Monday, July 20, 2009

What is the Claiming Crown?

The Claiming Crown was established in 1999 as the product of a joint effort between the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeder's of America and the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association to honor the every day heroes of horse racing: the claiming owners, trainers and, of course, the horses. I like to think of the Claiming Crown as a Blue Collar Breeder's Cup. Each and every one of the horses you'll see competing in this event were for sale at a given point in the last year and a half from prices as low as $4000 to as high as $35,000 and now they have the opportunity to take a shot at total purses valued at $600,000. Racing for this kind of purse money is something many of these owners and horses never dreamed they'd get a shot at. When you claim a horse you hope to have some fun, move up the ladder a bit and get your picture taken a few times. When you claim a horse for $7500 you certainly don't think about racing for $75,000, but that's exactly what some of these folks will be doing on Saturday.

The Claiming Crown, in all but two years of it's existence, has been run at Canterbury Park. It's central location and easy access makes it a nice 'neutral' location for the event to be sure, but I also like to think that the way the staff at Canterbury puts on a show has something to do with it as well. In past posts, I have repeatedly mentioned that the national 'powers that be' in racing could learn a lot by the way things are done here at Canterbury and I hope that many of these folks come in early this week to see how popular Buck Night and Happy Hour Fridays are and to see that there are still racetracks in America where, on an ordinary night, there is a still a roar when the horses are giving their all in deep stretch.

On Saturday, Canterbury Park will be opening it's gates free of charge for the Claiming Crown. There will also be a handicapping seminar at 10:30 on the Mezzanine level featuring handicapping author from the Daily Racing Form Steve Davidowitz as well as track handicapper Kevin Gorg and Raceday USA's Steve Fierro to get you started on handicapping all the shippers coming to Canterbury from all over North America. In addition, leading jockeys Julian Leparoux and Robby Albarado will be joining legend Russell Baze with mounts on Claiming Crown Day. If that's not enough of a draw, the $100,000 Lady Canterbury Stakes will also be contested that day.

If you can't make it to the track, I hope you'll join me here throughout the day as I will be blogging live from high above the racetrack all day on Saturday.

Tomorrow: Previews of the Iron Horse and the Pepsi Express.

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