08/02/2007 12:00AM

Crown's usual home in shadow of bridge collapse


HENDERSON, Ky. - By fate or luck, horsemen and other people affiliated with the Claiming Crown were nowhere near Minnesota this week, unlike in seven of the past eight years, when the event was held at Canterbury Park.

Claiming Crown coordinator Nat Wess, who has been at Ellis Park since July 23, said the tragic bridge collapse that occurred Wednesday evening near downtown Minneapolis surely would have cast a pall on the event this year if it were being run at Canterbury.

"I'm sure that some people who hadn't arrived yet would have said, 'I'm not going near there, and neither is my horse,' " said Wess, who lives in the Minneapolis suburb of Eden Prairie. "Obviously this is the kind of tragedy that has ripple effects in many ways."

This is the only the second time since the 1999 inaugural that the Claiming Crown has been run anywhere but Canterbury, which is located about 30 minutes south of Minneapolis in Shakopee. The 2002 Claiming Crown was run at Philadelphia Park.

Moss and Cort's P.B. honored

Maggi Moss, whose stable has become a perennial leader among owners in North America, will be honored here Saturday between races along with her Cort's P.B., whom the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association named 2006 claimer of the year.

Cort's P.B. wound up with Moss and trainer Patrick Mouton after being claimed for $40,000 on Sept. 15. The gray Louisiana-bred gelding, now 7, previously was trained by Doris Hebert and Keith Bourgeois. Cort's P.B. won 7 of 10 starts last year for earnings of $187,900, with his biggest win coming for Moss in the Thanksgiving Day Handicap at Fair Grounds.

Ellis highlights low-takeout bet

The Ellis website, ellisparkracing.com, includes a section devoted to the pick four wager with the industry-low takeout of just 4 percent. Among other things, the section gives details on the daily handle, payouts, and, most notably, what the payout would be if the takeout were the normal 22 percent.

The pick four, available for a 50-cent minimum, is held each day on the final four races of the card. That includes Saturday, despite the fact that the Claiming Crown is being run as races 4 through 10 on a 12-race card. There are no special multi-race wagers being offered on the Claiming Crown card.

Englander looks to increase lead

Although the leading trainer in Claiming Crown history, Scott Lake, does not have any runners in the series Saturday, the same can't be said for the leading owner, Richard Englander. Soupy will carry the green Englander silks in the $150,000 Claiming Crown Jewel.

Englander has four wins in the series, while no other owner has more than two. Lake's eight wins lead all trainers, while Jose Flores, with five wins, leads all jockeys

* The second big day of the Ellis meet comes when the lone graded race of the meet, the Grade 3 Gardenia Handicap, anchors the Aug. 18 program. The $150,000 Gardenia, for fillies and mares, is the feature of Big Four Stakes Day. Three other $50,000 stakes will be run: the Regaey Island, Anna Fisher Debutante, and James C. Ellis Juvenile.

* Seats in the VIP pavilion specially constructed for the Claiming Crown are still available at $50 each. For more information, call the Ellis switchboard at (800) 333-8110.

* One thing the Claiming Crown has plenty of: horses with long names of run-together words. To wit: Bargainwiththedevil, Something-dangerous, Showmethegreatone, Heathersdaddysbaby, Timeafter-timeafter, Neverbeendancin', and Lookinforthesecret.

* Turfway Park announced Thursday that Jeff Chapman has been named to replace his brother Dan as track superintendent at the Florence, Ky., track. Dan Chapman, a 21-year employee at Turfway, had been superintendent since 1994. Turfway starts its fall meet Sept. 5.