A total of 90 horses spread over eight races were entered today for next Saturday’s 25th Claiming Crown, to be held for the first time since 2011 at New Orleans’ Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.

Trainer Mike Maker — whose all-time record 21 Claiming Crown victories include two last year at Churchill Downs — and Robertino Diodoro lead the way with seven entries apiece. For Maker, that includes four in the 12-horse $150,000 Claiming Crown Emerald at 1 1/16 miles on turf, headed by Grade 1 United Nations winner Therapist. Diodoro’s trio in the $200,000, 1 1/8-mile Jewel’s field of nine includes Lone Star Park’s Grade 3 Steve Sexton Mile winner Frosted Grace.

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.

“My owners like the Claiming Crown,” Maker said. “When we see a horse we think about claiming and they’re eligible, that’s a factor for sure. The Claiming Crown is great. I like the idea, too, that they’re moving it around, drawing attention to different tracks and the event.”

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.

Saturday’s eight 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 Jewel for horses that have started for a claiming price of $35,000 or less in 2022-23. Three other races — all on turf — offer a $150,000 purse and have a $25,000 claiming requirement. Those races are the Emerald; 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. Each race has another $25,000 available in purses for accredited Louisiana-breds.

The fewest entries in a race is nine (the Tiara and Jewel), with four races attracting at least 12 entrants.

“We’re thrilled with the response to the first Claiming Crown in New Orleans in 12 years,” said National HBPA CEO Eric Hamelback. “The Kentucky horsemen really hit the entry box. There’s good representation from all over the Midwest, Louisiana, the Mid-Atlantic and Florida. These races offer full fields and promise to be entertaining and provide challenging handicapping. One thing’s for sure: Win or lose, everyone will eat well down there in the Big Easy. Without question, this would not have been possible without the support of the Louisiana HBPA.”

The New York-bred Therapist was an eight-time stakes-winner heading into 2022, when he was dropped into claiming races for the first time, being claimed for $80,000 and then for $25,000. That race made Therapist eligible for the Claiming Crown. Out-shook for Therapist for $25,000, owner Michael Dubb and Maker succeeded in landing the gelding for $50,000 in his next start. Two races later he won Gulfstream Park’s Grade 2 PanAmerican as Plan B after a starter-allowance race didn’t get enough entries to be used. Three races after that Therapist won Monmouth Park’s Grade 1 United Nations at age 8.

The late-running Therapist is a horse who needs a certain set-up that didn’t happen in his last two starts: eighth in Kentucky Downs’ $1.7 million FanDuel Kentucky Turf Cup (G2) and seventh in Keeneland’s Sycamore (G3).

“He’s a horse who prefers firm going and he needs a (fast) pace, and he didn’t get either in his last two starts,” Maker said.

While shortening up from 1 1/2 miles to 1 1/16 miles, Therapist also gets a class break, with Maker adding with a grin: “He should be the only Grade 1 winner in there.”

Among the other entries:

Trainer Joe Sharp’s six entrants include 2022 National HBPA Claiming Horse of the Year Invaluable, last year’s Claiming Crown Glass Slipper winner for Maker. Sharp claimed Invaluable for $25,000 during Churchill Downs’ September meet.

In her last start, the 6-year-old mare was second in a Keeneland starter-allowance won by 12 3/4 lengths by Glass Slipper entrant Samarita. Owned by trainer Jose Rodriguez, it was Samarita’s sixth straight victory.

Norm Cash’s 6-year-old Beverly Park is back for another go at the $75,000 Ready’s Rocket Express. A 29-time career winner, Beverly Park prevailed in 15 of his 30 starts last year but finished fourth as the heavy favorite in last year’s Claiming Crown. This year he’s won four races out of “only” 15 starts. But the year is young. After last year’s Claiming Crown defeat, Beverly Park ran another four times before New Year’s, with three wins and a second.

This 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. In addition to the National HBPA, TOBA and the host track, the 2023 Claiming Crown is being staged in conjunction with the Louisiana HBPA.

The Fair Grounds was host to a truncated version of the event in 2011, when the Claiming Crown moved from the summer to the late fall for the first time. Other 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).