Claiming Crown Gets Bigger and Better

Led by a record number of pre-entries, Saturday's Claiming Crown at Canterbury Park is expected to be the biggest ever in the five-year history of the event, according the Nat Wess, director of live racing operations at Canterbury Park.

"I don't know if we've ever had a field as contentious as the one we are expecting Saturday, maybe even where the favorites in several races are 3-to-1 or better," Wess said during a National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) conference call on Tuesday. "This has become an event that horsemen around the country immediately recognize, the simulcasting of the event has grown and I believe for the first time the signal will be available in Australia."

The six-race series drew 281 nominations, with a record 88 horses pre-entered. The track will draw for post positions on Wednesday. There are 22 pre-entries--the most for any of the races--for the $125,000 Dodge Claiming Crown Emerald at 1 1/16 miles on the grass.

Trainer Scott Lake, who will attempt to build on his total of six Claiming Crown wins, will bring seven horses, including three entries (Polish Times, Rize, and Spooky Mulder) in the $150,000 Continental Diamond Claiming Crown Jewel, feature of the afternoon. Rafeal Bejarano will ride Rize.

"I think we're brining in a couple of horses that have a real shot," Lake said during the teleconference. "Rize is just training phenomenally. He is just doing everything right at the moment."

In addition to Rize, Polish Times, and Spooky Mulder, Lake will saddle Halo Hunter, Satan's Code, and Sure You Can.

Lake said the Claiming Crown is very important to the industry because it makes the average owner feel like someone special.