2012 Kentucky Derby nominees now total 418 after 20 added

Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes

There are now 418 horses eligible to compete in Thoroughbred racing’s coveted Triple Crown in 2012 after 20 promising 3 year olds were made eligible to compete in the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes during the late nomination period that concluded on Saturday, March 24.

The record for Triple Crown nominations is 460 horses which were nominated in both 2007 and 2008. This year’s total of 418 Triple Crown nominees is the largest since then.

A payment of $6,000 was required during this late nomination phase to make a horse eligible for Triple Crown participation. This year’s early nomination period, during which each nomination was accompanied by a $600 fee, closed on January 21 with 398 nominees to the three American classic races.

The most accomplished of the horses on the list of Triple Crown late nominations include Shivananda Parbhoo’s Trinniberg, winner of the Swale; J. Kirk and Judy Robison’s Isn’t He Clever, runner-up in Sunday’s Sunland Derby and winner of the Borderland Derby; Starlight Stable’s Heavy Breathing, third to Went the Day Well in Saturday’s Vinery Racing Spiral at Turfway Park; owner-trainer Fred Seitz’s Flashy Dresser, winner of the Rushaway at Turfway Park; Magic City Thoroughbred Partners’ Tampa Bay Derby runner-up Golden Ticket; and Stephen R. Brown’s Jake Mo, runner-up to Castaway in a division of Oaklawn Park’s Southwest Stakes .

The 2012 Triple Crown series begins at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. on Saturday, May 5 with the 138th running of the $2 million-guaranteed Kentucky Derby. The second jewel of the Triple Crown is the 137th running of the $1 million Preakness Stakes which will be run on Saturday, May 19 at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. The third jewel of the Triple Crown classic series concludes with the 144th running of the Belmont Stakes 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.

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 (Great Britian), purchased by the Kentucky-based partnership following a February maiden victory at Italy’s Capannelle Racecourse.

All three 2012 Triple Crown races will be televised live by NBC Sports. Replays can usually be seen on ESPN, HRTV and TVG. Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN) will provide live national radio coverage of the American classic races.