Eighty-four horses, representing 17 different U.S. states and one Canadian province, were pre-entered July 23 for the 2008 Claiming Crown, which will take place Aug. 2 at Canterbury Park.
Claiming Crown, a partnership of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association offers total purses of $600,000 to North America's top claiming horses. The 10th annual event is comprised of seven races, with purses ranging from $50,000 to $150,000 and is open to horses that have started at least once in 2007-08 for claiming prices ranging from $7,500 to $35,000.
The 84 pre-entries is one higher than the figure recorded for the 2006 Claiming Crown, which was the most recent renewal hosted by Canterbury Park. Last year's event took place at Ellis Park and drew 86 pre-entries.
"This year brought us a very strong crop of pre-entrants, and I think we have an excellent chance for 70 or more starters over the seven races," said Claiming Crown coordinator Nat Wess. "We are very encouraged by the support of horsemen from all over the country, and we anticipate a very appealing and challenging betting card on August 2."
Claiming Crown's featured event is the $150,000 Jewel, a 1 1/8-mile contest on the main track for 3-year-olds and up who have started for $35,000 or less since Jan. 1, 2007. The Jewel attracted 10 pre-entries, including the John Sadler-trained Zappa, who won the grade II San Pasqual Handicap over Well Armed and Heatseeker earlier this year at Santa Anita. Others pre-entered were Canela, who was sent out by trainer Mike Maker to a third-place finish last time out in the grade III Stars and Stripes Handicap over the Arlington Park turf; and the Scott Lake-trained Coyoteshighestcall, winner of this year's Norristown Stakes at Philadelphia Park.
Trainers Lake and Maker are no strangers to Claiming Crown success. Lake is the runaway leading trainer in Claiming Crown history with eight wins, and he has four horses pre-entered this year. Maker registered his first three Claiming Crown victories last year at Ellis and will be looking to add to that total with five pre-entrants this year.
The 2008 total of 84 pre-entries also includes seven horses trained by Justin Evans, the leading conditioner at the current Canterbury Park meeting. The seven pre-entries by Evans are a Claiming Crown record by a trainer in a single year. Among Evans's charges is Chickster, one of 17 pre-entered for the $50,000 Express, a six-furlong event open to horses that have run for $7,500 or less in 2007-08. Chickster has already won nine races in 2008, making him the winningest horse in North America this year.
The Express is one of two oversubscribed races in this year's Claiming Crown. The other, with 16 pre-entries, is the $75,000 Rapid Transit, a six-furlong race for 3-year-olds-and-up who have run for $16,000 or less in 2007-08. The maximum number of starters for any Claiming Crown race is 14, with starting berths in oversubscribed races determined by a points formula that is based on in-the-money finishes since Jan. 1, 2007.
The $50,000 Iron Horse, a 1 1/16-mile, main track affair for 3-year-olds-and-up who have run for $7,500 or less in 2007-08, drew a dozen pre-entries. The $75,000 Glass Slipper, a six-furlong race for fillies and mares who have run for $16,000 or less in 2007-08, attracted 10, as did the $100,000 Tiara, a 1 1/16-mile grass event for fillies and mares who have run for $25,000 or less in 2007-08, The only Claiming Crown race that attracted single-digit pre-entries was the $100,000 Emerald, which drew nine. The Emerald is a 1 1/16-mile grass affair for 3-year-olds-and-up who have run for $25,000 or less in 2007-08.