Philly Park Looms Host of 2002 Claiming Crown

Pending resolution of final contractual matters, the Claiming Crown will make its Mid-Atlantic debut at Philadelphia Park in August or September this year, event organizers said Thursday. No date has been announced.

The first three editions of the Claiming Crown, a product of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, were held at Canterbury Park. The Minnesota track, which has been heavily involved in the event's development, is scheduled to host six of the first 10 editions of the Claiming Crown.

The Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, an HBPA affiliate, represents horsemen at Philadelphia Park. In 2000, horsemen there expressed an interest in hosting a future Claiming Crown, which this year offered $550,000 in purses and bonuses.

"The discussions have been ongoing for several months," TOBA president Dan Metzger said. "We're in the final stages of negotiations. It's our intention to hold the Claiming Crown at Philadelphia Park this year."

Remi Bellocq, executive director of the National HBPA, said it "looks like a done deal." He said Canterbury did an excellent job with the Claiming Crown, and he expects Philly Park, in part because "it's in a great market," will be a successful host as well.

Philly Park, just northeast of Philadelphia in southeastern Pennsylvania, is located in proximity to more than 10 racetracks in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. Scott Lake, the leading trainer in the country by wins for 2001, has a large stable at Philly Park and has been a regular participant in the Claiming Crown. In 2000, he won three races in the series.

Metzger said the plan is to return the Claiming Crown to Canterbury in 2003, then try another new location in 2004. The host site for 2004 could be announced this year, he said.