The foal class of 2019 sent 312 horses into nomination for this year’s Triple Crown series, a 4.3% drop from last year’s 326 nominations.
That, in turn, represents a 6.1% dip from the 347 nominations from 2020. It does, however, include a record 21 horses nominated from Japan. That’s a clear artifact from Japanese-based Marche Lorraine winning the Breeders’ Cup Distaff and fellow Japanese filly Loves Only You taking the Filly & Mare Turf.
Connections for each nominated horse paid $600 before the early nomination period closed on Jan. 29. Miss that deadline – and nine nominated horses did just that last year – and it costs you $6,000 to nominate a horse by the Monday, March 28 late deadline.
After that, the price of Triple Crown admission shoots into the stratosphere: $200,000 for the Kentucky Derby, $150,000 for the Preakness, and $50,000 for the Belmont Stakes.
Echo Zulu leads the filly parade of nominees
The 1 ¼-mile Derby opens the Triple Crown season on Saturday, May 7 at Churchill Downs. The 1 3/16-mile Preakness follows two weeks later (May 21) at Pimlico Race Course. The Belmont Stakes, longest of the American Classics at 1 ½ miles, wraps up the 2022 Triple Crown season on June 11 at Belmont Park.
Leading the parade are the juvenile winners of the 2-year-old Grade 1 races. That list starts with Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and American Pharoah Stakes winner Corniche. His Derby future odds climbed after the Daily Racing Form reported he is questionable for the Derby. The Bob Baffert-trainee is 22/1 at Circa Sports and 8/1 at Caesars-William Hill.
The list also includes Echo Zulu, one of six nominated fillies. She won three Grade 1s last year, including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, the Frizette, and the Spinaway.
Baffert’s colts could turn Preakness into the Triple Crown must-see race
Other Grade 1 juvenile winner nominees were the injured Jack Christopher (Champagne Stakes), Pinehurst (Del Mar Futurity), and Rattle N Roll (Breeders’ Futurity). Like Corniche, Pinehurst is a Baffert colt who is currently ineligible for the Derby due to the trainer’s suspension. He would be eligible for the Preakness and, possibly, the Belmont, pending the results of Baffert’s hearing with the New York Racing Association.
Like he did last year, Todd Pletcher led all trainers with 42 nominated horses. He had 45 last year. Following Pletcher were the usual A-list training suspects, including Brad Cox (26), Chad Brown (23), Steve Asmussen (20), and Baffert (18).
Siena Farm led all owners with 24 nominees. Anthony Manganaro’s farm split that evenly among two different consortium partnerships.
Gun Runner skipped the American Classics, makes up for it as sire
Gun Runner broke Into Mischief’s hammerlock on the top sire among nominated horses. He sired 16. Into Mischief came next with 14, six fewer than last year. Quality Road (12), Tapit (11), and the quartet of Arrogate, Curlin, Nyquist, and Uncle Mo wrapped up the top-five with nine each. Tapit sired last year’s Belmont winner, Essential Quality.
There were 25 stakes winners nominated, down from last year’s 42. That’s partially a byproduct of multiple winners such as Corniche, Echo Zulu, Messier, and Newgrange. Echo Zulu ($1,480,000) and Corniche ($1,262,000) are the two millionaires on the list.
As usual, Kentucky bred the most nominees among the states, with 250 of the 312 nominated horses or 80.1%. New York was a distant second again (14), followed by Florida (13), Pennsylvania (four), California (three), Louisiana and Maryland (two each), and Illinois (one). Canada and Ireland contributed three nominations each.