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Thoroughbred Owner Maggi Moss Beats the Odds

Story by Jim Duncan, photography by David Peterson

On a hot August evening at her home track, Maggi Moss is hardly incognito. Strangers and friends alike at Altoona’s Prairie Meadows greet her by first name. She graciously responds to everyone as she makes her way to the paddock.

She has two horses running tonight, and tout sheets specifically refer to Moss when giving both horses good shots at winning. Serious players are quite hip to that key connection.

Most of Moss’ horse racing accomplishments are well-known, but her most amazing one is closely guarded by insiders and handicappers.

“In 2011 34 percent of all Maggi’s mounts won their races and 68 percent finished in the money (first, second, or third), by far the best percentages in the country,” says respected horseman-handicapper Ray Smith.

“Some think those [statistics] are unprecedented, especially for an owner who starts 450 to 500 mounts a year.”

Jerry Crawford, a Des Moines lawyer and horseman who is also Vice Chair of the Breeders Cup, the world’s top racing series, says he’s never seen anything like those numbers.

“Amazing. Maggi truly has a sixth sense — the sense that makes it possible for a few humans to understand and communicate with horses.

“It’s also the same sense used to size up juries in the courtroom. No surprise; Maggi is expert at both.”

Moss, a mostly retired Des Moines lawyer, obviously has horse sense — an incredible knack for seeing potential in animals that other horsemen have given up on.

The sport calls these horses “claimers,” and they compete in races in which owners agree before the starting bell to sell them at a set price.

In the last four decades, the Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association has awarded just 29 “Claimers of the Year” — recognizing thoroughbreds that go on to perform exceptionally and profitably, earning far more money than anticipated.

Moss is the only owner who claimed more than one of them.


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