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Top Horsemen Throughout North America Gearing Up for 10th Annual Claiming Crown at Canterbury Park


July 14, 2008     E-mail this page to a friend!

With the 10th annual Claiming Crown less than three weeks away, several of horse racing's top trainers and owners are already pointing their charges for an assault on the $600,000 up for grabs on August 2 at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minnesota.

Claiming Crown nominations have been received for horses representing 18 different states and Canada. Among the trainers planning to ship horses to the suburban Minneapolis racetrack in 2008 is Steve Asmussen, who is currently on pace to win a record 600 races this year. The trainer of 2007 Horse of the Year Curlin, Asmussen has three career Claiming Crown wins to his credit. The clear cut leading trainer with eight lifetime Claiming Crown wins is Scott Lake, who will make his annual pilgrimage to Canterbury in the hopes of padding his total. Mike Maker burst onto the Claiming Crown scene with three wins last year at Ellis Park and he will be well represented as he ventures northward to Minnesota in 2008. Others who will be at Canterbury this year are Tom Amoss, currently 10th on the trainer's win list in 2008, and also the year's 11th winningest trainer, Jamie Ness, who set a Tampa Bay Downs record with 68 wins during its most recent meeting.

Several prominent owners also have their sights set on this year's Claiming Crown. Ken Ramsey who, along with his wife Sarah, won the 2004 Eclipse Award as Champion Owner, has 11 nominees for 2008 after winning two Claiming Crown events last year. Rick Englander, the Eclipse Award-winning owner in both 2001 and 2002, is also expected to be a strong factor this year as he looks to add to his career total of four Claiming Crown victories. Maggi Moss, a finalist for Champion Owner in 2007 and currently the second leading owner in the nation by wins, will also have her colors represented at Canterbury on August 2.

Four previous Claiming Crown winners are among the 279 horses nominated to this year's renewal, and each would make history with a win. Bargainwiththedevil, Adore You and One Eyed Joker have all been nominated this year after emerging victorious last year in the Iron Horse, Glass Slipper and Emerald, respectively. Meanwhile 2005 winner Inhonorofjohnnie is being pointed for a second victory in her preferred event, the Tiara. In the nine-year history of Claiming Crown, no horse has won more than once.

Perhaps the single most intriguing nominee is the Ralph Martinez-trained Raving Rocket. Since being claimed for $4,000 by Martinez on March 16, 2007, for owner Louis O'Brien, the six-year-old son of Lil's Lad has won 12 of 13, including his last 11 in a row, all in sprints. During the 11-race streak, Raving Rocket has registered victories at seven different tracks: Churchill Downs, Turfway Park, Beulah Park, Hoosier Downs, Ellis Park, Fonner Park and Indiana Downs. His one loss for Martinez came the only time his current connections tried him on the grass. Raving Rocket is expected to start in either the $50,000 Express or the $75,000 Rapid Transit. Both races are at six furlongs.

“This year's Claiming Crown is shaping up as one of the best in the event's history,” said Nat Wess, Claiming Crown Coordinator. “We continue to receive strong nationwide interest from horsemen, and staging last year's event at Ellis Park appears to have paid a dividend in attracting more Kentucky-based horses up to Canterbury Park this year. We've always been confident that once someone experiences Claiming Crown, he or she will want to come back for more.”

Claiming Crown features seven races, with purses ranging from $50,000 to $150,000 and is open to horses that have started at least once in 2007-08 for claiming prices ranging from $7,500 to $35,000. The day's featured event is the Jewel, a mile and one-eighth event on the main track with a purse of $150,000. Also on the program are two mile-and-one-sixteenth races on the turf, three six-furlong dashes on the dirt and a mile and one-sixteenth main track contest. This year's event will mark the eighth time that Canterbury Park has hosted Claiming Crown. Race sponsors for 2008 include Bremer Bank, John Deere, Daily Racing Form and Allied Waste Services. For more information and race histories, please visit www.claimingcrown.com.