01/06/2006 12:00AM

Crown again at Canterbury

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Canterbury Park will host the eighth running of the Claiming Crown on July 15, 2006, the track announced Friday, ending speculation that the event might not be renewed this season.

The seven-race event showcases claiming horses in a series of starter allowance races that will offer $600,000 in purses. Since its inception, the Claiming Crown has been Canterbury Park's biggest day of its summer meet, providing the largest single-day attendance and handle.

While the track had been disappointed in last year's out-of-state handle, said Canterbury Park's president and general manager, Randy Sampson, "in the end we decided that, over the years, it has been a good event for us."

Sampson indicated that some changes in promotion would be made to increase the event's exposure outside Minnesota.

First run at Canterbury Park in 1999, the Claiming Crown, jointly sponsored by the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, has been run only once elsewhere, at Philadelphia Park in 2002. Following the 2003 renewal, Canterbury was named the permanent host of the event.