An information campaign paid off this year for the Claiming Crown, which lured a record 244 regular nominations, up from 177 in 2000. In addition, there were 36 "open" nominations, up from 33 last year.
The Claiming Crown, set for Aug. 4 at Canterbury Park in Minnesota, will feature six stakes run under starter allowance conditions. Purses will total $550,000.
Nat Wess, director of racing at Canterbury, said he sent more than 150 letters, along with past performances, to owners and trainers informing them they had horses that fit the Claiming Crown conditions. Wess said many horsemen still didn't know about the series, now in its third year.
The Claiming Crown is a joint project of the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association. Canterbury Park and Minnesota horsemen have contributed the bulk of purse money for the event thus far.
"Open" nominators have until June 15 to name a horse to the Claiming Crown. The second round of regular nominations, at $500 each, also closes June 15.
Richard Englander, leading owner by wins this year, nominated 33 horses and made six open nominations. Englander won two Claiming Crown races in 2000. Trainer Scott Lake, who won three Claiming Crown races last year (two for Englander), conditions many of Englander's horses, and also nominated several for other owners.