11/19/2010 12:47PM

Claiming Crown likely to move to Fair Grounds, be held in December


The 2011 Claiming Crown is unlikely to be held in the summer at its customary site, Canterbury Park in suburban Minneapolis, but instead could move to late fall at Fair Grounds in New Orleans.

Fair Grounds vice president and general manager Eric Halstrom said Friday that the Churchill Downs Inc.-owned track and the Louisiana division of the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association “essentially have agreed that we’d like to host the Claiming Crown next year, barring something unforeseen occurring. We hope to be making that announcement in early December.”

A switch in sites would necessitate the next Claiming Crown being run in December 2011, since Fair Grounds traditionally conducts a four-month meet from late November to late March.

The Claiming Crown, run annually since 1999, has been held at Canterbury for all but two of its 12 runnings, when it was run at Philadelphia Park in 2002 and Ellis Park in 2007. The traditional date has been late July or early August.

The Claiming Crown is a series of six races run under starter-allowance conditions with total purses of about $500,000. The event is co-sponsored by the national HBPA, the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, and the host track and its local horsemen’s organization.

Canterbury released its 2011 racing schedule this week, with mention of the Claiming Crown being noticeably absent. Canterbury will run a 62-day schedule from May 20 to Sept. 5.

Official announcements regarding the Claiming Crown typically are made at the annual Racing Symposium in Tucson each December.