The Claiming Crown, inaugurated in 1999, is on its way back to Canterbury Park in Minnesota for 2003, but the date has been moved up from previous editions of the event.
Claiming Crown officials said the six-race, $550,000 series will be held July 19, the earliest date ever. For the first three years, the event was held in early August at Canterbury, and this year, it was held Labor Day weekend at Philadelphia Park.
The Claiming Crown is a product of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, and host racetracks and horsemen's groups. When it began, organizers said Canterbury would get the first three editions of the Claiming Crown, and six of the first 10. It has become the marquee event for the racetrack located just south of Minneapolis.
"The first three editions of the Claiming Crown were great successes when held at Canterbury Park, and we are optimistic that Claiming Crown 2003 will match, or even surpass, those results," National HBPA president John Roark said.
In November, Canterbury president Randy Sampson indicated the track would host the 2003 Claiming Crown, but that details had not been finalized. The format for 2003 will be identical to that of 2002: six races for horses that have started at least once for claiming prices ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 since July 15, 2002.
Canterbury and the Minnesota HBPA have teamed up to provide the purse money for the event. Officials continue to look for ways to bump up nominations to alleviate the burden on the purse account.