07/20/2010 12:23PM

Smarten Destiny ships in for Claiming Crown Jewel at Canterbury

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SHAKOPEE, Minn. – It was one of those out-to-dinner conversations that usually are forgotten by the next morning.

“A couple of guys I was with gave me the typical ‘We want to get into the horse business’ routine,” said Clint Glasscock, a Louisville, Ky., insurance executive with considerable experience as a horse owner. “And I said, ‘You get 20 people to put up $2,000 each, and we’ll fool with it.’”

A little more than a year later, the group known as Two Dimes Stable has become quite the worthwhile venture as Saturday’s 12th annual Claiming Crown series approaches at Canterbury Park. Smarten Destiny, just the second horse owned by what became a 36-share partnership, is one of the top contenders in the $150,000 Claiming Crown Jewel, the richest race of the six-race, $500,000 series.

“It’s been a whole lot of fun,” said Glasscock. “We really became aware of the Claiming Crown earlier this year, so this has been our main goal for quite a while now.”

The Claiming Crown, loosely modeled after the Breeders’ Cup while aiming to reward lower-profile runners, has tended to attract a remarkable variety of horses and owners from throughout North America since its 1999 inception. Fittingly, the group that Glasscock has assembled represents a broad cross-section of racing enthusiasts.

“Most of our people are from Louisville, but we’ve also got folks from Detroit, Atlanta, Chicago, St. Louis, and other places,” he said. “It’s been a great way to get people involved in the sport.”

Smarten Destiny, trained by Angel Montano, has had eight races since Two Dimes claimed him for $30,000 last November, posting two wins and two seconds while alternating between allowance and high-end claiming races. His last race on June 18 for a $50,000 tag at Churchill Downs resulted in a sharp runner-up finish going a one-turn mile that should set him up well for the 1 1/8-mile distance of the Jewel.

Smarten Destiny was one of seven horses expected to be entered. My Friend Nev, a winner of his last six starts, looks like the top threat in the Jewel and will be one of two starters in the race, along with For All Who Conga, for the Midwest Thoroughbreds syndicate and trainer Jamie Ness.

All the Claiming Crown races are run under starter-allowance conditions dating to Jan.  1, 2009, with the Jewel restricted to horses that have raced for $35,000 or less since then. The other races are the $100,000 Emerald, the $75,000 Glass Slipper, the $75,000 Rapid Transit, the $50,000 Express, and the $50,000 Iron Horse.

Midwest Thoroughbreds leads all owners with six pre-entries, while Ness leads all trainers with five. In all, 64 horses were pre-entered, although a handful already had defected as of Tuesday, including Glamour Guy from the Jewel.

TVG will have a broadcast team led by Ken Rudulph on the premises Saturday while providing live coverage of each of the six Claiming Crown races.

This is the 10th time that Canterbury will host the Claiming Crown, with Philadelphia Park (2002) and Ellis Park (2007) having been the only alternate venues. The event is jointly sponsored by Canterbury, the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, and the national Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association. Jeff Maday is in his first year as Claiming Crown coordinator, having replaced the retired Nat Wess.