Nyquist among 368 nom­i­nated to Triple Crown

Daily Racing Form National Digital Edition - - News - By Jay Priv­man Fol­low Jay Priv­man on Twit­ter @DRFPriv­man

Led by Eclipse Award win­ner Nyquist as well as a pair of prom­i­nent prospects–Green­point cru­sader and Mo­hay­men–who are sched­uled to race Satur­day in the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulf­stream Park, a to­tal of 368 3-year-olds are early nom­i­nees to this year’s Triple Crown, Churchill Downs an­nounced Thurs­day.

One highly re­garded horse who was not nom­i­nated was Song­bird, the cham­pion 2- yearold filly of last year, but that was ex­pected be­cause trainer Jerry Hol­len­dor­fer has re­peat­edly said she is not a can­di­date for the May 7 Ken­tucky Derby and will in­stead have the May 6 Ken­tucky Oaks as her main goal this spring.

The num­ber of early nom­i­na­tions is a sig­nif­i­cant de­cline from last year, when 429 horses were nom­i­nated at the early stage. It is the fewest since 2011, when 364 horses were early nom­i­nees. The record num­ber of early nom­i­nees is 450 in 2007, but the foal crop of 2004 – which pro­duced the 3-year-olds of 2007 – was sig­nif­i­cantly larger (37,948) com­pared with the es­ti­mated 23,500 foals born in 2013, which pro­duced this crop. By per­cent­age of nom­i­nees to foals, this year’s rate (1.56 per­cent) is higher than in 2007 (1.18 per­cent) and is the third-best per­cent­age since 1986, when the Triple Crown races were first brought to­gether un­der a sin­gle nom­i­na­tion. Prior to that, horses were nom­i­nated sep­a­rately to the three races.

Last year, Amer­i­can Pharoah be­came only the 12th horse to sweep the Triple Crown and the first since Af­firmed in 1978. The Triple Crown con­sists of the Ken­tucky Derby at Churchill Downs, the Preak­ness at Pim­lico on May 21, and the Bel­mont Stakes at Bel­mont Park on June 11. All are tele­vised by NBC Sports. The Derby purse is $2 mil­lion, with the Preak­ness and Bel­mont worth $1.5 mil­lion each, for a to­tal prize pack­age of $5 mil­lion in the three races.

All those an­nounced as nom­i­nees Thurs­day were made el­i­gi­ble through a pay­ment of $600 due Jan. 16. For those not yet nom­i­nated, there is a se­cond dead­line March 21, though the cost in­creases to $6,000. Last year, there were nine late nom­i­nees, for a to­tal of 438 to­tal nom­i­na­tions.

Horses also can be sup­ple­mented to each of the Triple Crown races, be­gin­ning with a $200,000 pay­ment prior to the Derby, which would be due on en­try day, May 4, and would make a horse el­i­gi­ble to all three Triple Crown races.

Nyquist won all five of his starts last year, in­clud­ing the Breed­ers’ Cup Ju­ve­nile at Keeneland. He is owned by Paul Red­dam, trained by Doug O’Neill, and his reg­u­lar rider is Mario Gu­tier­rez, all of whom teamed to win the Ken­tucky Derby and Preak­ness in 2012 with I’ll Have An­other.

Green point cru­sader scored the big­gest win of his ca­reer in the Cham­pagne Stakes. He was sev­enth in the BC Ju­ve­nile in his last start.

Mo­hay­men has won all three of his starts, in­clud­ing the Rem­sen Stakes at Aqueduct.

Other prom­i­nent nom­i­nees in­clude Hit It a Bomb, the win­ner of the Breed­ers’ Cup Ju­ve­nile Turf; Brody’s Cause, Mor Spirit, and Ralis, all of whom won Grade 1 races at age 2; and Swipe, se­cond to Nyquist in three Grade 1 races last year, in­clud­ing the BC Ju­ve­nile.

A mere three fil­lies – Flora Dora, Northwest Tale, and Royal Ob­ses­sion – were nom­i­nated to the Triple Crown. There were 11 fil­lies nomi- nated last year and 14 in 2014.

Bob Baf­fert, who trained Amer­i­can Pharoah and this year is rep­re­sented by Mor Spirit, led all train­ers with 35 nom­i­nees, top­pling Todd Pletcher from his usual perch atop the nom­i­na­tion list. Pletcher is se­cond with 28. He had 34 early nom­i­nees last year and a record 42 in 2014.

Chad Brown has 12 nom­i­nees. Mark Casse, the trainer of the highly re­garded Airo­force, has 11.

The Zayat Sta­bles of Ahmed Zayat, which bred and owned Amer­i­can Pharoah, leads all own­ers with 15 early nom­i­nees. Brad Kel­ley’s Calumet Farm is next with 11.

Charles Fipke leads all breed­ers with 11 nom­i­nees. Calumet and Frank Stronach’s Adena Springs are next with eight each.

Un­cle Mo leads all sires with 19 nom­i­nees from his first crop. Tapit is next with 16 – in­clud­ing Zi­conic, the un­raced son of the great mare Zeny­atta – fol­lowed by Bernar­dini with 13.

Eight run­ners were bred out­side the United States or Canada. There are 14 nomi- nated run­ners cur­rently based out­side North Amer­ica, in­clud­ing the Ja­panese-based run­ner Lani. Der­mot Weld leads all over­seas train­ers with five nom­i­nees, fol­lowed by Ai­dan O’Brien, the trainer of Hit It a Bomb, with four.

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