Updated on 09/17/2011 3:01PM

Claiming Crown attracts a record 88 pre-entries

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A charter flight transporting 18 horses from the mid-Atlantic region is scheduled to arrive Sunday in Minneapolis, Minn., for the July 17 Claiming Crown, the annual series for which pre-entries were released Thursday by Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minn.

A record are listed for the Claiming Crown, a $550,000 series that was inaugurated in 1999 to reward the so-called blue-collar horses who otherwise perform with little fanfare at racetracks throughout North America. Each of the six Claiming Crown races drew at least 11 pre-entries, with the most being 22 for the Emerald; each field will be limited to 14 starters.

As usual, trainer Scott Lake appears to have the strongest hand for the Claiming Crown. Lake, who has won a record six Claiming Crown races, has pre-entered seven horses, including three in the richest of the races, the $150,000 Claiming Crown Jewel. Those horses are Polish Times, Rize, and Spooky Mulder, all of whom have been in sharp form when competing in New York recently.

Lake's horses will be on the charter arriving Sunday. About a half-dozen or so horses from Southern California also are scheduled to be flown to Minnesota, on Tuesday.

Among notable jockeys scheduled to ride in the Claiming Crown are Kent Desormeaux, who next month will be inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame, and Rafael Bejarano, who leads all North American riders in victories this year.

Entries for all Claiming Crown races will be drawn on Wednesday at a media breakfast at the track. Besides the Jewel, a 1 1/8-mile race that anchors the series, those races are the $125,000 Emerald, $100,000 Rapid Transit, $75,000 Glass Slipper, $50,000 Express, and $50,000 Iron Horse.

The Claiming Crown races essentially are governed by starter-allowance conditions, with eligibility thresholds rising in accordance with purse levels.

Online contest on Claiming Crown

In conjunction with the Claiming Crown, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association is sponsoring a tied to the series. Three berths in the annual Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas are at stake. For more information, log on to ntra.com.

Live television coverage of the Claiming Crown will be provided once again by Television Games Network.

The Claiming Crown, which is co-sponsored by the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders' Association and the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, has been run at Canterbury every year except 2001, when it was held at Philadelphia Park.