October 3, 2013 — A record 283 trainers throughout North America have made themselves eligible to nominate horses for the eight-race, $1 million Claiming Crown scheduled to be hosted for the second time by Gulfstream Park on Saturday, Dec. 7.
The list of nominated trainers includes Mike Maker, Todd Pletcher, Nick Zito, Doug O’Neill, Dale Romans, Allen Jerkens, Kiaran McLaughlin, Graham Motion, Richard Mandella, Wayne Catalano, Ken McPeek, Wesley Ward, John Sadler, Eddie Plesa Jr., Marty Wolfson, David Jacobson, Mark Casse, Roger Attfield, Ian Wilkes, Ralph Nicks, Michael Matz, Chad Brown and Peter Walder.
Maker saddled the winners of four of seven Claiming Crown races run last year at Gulfstream, all for the event’s leading owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey. Maker leads all trainers with 11 Claiming Crown victories.
For the second time in the 15-year history of the Claiming Crown, trainers were asked to pay a $100 fee to be eligible to nominate any horse or horses in their stables for the Claiming Crown, which will offer purses ranging from $110,000 to $200,000. The deadline for eligible trainers to nominate specific horses for the Claiming Crown races is Nov. 15.
“Once again the response from horsemen throughout North America to the Claiming Crown at Gulfstream has been fantastic,” said Gulfstream Park President Tim Ritvo. “We were able to set Claiming Crown records last season due to the competitive fields and our great fans and we’re looking forward to another great event on December 7.”
Held at Gulfstream for the first time last Dec. 1, the Claiming Crown was a rousing success with $12.8 million wagered on the Opening Day card of the 2012-2013 Champion’s Meet, representing a 66-percent increase over the prior year’s opener.
“I want to thank all the trainers who submitted nominations for this year’s Claiming Crown. With one million dollars in purses this year, the Claiming Crown at Gulfstream Park will be bigger and better than ever,” said Phil Hanrahan, CEO of the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA). “I want to encourage nominated trainers and owners to review the race conditions for each of the eight Claiming Crown races, which can be found at the Claiming Crown’s website, www.claimingcrown.com, and to enter their existing horses or to claim eligible horses before the Nov. 15 regular nomination deadline.”
The Claiming Crown, created to be the claiming horse owner’s Breeders’ Cup, is a partnership between the HBPA and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association.
“We’re very pleased by the response from the trainers,” said Dan Metzger, President of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association. “There are a number of new names from around the country on the list of nominees and that illustrates the expanding reach of the Claiming Crown. This show of support from the trainers should enable us to card full, competitive fields and provide fans with a great day of racing.”
“Last year’s Claiming Crown was a big success, and it looks like it will be even better this year,” said Phil Combest, the Florida HBPA President. “Horsemen from around the country have nominated, and there’s a lot of buzz.”