Defending champ Sass, past winner Kaiser among entrants at Iditarod sign-up deadline

Thirty-four mushers signed up for the 2023 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race by the Nov. 30 early deadline.

Among the big names in the field are a pair of past winners: defending champ Brent Sass and 2019 champion Pete Kaiser.

The field isn’t necessarily set. Mushers can sign up until Feb. 11 but must pay a higher entry fee — $8,000 as opposed to the standard $4,000.

If no other mushers sign up, the field will be among the smallest in race history. Thirty-four mushers started the inaugural race in 1973. The next smallest field was in 1978, when 39 mushers started.

Sass, a Eureka-based musher, is a three-time winner of the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest. He broke through to win the Iditarod in 2022 after top 5 finishes in 2021 and 2020.

[Brent Sass holds off Dallas Seavey to seize his first Iditarod victory]

Outside of his 2019 win, Kaiser has six other top 10 finishes. The Bethel musher will be considered a strong contender in 2023.

Peter Kaiser Iditarod

For Jessie Royer, this will mark her 20th Iditarod start. She has 10 finishes in the top 10 including a pair of third-place showings in 2019 and 2020.

All mushers who register must go through the race’s qualifying review board before their entry is officially accepted.

Other notables in the field are Jessie Holmes (3rd in 2022) and Nicholas Petit (six top 10 finishes). Ryan Redington has top 10 finishes in the past three races, and Aniak musher Richie Diehl also has three top 10 finishes.

Plenty of big names appear to be sitting out the 2023 race. Five-time winner Dallas Seavey is not yet on the 2023 race roster. His father, three-time winner Mitch Seavey, isn’t signed up either, although Australia-born musher Christian Turner will be driving Mitch Seavey’s dogs in the 2023 race. Four-time winners Jeff King and Martin Buser are also absent from the 2023 roster.