The 2012 total of 418 Triple Crown nominees is the largest since the record 460 in 2007 and 2008. There were 412 3-year-olds nominated in 2009 and 372 in 2010. Also, the 20 late nominations is the largest number since 25 were added after the early period in 1993.
The most accomplished of the horses on the list of Triple Crown late nominations include Shivananda Parbhoo’s Trinniberg, winner of the Swale (GIII); J. Kirk and Judy Robison’s Isn’t He Clever, runner-up in Sunday’s Sunland Derby (GIII) and winner of the Borderland Derby; Starlight Stable’s Heavy Breathing, third to Went the Day Well in Saturday’s Vinery Racing Spiral (GII) at Turfway Park; owner-trainer Fred Seitz’s Flashy Dresser, winner of Turfway’s Rushaway; Magic City Thoroughbred Partners’ Tampa Bay Derby (GIII) runner-up Golden Ticket; and Stephen R. Brown’s Jake Mo, runner-up to Castaway in a division of Oaklawn Park’s Southwest Stakes (GIII).
The 2012 Triple Crown series begins at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. on Saturday, May 5 with the 138th running of the $2 million-guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI). The second jewel of the Triple Crown is the 137th running of the $1 million Preakness Stakes (GI), which will be run on Saturday, May 19, at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Md. The American classic series concludes with the 144th running of the Belmont Stakes (GI) on Saturday, June 9 at New York’s Belmont Park.
Owners and trainers have one more opportunity to make their horses eligible to compete in the Kentucky Derby. Supplemental nominations can be made at the time of entry on Wednesday, May 2 at a cost of $200,000, or 10 percent of the $2 million-guaranteed purse. Preference will be given in the Derby to horses made eligible during the early and late nomination phases over supplemental nominees.
The 2011 late nomination period added 13 3-year-olds to last year’s Triple Crown nominations and raised the overall total to 377. Among last year’s late nominations was George and Lori Hall’s Ruler On Ice, who would later win the Belmont Stakes. In doing so, he defeated the winners of the year’s first two Triple Crown races: Michael Lauffer and Bill Cubbedge’s Preakness winner Shackleford (fifth) and Team Valor’s homebred Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom (sixth).
This year’s group of late nominees includes one filly and five geldings. Thomas Ruden Post’s Pick and Choose is the lone female among the late nominees. She has yet to run for trainer Mike Passero. The geldings are Comisky’s Humor, Explain, Isn’t He Clever, Romancing the Gold and Z Rockstar.
Seven of the 20 horses have earnings in graded stakes races to their credit. Kentucky Derby participation is limited to the top 20 horses with earnings in graded stakes events. That group includes Isn’t He Clever ($188,000), Trinniberg ($174,500), Jake Mo ($85,000), Golden Ticket ($70,000), Heavy Breathing ($47,000), Saturday Launch ($1,000) and Z Rockstar ($1,000).
One of the late Triple Crown nominees has international connections. That is Team Valor International’s Capitan Futuro (GB), purchased by the Kentucky-based partnership following a February maiden victory at Italy’s Capannelle Racecourse. The son of Dalakhani was sent to trainer John Hammond at France’s Chantilly.
All three 2012 Triple Crown races will be televised live by NBC Sports. Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN) will provide national radio coverage of the American classic races.