Updated on 03/14/2012 2:49PM

Claiming Crown coming to Gulfstream in December


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – The Claiming Crown will move to south Florida for the first time this season, with the 14th renewal of the event to be held at Gulfstream Park on Dec. 1, opening day of the 2012-2013 meeting.

This year’s event will feature a significant increase in total purses, with $850,000 to be offered on the Claiming Crown’s seven races. Only six Claiming Crown races were offered in 2011, and only five filled with total purses of $425,000, when the event was held at Fair Grounds.

“We’re ecstatic to play host to the 14th running of the Claiming Crown on opening day,” said Tim Ritvo, Gulfstream Park president and general manager. “Horses competing in the claiming ranks are many of the toughest in the world. They’re game and they build loyal followings within the Thoroughbred community, whether with fans, owners, or trainers.

“This is an important event to our chairman, Mr. Frank Stronach. The management and staff at Gulfstream look forward to working with the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association.”

The Claiming Crown was first held in 1999 at Canterbury Park, the Minnesota track that has hosted the event 10 times. In addition to Fair Grounds, it also has been run at Philadelphia Park (2002) and Ellis Park (2007).

The Claiming Crown’s races are held under starter allowance conditions for males and females that competed for varying claiming prices. Purses for the races will range from $100,000 to $200,000 at Gulfstream. The added race for 2012 will be the Tiara, for fillies and mares on the turf.

Kent Stirling, executive director of the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, said his board of directors felt that if the Claiming Crown came to Gulfstream Park, it needed to be the best Claiming Crown ever. 

“We are proud to join with Gulfstream Park, the National HBPA, and TOBA to revitalize this great day for our claiming horses,” said Sterling. “Claiming horses deserve to be celebrated on their day with higher purses, and what we expect to be record-setting live handle and simulcast numbers.”

“We are excited and honored that Gulfstream Park has agreed to host the 2012 Claiming Crown,” said TOBA president Dan Metzger, who also serves as chairman of Claiming Crown Limited. “The enthusiasm and purse commitment from both Gulfstream Park and the Florida HBPA has been extraordinary.”