Triple Crown Nominations Up 9% from 2011

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8:17 pm EST

A total of 397 horses were made eligible during the early nomination phase to the Triple Crown.

Brisnet is providing free online past performances of all the 2012 Triple Crown nominees in PDF format at

The 138th Kentucky Derby, with a purse of $2,000,000, is set for May 5 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.  The second jewel of the Triple Crown is the 137th running of the $1 million Preakness Stakes will be run on May 19 at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Md.  The American classic series concludes with the 144th running of the Belmont Stakes on June 11 at Belmont Park.

All three Triple Crown races will be televised by NBC Sports and are scheduled to be broadcast on radio by the Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN).

The nomination total for the 2012 Triple Crown races is a 9.1 percent increase over the 364 early nominees for the three-race classic series a year ago.  The roster of 2012 early Triple Crown nominees is the largest since 2009, when 412 3-year-olds were made eligible during the early period.  This year's early nomination period, during which each nomination was accompanied by a $600 fee, closed on Jan. 21. A late period for nominations -- during which each nomination must be accompanied by a $6,000 fee -- will conclude on March 24.

Along with Hansen, Union Rags and Algorithms, winners of major stakes races on the list of early Triple Crown nominees include CashCall Futurity winner Liaison; Creative Cause, third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and winner of the Norfolk and Best Pal; Hopeful winner Currency Swap; Dixiana Breeders' Futurity winner Dullahan; unbeaten Kentucky Jockey Club winner Gemologist; and Delta Jackpot winner Sabercat.

Of this year's 397 nominations, 344 are colts and there are 37 geldings.  The list also includes 10 ridglings.

Horses bred in Kentucky again dominated the roster of Triple Crown nominees.  Of the 397 nominees, 303 were born in Kentucky.  Florida was next with 27 horses, followed by New York with 13 and California with 12.  Fourteen of the nominees were produced outside of the United States, a number that includes six horses bred in Ireland.

The list of nominees includes six fillies, and that group is headed by On Fire Baby, winner of the Golden Rod at Churchill Downs.  She ran third to nominee Junebugred when she faced males in Oaklawn Park's Smarty Jones on Jan. 16.

Ahmed Zayat's Zayat Stables LLC leads all owners with 13 nominees to the 2012 Triple Crown.  Robert LaPenta is next with 10, and Klaravich Stables Inc. has nine nominees, either on its own or in partnerships.

Five-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher, who scored his first Kentucky Derby victory with Super Saver in 2010, leads trainers for the third consecutive year with 32 Triple Crown nominees.  Pletcher was tied at 20 atop last year's list with Bob Baffert, who ranks second 21 nominated horses.  Steve Asmussen and Nick Zito are next with 15 nominees, and Dale Romans nominated 14.

There is a tie atop the roster of leading Triple Crown sires between two-time Breeders' Cup Classic winner Tiznow and Unbridled's Song, each with 12 Triple Crown nominees.  Malibu Moon and Street Sense, the winner of the 2007 Kentucky Derby whose first crop of foals are 3-year-olds, share the next spot with 11 nominees.   War Front sired 10, with Hard Spun and Smart Strike next with nine.

The Kentucky Derby field has been limited to 20 starters since 1975, and accumulated earnings in graded stakes races along the Road to the Triple Crown have determined the field for the 1 1/4le classic since 1986.  The field for the Preakness, the 1 3/16-mile second jewel of the Triple Crown, is limited to 14 starters, while Belmont Stakes, the Test of the Champion and finale of the series at 1 1/2 mile, permits a maximum field of 16.

--Edited Churchill Downs release