Fantasy Ownership Challenge begins with a bang

The luck of the draw paid off for T. Chris Young and a few others when Triple Tree Stable's Claravoyant won one of six races to kick off the 2017 Fantasy Ownership Challenge at Laurel Park.

Participants in the free Fantasy Ownership Challenge were randomly assigned horses in the six overnight races on the Saturday program, and Claravoyant, trained by Mary Eppler and ridden by Alex Cintron, won the race with the largest purse of $50,000. Claravoyant earned $28,500 for winning the maiden special weight event for fillies and mares and as of March 19 topped the earnings' list for the more than 40 horses that are now part of the contest that runs through Dec. 31 of this year.

About 300 people signed up for events on Fantasy Owners Day—far more than expected—which included a seminar for prospective owners. Many of those eligible to register for the Fantasy Ownership Challenge expressed enthusiasm throughout the day.

Among those who drew an envelope containing the name Claravoyant in the fourth race was T. Chris Young, a vice president and investment adviser for PNC Bank who visits Maryland racetracks from time to time.

"I enjoy the races, and this event today is a fantastic experience," Young said. "I know folks who own horses like Linda Gaudet and Dr. James Casey. They always talk about coming out to the track. I couldn't be more pleased with the experience."

Young's son, Zian, accompanied him to Laurel and also spent some time on the backstretch with Casey. Zian Young has been riding horses since the age of five and is interested in veterinary medicine.

Claravoyant, a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred filly by Drosselmeyer, is yet another successful claim for the Eppler barn, which now has 10 wins during the Laurel winter/spring meet. Eppler claimed the filly for $10,000 in October of last year, and she showed gradual improvement at a higher level leading up to her March 18 start.

In the fifth race, Joan Everett's homebred 4-year-old filly Participate grabbed the early lead under Julian Pimentel and never looked back to win and collect $20,377, which put her second on the earnings' list for the day. The Maryland-bred by Include is trained by Jason Egan.

Rob Thomsen is one of the fantasy owners of Participate, who won for the second time in 10 starts. The purse for the fifth race was $27,500, but Participate qualified for a 30% Maryland-bred bonus that is included in her earnings.

"It was more exciting than you can possible imagine," Thomsen said. "It was an unbelievable opportunity. I'm from Baltimore and I've been to the Preakness and Maryland Million over the years, but when I heard about this latest opportunity, I couldn't pass it up."

After the race, Thomsen spoke to Egan, who encouraged him to stay involved and follow Participate, especially with turf racing scheduled to begin soon in Maryland.

"If we're trying to get more people involved in racing, this is certainly worth a few minutes of our time to thank them for showing up," Egan said. "I heard the reception for this event was pretty good. We want people to have a reason to stay connected with racing, and if following a horse for the year does it, that's a great incentive."

Maryland Jockey Club President and General Manager Sal Sinatra said he was encouraged by the response to Fantasy Owners Day, which included a look at morning training, a prospective owner seminar, a free buffet lunch and trips to the paddock and winner's circle.

"This was our way of giving people the experience of being an owner without any expense," Sinatra said. "It will now be our job to treat them like owners, inviting them to events and making them feel a part of our group. This day was a success, and it couldn't have been done without the help of horsemen and breeders."

As noted earlier, all fantasy horse earnings in U.S. races will be tracked from March 18-Dec. 31 of this year. Prize money for participants is as follows: $30,000 for the horse with the most earnings, $10,000 for second, $5,500 for third, $3,000 for fourth and $1,500 for fifth. If multiple participants are assigned to the same fantasy horse, the share of the prize will divided equally among the number of participants.

Published earnings by Equibase.com will be the source of determining earnings for each fantasy horse. The earnings will be compiled and posted on this website on a weekly basis, usually Sunday or Monday.

Be sure to check the standings regularly. To better track when your horse is entered to run, and the results of races, sign up for Virtual Stable at www.equibase.com,

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