Claimer to Pace champ?

July 06, 2003
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Build A Fire, one of 27 colts vying this Saturday night (July 5) for 10 spots in next week's $1 million Meadowlands Pace, has the distinction of coming into the eliminations out of a claiming race.

On June 27, trainer Mark Ford snatched the three-year-old gelding for $75,000 for owner Martin Scharf of Lawrence, NY, and paid the fees to enter him in the Meadowlands Pace elims. Daniel Dube will be in the sulky when Build A Fire goes from post two in the sixth race, the last of the three $50,000 elimination races.

"We figured that if he was worth the $75,000, which we thought he was, then he was also worth $81,000, which includes the [Meadowlands Pace] starting fee," said Ford. "I don't think he's the kind of horse who's going to pay immediate dividends, but I think he'll be a good claim down the road."

The gelded son of Western Hanover - Between Two Fires, unraced at two, has two wins, two seconds and one thirds from nine starts and earnings of $29,120.

Ford trains and Scharf owns Gallo Blue Chip, who won the 2000 Meadowlands Pace and U.S. horse of the year honours.

Build A Fire will not be the first horse to racing for a claiming tag before entering a major stakes at the Meadowlands. In 1984, Historic Freight, driven by Ben Webster and trained by Skip Lewis, competed in a $35,000 claimer only five weeks prior to the Hambletonian that he won. In the instance of Historic Freight, there were no takers in at the claiming box.

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