The Claiming Crown, which has seen unprecedented growth the past five years while being hosted at Gulfstream Park, will remain in South Florida through 2021.
Gulfstream, the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA), National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) and Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (FHBPA) announced Thursday a three-year agreement beginning in 2019 to hold the $1.1 million event at Gulfstream in December during its world-famous Championship Meet.
The Claiming Crown, a program of nine races designed to serve as a Breeders’ Cup-style championship for claiming horses – the mainstays of American racing – will be held this year on Saturday, Dec. 1 and be highlighted by the $200,000 Jewel. This is the final year of the previous agreement between Gulfstream, TOBA, the National HBPA and FHBPA.
Since first playing host to the Claiming Crown in 2013, total handle on the day’s program has grown from $8.8 million to last year’s record $11.115 million.
“We’re delighted to have the Claiming Crown back at Gulfstream through 2021,” said Gulfstream’s General Manager Bill Badgett. “The Claiming Crown has grown into an exciting event at Gulfstream and our fans look forward to kicking off the Championship Meet with this great series featuring many of the most popular horses in the country. We will continue growing this event along with our great partners from the National HBPA, Florida HBPA and TOBA.”
“President [Leroy] Gessmann and the Regional Vice Presidents of the National HBPA are extremely pleased to once again secure a partnership with the Florida HBPA, Gulfstream Park and The Stronach Group, to continue hosting the Claiming Crown for an additional three years beginning 2019,” said Eric Hamelback, CEO of the National HBPA. “This event has grown in popularity with owners, trainers, and handicappers, who are without question the backbone of our industry. I am pleased to work together with TOBA in creating an event which has become a highlight of each year’s racing calendar. Our goals, along with Gulfstream Park, will include raising the profile of the Claiming Crown with promotions throughout the country and qualifying races such as those found at Laurel Park and Kentucky Downs. We could not be more pleased to extend our partnership for an additional three years.”
“We are elated that Gulfstream Park will host the Claiming Crown for the next three years,” said Dan Metzger, president of TOBA. “TOBA has a valued relationship with The Stronach Group and we have been fortunate to host six editions of the Claiming Crown in South Florida on the opening weekend of the Championship Meet. The Claiming Crown has grown in stature and prestige and we are honored to continue our partnership with Gulfstream Park through 2021.”
“We’re very excited that the Claiming Crown will remain in South Florida for the next three years,” said Stephen Screnci, President of the Florida HBPA. “The Claiming Crown has become an opening day staple on the racing calendar here for local horsemen. A lot of horsemen might not participate in the event if it was held at another venue, so we look forward to it this year and many years to come.”