Tuesday, December 21, 2010

No Claiming Crown in Minnesota This Year

The 2011 edition of the Claiming Crown, a partnership between the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeder's Association, will be held at the Fair Grounds, or more accurately these days, Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, in Louisiana, leaving Canterbury Park for the only the third time in its thirteen year history. Past editions have also been contested at Ellis Park and Philadelphia Park.

If the Breeder's Cup was set up for the rarefied gentry of thoroughbred racing, then the Crown was set up to honor the heroes that make up the meat of every day race cards in North America, the claiming horse and connections. I know for my humble band of enthusiasts it was a goal for us last season until Tabby Lane faltered after moving north. It's an exciting event to be a part of and for the work-a-day owners and trainers it could very well be the culmination of their season with the ability to race for more money than they ever have before.

While the event is tremendous, I can't say that I'm sad to see it go. Without "alternative gaming" as slots are euphemistically called, Canterbury has had to cut dates and purses (albeit to a lesser extent than many places). Because the Crown isn't self sufficient, Canterbury has also had to fund the balance of purses and I can't imagine that the day is particularly profitable given the outlay. Having TVG on site is great and it really is hard to put a price tag on being the center of the North American racing world for a day - especially when we really would not be otherwise. But with the economy only slowly rebounding and still no slots at the track, I am a bit selfishly glad that this money will go back into local racing.

At least for this season.


mibredclaimer said...

I'm all for the concept of a traveling Claiming Crown, but I would have liked to see it stay at mid-level midwest tracks that could use the publicity. Ellis and Philadelphia were good, and I could see one of the Indiana tracks eating something like that up. When I think of claimers, Fair Grounds isn't anywhere near the top of the list.

Then again, Fair Grounds also is likely to have the war chest needed to bankroll an event of this nature.

To go back to the first paragraph, the Indiana tracks might have the money to pull this off as well. Indiana Downs has the funding, a turf course, is close to Kentucky and badly needs a marquee event. The Claiming Crown would fit the bill nicely. Their meet is a little early in the year, but surely it could swung.

Anonymous said...

thank god.
you can't watch the races anywere. you can't get results. and the handle is a joke.
f.g. is perfect.

Anonymous said...

I've always speculated as well that the day is a money-loser for Canterbury Park. As a fan (not a horse owner), I'll miss the marquee day though.

I'm not sure Ted that you can bank that the money saved will necessarily revert to local horse owners. Canterbury Park as an entity is losing money and there are stockholders that have a stake in this as well. Many hands in the horse racing cookie jar.

Ted Grevelis said...

All -

Thanks for reading and, especially, taking the time to comment.

mibredclaimer - I agree with you re: the traveling Claiming Crown. The folks at Canterbury have been quoted as supporting that as well. It really is a very fun event to be around and attracts some great horses, trainers and riders.

Anon #1: not sure what you're getting at. If you're talking about Canterbury, the crowds can be a bit overwhelming on the physical plant on big days, but if you want to get on the apron or grab a seat there is fair opportunity. As for the results, I don't understand that one. Handle was way off this year both on and off track. I believe it may have been opening weekend for both Del Mar and Saratoga that weekend, which would tend to be a handle killer, especially when compared to previous years. Defnitely a planning "oops" there. The Fairgrounds will run it in December (wihch makes some sense) so there should be a nice open spot in the calendar for the spotlight.

Anon #2 - There is no way that the saved money will go to overnight purses, but if passing on the Crown means no decrease in purses next season, then it's a good trade off. Should alternative gaming come to Canterbury this legislative session, it could be the last we talk about purse decreases for a while!