Claiming Crown Looking at Purse Options

Claiming Crown organizers are looking for ways to generate purse money.

Claiming Crown organizers will meet in Tucson, Ariz., the week of Dec. 7 to iron out details of the 2010 event and perhaps look for ways to generate purse money through sponsorships.

The Claiming Crown, inaugurated in 1999, has for the most part been held at Canterbury Park in Minnesota. Organizers plan to select a date during the meeting and the Minnesota Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association has offered to host the National HBPA summer convention in conjunction with the Claiming Crown.

In October, the National HBPA Executive Committee discussed the Claiming Crown, a partnership of the National HBPA and Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, regarding the $500,000 needed for purses. Canterbury and the Minnesota HBPA each contribute about $250,000, but purse revenue from traditional sources isn’t growing.

Some members of the Minnesota HBPA would rather not cut local stakes purses to support the Claiming Crown, so organizers are hoping to work with sponsors to raise about $100,000.

In 2009, Betfair-owned TVG “stepped up with coverage, and is expected to do the same (in 2010),” National HBPA chief executive officer Remi Bellocq said.

Minnesota HBPA president Tom Metzen Sr. said he hopes the Claiming Crown, which generates the largest pari-mutuel handle of the year for Canterbury and is heavily promoted by the track, will “get bigger and bigger and better than it ever was” with more coverage and support for the races in terms of participation.

This year, Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Furthest Land, a $35,000 claim, finished fourth in the $150,000 Claiming Crown Jewel on the dirt but then won the grade II Kentucky Cup Classic at Turfway Park and the $1-million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I) at Oak Tree at Santa Anita Park on synthetic surfaces.