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The Claiming Crown to Expand to $1 Million

The annual program is also expected to add an eighth race this year.

Total purses for The Claiming Crown of 2013 are expected to reach $1 million and the program expanded to eight races. The program will likely be run for a second year in a row at Gulfstream Park.

"Gulfstream is very interested in this event and suggested the new race and the purse amount," said Andy Schweigardt, director of industry relations and development for the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, which held its annual members meeting Aug. 7 in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Being added to the program will be a 1 1/16-mile race worth $110,000 for fillies and mares on the dirt. The Claiming Crown, which is a partnership between TOBA and the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, is tentatively schedule to be run Dec. 7. A final agreement with Gulfstream Park has not been confirmed, but the South Florida track is interested enough in the event to contemplate a three-year deal, which is also being negotiated.

Last year's seven-race program worth $850,000 was very successful, attracting $12 million in handle compared with $7 million in 2011, according to TOBA president Dan Metzger.

In other TOBA news, racing secretaries Allison DeLuca with Tampa Bay Downs and Rick Hammerle with Santa Anita Park are new members of the association's American Graded Stakes Committee, which annually reviews and assigns the graded stakes status to North American races. Tom Robbins of Del Mar is leaving the committee due to term limits, and Dan Bork exits because he recently stepped down as Gulfstream Park's racing secretary.

During its annual administration meeting, the AGSC also re-elected J. David Richardson as its chairman and appointed Reynolds Bell Jr. to replace the seat previously held by Bill Farish. Schweigardt also said the American Graded Stakes Committee has asked Hammerle, Robbins, and Golden Gate Fields' David Jerkens to monitor if the stakes currently being run at soon-to-close Betfair Hollywood Park will be continued and where they are likely to be relocated.

"We need to see this issue settled before the grades can be assigned," Schweigardt said.

There was no discussion during the meeting about tying graded status to race-day Salix use.