Friday, January 22, 2010

Welcome Back Claiming Crown 2010

It was announced on Wednesday that the 2010 Claiming Crown will be back at Canterbury Park for it's 12th renewal. This will mark the 10th time that the Claiming Crown will be held at Canterbury and the conditions and purse levels will remain the same as last year.

The races are loosely based upon the Breeder's Cup format but are specifically geared toward our everyday heroes on the racetrack: the claiming horses. Don't think that these are just a bunch of knockabout platers running for some extra dough, though. Last year Breeder's Cup winner Furthest Land was two races removed from the Claiming Crown when he captured the "Dirt" Mile at Santa Anita last fall. Jockeys from all over the country come to Minnesota for each renewal such as Eclipse Award winner Julian Leparoux, Jamie Theriot, Robby Albarado and the legendary Russell Baze which speaks to the draw of the Claiming Crown card.

There may be some rumbling given the host track puts out the purse money that this dough could be better used in supplementing the day to day card at Canterbury. $600,000 is a lot of money in our corner of heaven and constitutes almost a week's worth of racing. In a second year where we've cut back to starting on Preakness Day rather than Derby Day and finishing a week before Labor Day rather than Labor Day itself, it may rankle some that this money is being spent on 'outsiders' rather than 'our own'. After all, if the event is so great, why didn't Philadelphia or Ellis Park ever want it back? While I can sympathize with that feeling, I think the long term good of racing in general benefits greatly from an event like the Claiming Crown. I'd like to see it rotated around maybe three tracks to help mitigate the costs a bit, but the exposure and prestige this brings to Canterbury is something that can't necessarily be measured in dollars and cents.

Best of luck to all the claiming horses all year round and remember, if yours start to break out a bit during the season, start pointing to Shakopee in July - I know that we will be! Hope to see you there!


Anonymous said...

I have often wondered how Canterbury's P & L looked for Claiming Crown day, given they fund the purses. I would hope with some of the races having sponsors, they'd at least breakeven with vending, etc.

I understand there may be some rumblings regarding "non-local" horses and connections, but that could be said at any track's stakes races, couldn't it?

Also, let's look at this from the CBY "corporation" perspective. If CBY just took $600K and supplemented other general races during the meet, do you think they'd recoup that in a higher handle? I don't. I think they have a lot better luck in breaking even thanks to off-track handle from the Claiming Crown than they would on our low per capita handle at Shakopee and its limited off-track handle on the regular, everyday races.

It would be an interesting study to measure on-track handle on Claiming Crown day (higher purse/higher quality horse races) as compared to regular days at CBY. This might give some clarity as to the measure that the addition of slots (and higher purses) might or might not do to local handle at the track.

The track does pay homage to MN breds on the Festival of Champions Day.

Jack said...

I see there's one less CC race scheduled for 2010 compared to 2009 as the Tiara for fillies/mares on the turf isn't on the card this year so that'll save them $100k.

It was a great day last year and I'm already looking forward to it again this year and we plan to keep some of that $ in MN this time.

Ted Grevelis said...

Minn Festival Day is a great, albeit chalky last year, of local racing. Some of the champs make a dent elsewhere as well (Perfect Bull for one).

I don't think that CC Day is a money winner for the racetrack. If I remember the handle totals correctly last year, it wasn't staggering, though attendance was solid. The threat of rain early I think hurt potential attendance as well. Hopefully, the folks enjoyed themselves and came back. Record average attendance last year possibly bears that out. Again, that didn;t translate into a generous increase in handle, but maybe they'll be back this year and do some wagering as well!

As an aside, I agree with your contention that if spread equally, the money wouldn't impact the daily races/handle and that as a prestige attention getter and longer term investment, it could be a very good thing.

Good luck, Jack! I hope we each have a winner - or two!