Updated on 09/15/2011 12:45PM

Sing Because wins for Englander


SHAKOPEE, Minn. - Sing Because capped another memorable afternoon at the Claiming Crown for owner Richard Englander when he rolled to a convincing victory in the $141,000 Claiming Crown Jewel, richest of the six-race series run Saturday at Canterbury Park.

For the second straight year, trainer Scott Lake won two Claiming Crown races, although none for Englander, his main client.

Nick Canani is the trainer of Sing Because, who was stretching out from sprints in California. He tracked the early pace under Jose Valdivia before drawing off to a 3 1/2-length triumph. He finished 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.74 over a fast track and returned $4.40 as the favorite in a field of eight.

Halo Kris, a 40-1 shot, finished second on a day when longshot runners filled out many of the Claiming Crown exotics.

"We always say we even love winning a $5,000 race at Charles Town," said Englander. "But to win this last race was really gratifying."

Before an ontrack crowd of 8,078, and amid very hot and humid conditions, Power of Humor took the early lead in the Jewel but could never shake Five Straight. At the half-mile pole, Five Straight opened a comfortable lead, but he had no response when Sing Because came rolling late on the turn.

Banner Salute rallied late to narrowly grab third from Five Straight, 3 3/4 lengths behind Halo Kris. Then came Barrister, Two Way Streak, Power of Humor, and Connecting Terms. Eve's Troupe was an early scratch.

"He's a big, long-striding horse," said Canani of Sing Because. "He tried routing a few years ago. He's just an honest horse. He's 8 and he knows what he's doing. He knows where the wire is."

The victory perpetuated a sensational weekend for Valdivia, who rode a career-high four winners at Del Mar on Friday.

All races in the Claiming Crown, which is scheduled to move next year to another track before returning to Canterbury in 2003, are run under starter-allowance conditions. For the Jewel, horses must have raced for a $25,000 claiming tag within the last year.


In perhaps the most exciting finish of the day, Al's Dearly Bred ($13.40) closed resolutely along the rail to win the only turf race of the series, the $121,250 Emerald.

Seth Martinez rode the winner for owner John Castro and trainer Hugh Robertson. Well back early after favored Dignitas Dancer got caught up contesting a fast early pace, Al's Dearly Bred, a 4-year-old Waquoit colt, was one of several horses to come flying down the lane. He finished a head before Metatonia, with Concielo another three-quarters of a length back in third in a field of 11.

Robertson, based in Chicago, was not present. His son Matt, who oversees his father's Canterbury string, saddled Al's Dearly Bred, who has won five of 14 lifetime starts.

Al's Dearly bred finished 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.22 over firm turf.

Rapid Transit

Sassy Hound ($6.80) got a great trip under Mark Johnston, stalking a quick early pace before drawing off to win the $99,000 Rapid Transit by 4 3/4 lengths over Crowns Runner, a 16-1 shot.

Sassy Hound is owned by Toby Roth, a former U.S. representative from Wisconsin. The 4-year-old Maryland-bred colt, now a winner in nine of 17 starts, is trained by Ben Feliciano Jr. He finished 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:16.18.

"He was so tough in the post parade," said Johnston. "I told Benny I was looking forward to this because even though I'd never ridden him, I knew him real well because he'd beaten me so many times before."

Feliciano said he was "nervous all week about this. I really was hoping to win it."

Exert, a 123-1 shot, finished third to end a trifecta worth $2,629.40.

Sonofaqueen, the 8-5 favorite for Lake, bore out when tiring late in the turn and finished last of 13.

Glass Slipper

French Teacher ($9.80) immediately shot to the lead and went on to dominate the $74,250 Glass Slipper, winning by 6 1/2 lengths under Johnston.

Beauty's Due, a 56-1 shot, did all the chasing to finish second, 2 1/2 lengths before Lost Judgement in a field of 13. Lady Di Huntley, the 3-2 favorite, finished eighth. The Glass Slipper was the only Crown event limited to fillies and mares.

French Teacher, based in Maryland for Lake, finished in 1:16.68 for 6 1/2 furlongs. She is a 5-year-old by Robin des Pins.

"I just let her roll," said Johnston. "Scott and his crew did a great job getting her ready for this."


The Maccabee ($2.60), the heaviest favorite in the series, made the lead soon after the start under Jose Flores and went on to easily capture the $48,000 Express, finishing in 1:09.68 for six furlongs.

The 9 1/4-length win margin was the largest in Claiming Crown history.

"He's on his game right now," said Lake, who trains the 5-year-old gelding for Leo Gaspari.

Lord of Time chased The Maccabee and finished second, followed by Tyee and Hot Affair.

Iron Horse

The series opened with an upset when Secret Squall ($22.80), a 6-year-old gelding trained by Pat Cuccurullo and ridden by Luis Quinonez, rallied up the rail to win the $49,500 Iron Horse. Home a Winner, a 47-1 shot, also rallied and finished second, ending a $622.80 exacta. Bellwether, the 9-5 favorite for Lake, faded to sixth.

for the Claiming Crown Jewel chart.*

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