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Jockey Rosemary Homeister leads Tampa Bay Downs pack into Claiming Crown stakes

Jockey Rosemary Homeister Jr. received congratulatory messages in Virginia for reaching a recent milestone. Trainer Jamie Ness got kudos in Ohio for doing the same.

Today, both can build on their momentum in Claiming Crown XI, the premier event for national claiming horses, at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minn. Homeister and Ness are part of a Tampa Bay Downs contingent participating in seven stakes totaling $600,000. The 11-race card includes the $100,000 Lady Canterbury, the track's signature race. First post is 2:30 p.m.

Homeister, 37, Oldsmar's second-leading rider the past two years, became thoroughbred racing's second-winningest female jockey Monday aboard Kathleen O'Connell's Gambles List at Colonial Downs in New Kent. It was Homeister's 2,138th career win, surpassing Patti Cooksey. Julie Krone is first with 3,704. July 17, Ness, three-time defending leading trainer at Tampa Bay Downs, captured his first win title at Thistledown in North Randall, edging Jeffrey Radosevich 21-20 for the Summit meet crown.

Ness and Homeister are looking for their first wins in Claiming Crown, which is open to any horse that has raced for a claiming tag of $5,000 to $35,000 since 2008. Sixty-two horses are entered in the seven stakes, highlighted by the $150,000 Jewel for older runners at 11/8 miles. In the Jewel, Ness sends Repenting against Antrim County, 2008 National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association claimer of the year. Ness also has Max Ahead, winner of his past three races, in the $75,000 Rapid Transit. Homeister's only Claiming Crown mount is in the $100,000 Tiara, R Vicarious Girl, a 5-year-old mare with a six-race win streak for Downs two-time top owner Richard Averill.

Other Downs trainers with Claiming Crown entries: Dale Bennett (Luckman in $100,000 Emerald); his father, Gerald Bennett (Roboponi in $50,000 Iron Horse and Right Flanker in Rapid Transit); and Bernell Rhone (Couple Whiles in Tiara). Dean Butler, Canterbury Park's top rider and who competed at Oldsmar last year, has five mounts; 2000-01 Downs riding champion Derek Bell has three.

"I get very few people now saying, 'What's Claiming Crown?' — something I got a lot of in the early years," Claiming Crown coordinator Nat Wess said.

More horses: Preakness winner Rachel Alexandra and Belmont Stakes winner Summer Bird will be racing for $1.25 million if they run in the Haskell Invitational in Oceanport, N.J., a week from today. The winner gets $750,000.

GREYHOUNDS: Alderson Kennel's Lamorge Streaker, who got her 60th career victory Wednesday at Derby Lane in St. Petersburg, has been named greyhound of the month by the National Greyhound Association. … Every performance at Derby Lane will be 15 races beginning Monday.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

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Homeister update

Not that long ago, Rosemary Homeister Jr. wasn't riding. She retired in 2004 to concentrate on selling real estate and starting a family, but she got back into racing two years later after her marriage ended and she found that she missed the game. "Best decision I ever made," she said. Homeister, whose parents were jockeys and whose mother, Rosemary Sr., is now a trainer at Calder, is one of five women who have ridden in the Kentucky Derby. She finished 13th aboard Supah Blitz in 2003. At 37, she likely won't catch leading female rider Julie Krone in wins, so the top item on her list of things to do involves one race at Churchill Downs. "To ride in the Kentucky Derby again," she said, "and win it."

Jockey Rosemary Homeister leads Tampa Bay Downs pack into Claiming Crown stakes 07/24/09 [Last modified: Friday, July 24, 2009 11:15pm]

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