Claiming Race: Race in which horses are entered subject to being claimed or purchased for a price specified before the start of the race.
For someone who doesn't understand horse racing, the question remains: Why would someone ever put their horse in a claiming race?
Most races are claiming races. For the lower caliber horses, it's a way the track has of forcing people to run their horses at approximately the price at which they would not mind having the horse bought. If you have a horse that can beat horses worth $20,000, typically you enter it in a $20,000 claiming race. Now there might be people who feel their horse is worth $20,000 and they say: I wouldn't mind seeing the horse get beat. So they'll enter it for $40,000 so the horse looks like it's performed badly. Or what they might do is say: I'm going to risk people claiming the horse and run it in a $10,000 claiming race and that means he'll be running the horse against horses that are less talented, so his horse is much more likely to win. The downside is he's more likely to have the horse claimed -- someone's liable to step in and buy the horse for the $10,000.
So are horses claimed regularly?
Oh yeah. There are very few claiming races that at least one horse isn't claimed.
So that explains why Goose says to Renzo: "Horse ownerships tend to be fluid, that's why pencils have erasers."
Is Renzo naïve to try to claim Mon Gateau after one win?
So the most important thing when you claim a horse is a term called "recency." That means a horse has performed well in its immediate past. A horse that did well a year ago, or two years ago (which is the situation with Mon Gateau going into his first race in episode 1) has no recency at all and there is no reason to think, given his workouts, that he is prepared to run a good race. That's why Jerry's bet is so inspired. But once the horse establishes his excellence he becomes a more likely candidate for a claim.
Why, then, does Escalante drop Mon Gateau down to a lower claiming race when he has just won? Isn't that really tempting people to claim the horse?
Running the horse for less money the second time around is exactly the opposite of what you would do with a horse that looks like he is worth the money. He is daring people. It's like a bluff in poker.