Ellis Park will become the first Kentucky racetrack to host the Claiming Crown when it conducts the ninth renewal of the event Aug. 4. Only once before has the race been held away from Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minn., which ceded the “Breeders’ Cup for Claimers” to Philadelphia Park in 2002.
The Claiming Crown has six races with purses totaling $600,000. To be eligible, a horse must have run for a minimum claiming price, which varies by race, since Aug. 1, 2006.
Owners enthusiastically supported this year’s Claiming Crown by entering 72 horses. A record 357 were nominated for the event, 75 more than last year.
“We thought it would draw more people to locate (the Claiming Crown) in Kentucky,” said Ron Geary, owner and president of Ellis Park. “I think we’ve been very successful, and I think we will help take it to the next level when we pass the baton back to Canterbury (Park) in 2008.”
All Claiming Crown races are open to 3-year-olds and up. Following are conditions for each race:
• The $50,000 Unbridled Spirit Iron Horse is a one-mile event for horses that have raced for $7,500 or less.
• The $50,000 Sysco Express has nearly identical conditions as the Iron Horse, except the distance is six furlongs.
• The $75,000 Kentucky HBPA Glass Slipper is another six-furlong event. It is open to fillies and mares that have raced for $16,000 or less.
• The $100,000 Toyota Tiara, for fillies and mares that have raced for $25,000 or less, is a 1 1/16 mile turf race.
• The $75,000 Daily Racing Form Rapid Transit is six furlongs and is open to any horse that has raced for $16,000 or less.
• The $100,000 Pepsi Emerald will also be contested at 1 1/16 miles on turf but is open to any horse that has raced for $25,000 or less.
• The $150,000 Old National Bank Jewel, the feature race of the day, is a 1 1/8 mile event for horses that have raced for $35,000 or less.
--By Jon Forbes