Invaluable back to defend Claiming Crown Glass Slipper – but for new barn (Joe Sharp)

A National HBPA press release. Photo: Invaluable winning the 2022 Glass Slipper at Churchill Downs. Gwen Davis/Davis Innovation)

NEW ORLEANS, La. – (Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023) — Invaluable secured the National HBPA’s Claiming Horse of the Year when she captured the Claiming Crown Glass Slipper last year at Churchill Downs in the mud for trainer Mike Maker and owner Paradise Farms Corp. The 6-year-old mare will defend that victory in the $100,000 race for fillies and mares that have competed for a claiming price of $12,500 or less in 2022 or 2023. But this go-round it will be with a new trainer (Joe Sharp) and owners (Forgotten Man Racing and Dominic Damiano) and at the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots in New Orleans.

Sharp and the owners claimed Invaluable two races ago, the day she won a $25,000 claiming race by a nose. They’ve run her back once, in a $10,000 starter-allowance race at Keeneland. Invaluable closed to finish second, but was never a threat in a 12 3/4-length victory by Illinois shipper Samarita. The two will face off again in the Glass Slipper (race 4, post time 2:15 p.m. CT), which at the Fair Grounds is a mile around two turns vs. Churchill Downs’ one-turn mile last year.

While calling Samarita “definitely a really nice filly,” Sharp is extremely confident for a trainer whose horse just lost by 12 3/4 lengths.

“Obviously she showed last year she can handle the off track, if it’s the weather they’re calling for,” he said of Invaluable. “She’s been a nice filly. We claimed her at Churchill, ran back at Keeneland and she came out of that with a little bit of a sinus deal going on. So it probably wasn’t her best effort. But she’s doing fantastic, really has transitioned well down here. She had a nice breeze about 10 days out from her race. I think we can turn the tables on the filly that beat her.

“Post race unveiled that we weren’t 100 percent that day. So we’ve got a built-in excuse and we’re going to use it. I feel very confident going into this race, and she’s doing fantastic.”

Of being the reigning Claiming Horse of the year, Sharp said, “I know! Those are big shoes to fill. We’ve got to keep her crown.”

Sharp also is well-positioned in the $200,000 Claiming Crown Jewel (race 10, 5:15 p.m. CT) at 1 1/8 miles with 5-2 favorite Money Supply, a $400,000 yearling purchase claimed by Sharp and owner Jordan Wycoff for $35,000 at Saratoga. In three races for Money Supply’s new team, the 4-year-old Practical Joke colt was a close second in a $50,000 starter-allowance, then won a similar race at Churchill Downs and followed with victory in a first-level allowance race.

Dana’s Beauty will make her first start for Sharp in the $150,000 Claiming Crown Tiara (race 5, 2:45 p.m. CDT) at 1 1/16 miles on turf for fillies and mares that have raced for a claiming price of $25,000 or less in 2022 or 2023. Dana’s Beauty is 8-1 in a field of nine, with the 3-1 favorite Perhaps Tonight making her first start for trainer Tom Amoss.

The 5-year-old Dana’s Beauty, who had been racing over Presque Isle’s all-weather surface, was claimed for $25,000 two starts back to become Claiming Crown-eligible, then finished a very close third in a stakes. She’s owned by the Magic Oaks Stable of the brother and sister team of horse owner and trainer Adam Rice and Taylor Ortiz, who is married to jockey Jose Ortiz.

“Taylor worked for me this summer (at Saratoga), so it’s kind of fun,” Sharp said. “The filly has been down here at the Fair Grounds, had about a month to settle in and has had three good works over the track. She just seems like an improving filly. I don’t know what would happen if it would come off the turf, but her work in the slop was really good.

“We have a lot of confidence. If it’s on the grass, we like her a lot. She’s been working phenomenal.”

Sharp also has Bizzee Channel and Runway Magic in the $150,000 Emerald at 1 1/16 miles on turf (race 9, 4:45 p.m. CT). Magic Castle is entered in the $75,000 Ready’s Rocket Express but could be scratched because of difficulties in getting the horse shipped from Remington Park in Oklahoma.

Jennie Rees is a communications and advocacy specialist in the horse industry who spent 32 years covering horse racing for The (Louisville) Courier-Journal before taking a corporate buyout. In addition to handling communications for the Kentucky HBPA, Rees is Kentucky Downs’ publicity director, manages in-season racing publicity for Ellis Park and serves as a consultant to the National HBPA. Other projects include the Preakness Stakes, Indiana Grand’s Indiana Derby Week and work for various HBPA affiliates and horsemen’s associations.