A pair of automatic berths to the December 2 Claiming Crown at Gulfstream Park were up for grabs at Kentucky Downs on September 10 with Kasuga taking the Claiming Crown Distaff Dash Prep and Special Ops prevailing in the Claiming Crown Emerald Prep.
Both races offered purses of $75,000 and a $1,000 shipping allowance from Kentucky Downs.
Kasuga, a 5-year-old daughter of Temple City, won the 6 ½-furlong turf sprint by nearly two lengths in a time of 1:17.03 with Jose Lezcano up for trainer Bill Mott and owner Joey Gee Thoroughbreds. The mare has earned more than $260,000 in her career with seven wins from 29 starts and a second-place finish in the Grade 3 Royal North Stakes earlier this year at Woodbine.
In the Emerald Prep at a mile and 70 yards on the turf, Skychai Racing LLC’s Special Ops prevailed by a neck in 1:41.98 with Jose Ortiz riding for trainer Mike Maker. The gelding by Big Brown shipped to Kentucky Downs after a victory in the West Virginia House of Delegates Speaker’s Cup Stakes at Mountaineer Park, and this win improved his earnings to $304,262 with seven wins in 26 outs.