-sprint stakes ranks along the East Coast but has not raced since finishing fifth in the Blue Sparkler on Aug. 14 at Monmouth Park. All else being equal, given her proven class and $269,368 bankroll, the Florida-bred mare figures as a major consideration among the 11 fillies and mares in this five-furlong turf race.

Eila, one of two entrants in here for trainer Ralph Nicks (with Lady Coventry), has been away even longer. She won a May 4 off-the-turf allowance at Gulfstream in her last start, but it was back-to-back romps over the local turf course prior to that outing that makes her a danger here.

For a horse with more recency, there’s the 6-year-old gray mare Spectacular Me, whose earnings of $410,734 are the most in the field. Trained by Steve Klesaris, she has rounded back to peak form and most recently was an emphatic winner on the Nov. 6 Preview Day at Laurel Park. With Jose Ortiz picking up the mount, she could come a slight favorite in a typically deep lineup.

This is the second running of the Distaff Dash, which like the Canterbury is run under $25,000 starter conditions.