The 2023 Claiming Crown will be staged for the first time since 2011 at the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots in New Orleans on Saturday, Dec. 2, announced Claiming Crown co-founders National HBPA and TOBA along with the Fair Grounds. The event will feature eight races totaling $1 million in base purses, headlined by the $200,000 Claiming Crown Jewel.
The 25th Claiming Crown marks the second straight year that the series has gone to a Churchill Downs Inc.-owned locale. The 2022 races were held for the first time at the company’s flagship track in Louisville after a 10-year-run at Gulfstream Park in Florida. The Fair Grounds staged a truncated version of the event in 2011, when the Claiming Crown moved from the summer to the late fall for the first time.
The Claiming Crown races are conducted under starter-allowance conditions, meaning they are restricted to horses that have competed at least once for a certain claiming level or cheaper during a designated time frame, in this case 2022 or 2023. Purses for the eight Claiming Crown races will range from $75,000 to $200,000 for the Jewel. Another $25,000 in each race will be available in purse supplements for accredited Louisiana-bred horses.
Conceived to be a Breeders’ Cup-style event for claiming horses, the Claiming Crown was created in 1999 by the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (NHBPA) and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA). The program gives thoroughbred racing’s workhorses, their owners and trainers a day in the spotlight in recognition of their importance to filling out race cards across the nation.
“Big Easy, here we come,” said Eric Hamelback, CEO of the National HBPA, who was raised in the Pelican State and graduated from Louisiana State University. “The Claiming Crown was designed to celebrate our hard-knocking, unsung heroes of the turf. What better place — especially for our 25th running — than New Orleans? Beyond what we know will be a festive atmosphere, the Fair Grounds is iconic in American racing history, first running races in 1838 and with a track surface long acclaimed among the best in the country.”
“We are honored and excited to return to the Fair Grounds and New Orleans,” said Dan Metzger, president of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association. “We would like to thank the Louisiana HBPA and Churchill Downs for their commitment to the event and the owners and trainers who will participate in the 2023 Claiming Crown for their support.”
“We were thrilled with the response to the first Claiming Crown at Churchill Downs and look forward to bringing this wonderful event back to New Orleans,” said CDI Executive Director of Racing Gary Palmisano, who grew up in New Orleans and is the son of the late trainer Gary Palmisano Sr. “Fair Grounds played host to the Claiming Crown in 2011 but there is no denying this event is bigger and better than ever. We are excited to partner with the National HBPA, TOBA and the Louisiana HBPA to make 2023 among the best and the most memorable Claiming Crowns ever.”
The eight 2023 Claiming Crown races all are for horses 3 years old and up, with two of those restricted to fillies and mares. Headlining the card is the $200,000 Jewel at 1 1/8 miles for horses that have started for a claiming price of $35,000 or less in 2022-23. Three other races — all on turf — will offer a $150,000 purse and have a $25,000 claiming requirement. Those races are the Emerald at 1 1/16 miles; its filly and mare counterpart, the Tiara; and the Canterbury Tom Metzen Memorial at 5 1/2 furlongs.
The other Claiming Crown races are the $100,000 Rapid Transit ($16,000 claiming requirement) at six furlongs; $100,000 Glass Slipper ($12,500 claiming requirement) at a mile for fillies and mares; $75,000 Iron Horse Kent Stirling Memorial ($8,000 claiming requirement) at 1 1/16 miles, and $75,000 Ready’s Rocket Express ($8,000 claiming requirement) at six furlongs.
The deadline to make horses eligible for the Claiming Crown is November 18, with entries to be taken November 25. Eligibility Request Forms will be available soon on the Claiming Crown website.
Past Claiming Crown venues include inaugural site Canterbury Park (1999-2001, 2003-2006, 2008-2010), Philadelphia Park (2002), Ellis Park (2007) and Gulfstream Park (2013-2021).