01/19/2011 12:21PM

Canterbury groups three stakes on new Fillies Race for Hope program

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Marty McGee

The 2011 Canterbury Park meet will include 28 stakes while missing the longtime centerpiece, the Claiming Crown, it was announced Wednesday by officials at the Shakopee, Minn., track.

Highlights of the 62-day meet, which runs May 20 through Sept. 5, will include the seven-race, $345,000 Minnesota Festival of Champions for statebreds on Sept. 4, and the $75,000 Lady Canterbury, one of three stakes set for July 31. The Lady Canterbury has undergone a purse cut from $100,000.

The July 31 program will be showcased as the Fillies Race for Hope, a breast-cancer awareness fund-raiser during which all nine races will be for fillies and/or mares. Dates at some other tracks have been similarly dedicated to breast-cancer awareness, most notably Kentucky Oaks Day at Churchill Downs in Kentucky.

With a couple of exceptions, 2002 and 2007, the Claiming Crown had been the richest event run every summer at Canterbury since its 1999 inaugural. This year, the $500,000 series will be held Dec. 3 at Fair Grounds in New Orleans. Canterbury officials said the Claiming Crown is scheduled to return to their track in the summer of 2012.