01/09/2008 12:00AM

Canterbury plans big day


Canterbury Park will hold the two biggest events of its meet on the same day this summer as part of a $2 million stakes schedule the track released Wednesday.

The $600,000 Claiming Crown - which will return to Canterbury after being run at Ellis Park in Kentucky last year - and the $100,000 Lady Canterbury Stakes are both slated for Aug. 2, far and away the biggest day of the meet.

This will be the 10th edition of the Claiming Crown, and the eighth time the seven-race series of starter-allowance stakes will be run at Canterbury. The Lady Canterbury, the richest open stakes of the meet, is a one-mile turf race for fillies and mares. The hope is that both events could pick up extra starters from stables sending in horses from out of state to run at Canterbury that day.

A late highlight of the 67-day meet will be the Minnesota Festival of Champions, a seven-race series for statebreds that will offer $325,000 in purses. The Canterbury meet opens on Kentucky Derby Day, May 3, and runs through Labor Day, Sept. 1.

* Rob Burton, a fixture on the Canterbury Park backstretch, died Monday following a 2 1/2-year battle with cancer. Burton, 34, worked as an exercise rider and ponied horses in the mornings. He also worked in numerous capacities for the Canterbury Park racing office, including stints on the gate crew and as a valet, most recently for jockey Derek Bell.