The King Cheek
The King Cheek and jockey Jaime Rodriguez won the Sir Barton Stakes. Photo by Cynthia Longo.

Ranking among the overall leaders among both trainers and owners in Maryland this year, Jamie Ness will be well-represented when Laurel Park hosts Claiming Crown Preview Day Sunday, Oct. 10.

Ness, who turns 47 Oct. 29, has five horses entered in four of the five Preview races on the eight-race card. First-race post time is 12:40 p.m.

Preview race winners will earn an automatic berth to the 23rd Claiming Crown being held for the 10th consecutive year in December at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla., and will also receive $2,500 toward shipping costs.

Created by the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association in partnership with the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, the Claiming Crown rewards and pays tribute to the horses and horsemen that provide the foundation for day-to-day racing programs at tracks around the country.

This year in Maryland, Ness has 32 wins as a trainer to tie for sixth overall and his Jagger Inc. operation is tied for fourth among owners with 13 wins. The career winner of more than 3,400 races is the runaway leader in the trainer standings at both Delaware Park and Parx meets and 5-for-16 at Laurel’s fall stand, good for fourth.

Race 2 is the six-furlong Claiming Crown Express Preview for 3-year-olds and up that have started for a claiming price of $8,000 or less in 2020-2021. The field of seven includes Morris E. Kernan Jr., Yo Berbs and Jagger’s Sevier, a 17-time winner from 46 career starts with earnings of more than $460,000. The 7-year-old gelding has won two straight, six of seven and eight of 10 this year.

The Claiming Crown Canterbury Preview for 3-year-olds and up that have started for a claiming price of $25,000 or less in 2020-2021 sprinting 5 ½ furlongs on the Exceller turf course drew six horses including Ness owned-and-trained Noble Commander, a two-time stakes winner on dirt that exits a runner-up finish in a Sept. 11 optional claiming allowance at Laurel at 5 ½ furlongs in only his second lifetime try on grass. Also entered is Belgrano, whose two stakes wins have come at the distance including the Rainbow Heir last out Aug. 28 at Monmouth Park.

Ness co-owns the entry of The King Cheek and Seanow in Race 6, the Claiming Crown Rapid Transit Preview going seven furlongs for 3-year-olds and up that have started for a claiming price of $16,000 or less in 2020-21. The King Cheek beat Bob Baffert-trained favorite Hozier in the 1 1/16-mile Sir Barton May 15 at historic Pimlico Race Course and since has run second in the Penn Mile (G3) and Smarty Jones (G3). He is cross-entered in a starter allowance Saturday at Delaware Park. Seanow is a 10-time winner from 23 starts including 8-1-3 in 16 races on dirt.

Kernan, Berbs and Ness’ You Must Chill figures prominently in Race 7, the Claiming Crown Emerald Preview for 3-year-olds and up that have started for a claiming price of $25,000 or less in 2020-2021 scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on the Exceller. The 5-year-old gelding has won five of six starts dating back to last March and is three-for-four this year with two straight wins including the Alphabet Soup Handicap Sept. 25 at Parx.

Also in the Emerald are Posterity, fourth in the Baltimore-Washington International Turf Cup (G3) this year; English Tavern, by champion English Channel who exits a last-to-first allowance win Sept. 25 at Laurel; Clint Maroon, winner of the 2019 Woodhaven at Aqueduct; and multiple graded-stakes placed Just Whistle, who made his last three starts on grass after 19 on the dirt including a win in the 2020 Sunday Silence at Gulfstream Park.

Claudio Gonzalez, leading all Maryland trainers in wins (81) and purses earned ($2.5 million) this year, is the state’s four-time overall training champion and just two away from 1,000 career victories. In the Express Preview he entered Danny Chen’s Getoffmyback, a 15-time winner of more than $416,000 in purses racing first time for Gonzalez after being claimed for $12,500 out of a Sept. 25 victory at Monmouth.

Gonzalez also entered the pair of Money Ride and Rookie Salsa in the Rapid Transit Preview. Money Ride owns seven career wins and is also racing first off the claim for Chen and Gonzalez following a fifth-place effort Sept. 21 at Monmouth. Magic Stable’s Rookie Salsa won the 2019 Kentucky Juvenile in his second career start following a maiden triumph at Laurel and most recently captured a seven-furlong optional claiming allowance Oct. 1 at Charles Town.

A field of 11 including main-track-only Bluefield was entered in Race 5, the Claiming Crown Distaff Dash Preview for fillies and mares 3 and up that have started for a claiming price of $25,000 or less in 2020-2021 sprinting 5 ½ furlongs on the Bowl Game turf course. Among the horses is Ray Pennington III’s Unaquoi, a stakes winner with 11 victories from 52 career starts that ran second in the Distaff Dash at Gulfstream each of the past three years.