The 2011 Claiming Crown will be held Dec. 3 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots in Louisiana, officials announced Dec. 20.
It marks the first time the event, inaugurated in 1999, will be held at Fair Grounds. The Claiming Crown, a series of lucrative starter allowance events, is a partnership of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.
“Fair Grounds is proud to bring the Claiming Crown to New Orleans,” Eric Halstrom, vice president and general manager of racing for Fair Grounds, said in a statement. “One of our stated goals has been to host top-end national events at our racetrack, and the Claiming Crown certainly fits very well. We look forward to teaming with TOBA, the National HBPA, and our local HBPA as we try to make the 2011 Claiming Crown a record-setting event.”
Halstrom has some experience with the event, having worked at Canterbury Park, the Minnesota racetrack that has hosted 10 of 12 Claiming Crowns. Canterbury president Randy Sampson and his staff made the event the centerpiece of the track’s meet, but he also has said he believes the event should move around the country.
Because nomination fees haven't produced enough revenue, Canterbury and the Minnesota HBPA have contributed the purse money for the series of stakes worth more than $500,000 each year. In a release, Fair Grounds and the National HBPA said "further details on the event’s race lineup, purse structure, nomination and entry deadline schedule, and eligibility dates" will be released soon.
Fair Grounds is owned by Churchill Downs Inc.
“The Louisiana HBPA is happy the National HBPA and TOBA are bringing the Claiming Crown to Louisiana,” Louisiana HBPA president Larry Robideaux said. “We feel Fair Grounds is a great choice to host this prestigious event. Claiming Crown rewards the horses that are the backbone of racing.”
The event usually is held in late July when Canterbury is open for live racing. The window of opportunity is much smaller for Fair Grounds, which begins its meet Thanksgiving Day.
The only other tracks to have hosted the Claiming Crown are Ellis Park in Kentucky and Parx Racing, formerly known as Philadelphia Park, in Pennsylvania.