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SEJ Ready for Claiming Crown

By Andrew Offerman

Two-time defending champion owner, SEJ Stables (Curt and Sharon Johnson of Detroit Lakes, MN) has enjoyed a banner year in Shakopee, dominating the owners’ standings in nearly every facet. As of Saturday, SEJ had started 59 horses during the 2008 meet, 35 more than the nearest rival. Their 23 victories placed them in the lead by 16 wins; Jer-Mar Stable was ranked second with seven.

As many Canterbury regulars know, SEJ has excelled at claiming horses and running them in the right spots. SEJ’s ownership method has often led to large win totals, but that hasn’t necessarily translated into a lot of stakes victories. On August 2, 2008, that wait may be over.

Claiming Crown, to be held at Canterbury Park for the eighth time in ten years on August 2, could include three SEJ runners. Chickster, Eagle Storm and Global Trader are all being pointed toward different events in the $600,000 seven-race series.

Chickster, a probable starter in the $50,000 Claiming Crown Express, has won more races than any other horse on the continent in 2008. He’s started 11 races since January 1, 2008 and has won nine times. He won four races in six starts at Turf Paradise in Phoenix, AZ and has won all five of his starts this year at Canterbury Park.

SEJ Stables originally claimed Chickster for $3,000 on February 5, 2008. However, they lost him via the claim box the first time they ran him back. Two starts later, SEJ jumped back in and tagged him for $3,200. Since arriving in Shakopee, Chickster has steadily climbed the ranks, most recently winning an allowance race on July 11.

Chickster certainly has some back-class. Bred in California, he made his racing debut in 2004 at Santa Anita Park in a $44,000 maiden special weight race.

In all, Chickster has six of his nine victories this year in Curt and Sharon Johnson’s fuchsia colors. “It’s been awesome to watch him improve,” Curt said. “Owning the horse with the most victories in the country has been a lot of fun.”

Eagle Storm, claimed for $20,000 by SEJ from Will Carlson and Jerry Pint on May 31 at Canterbury, ran the fastest six-furlong time of the meet on Saturday finishing the distance in 1:09 and 3/5. He’ll likely be pointed for the $75,000 Claiming Crown Rapid Transit.

The final SEJ contender, Global Trader, was claimed for $30,000 at Turf Paradise and is scheduled to run in the $100,000 Claiming Crown Emerald, run at a mile and one sixteenth on the turf. He hasn’t had an out at Canterbury Park this year.

Whether its turf or dirt, sprints or routes, the Johnsons appear to be well placed to win their first Claiming Crown race in 2008.

Will they take a horse from Claim to Fame? Can Chickster continue to run the competition off their feet?

We’ll have to wait until August 2nd to find out!