03/31/2003 1:00AM

Buddy Gil tops late noms


Buddy Gil, the recent winner of two graded stakes in California, is one of eight late nominees to this year's Triple Crown, bringing the total number of nominees to a record 454.

The other late nominees are New York Hero, the recent winner of the Lane's End Stakes; During, who has earned two 100-plus Beyer Speed Figures; Mr. Decatur, the winner of two stakes races at Sunland Park; Defrere's Vixen, who has run in three graded stakes at Fair Grounds this year; Herculated, an undefeated winner of two races; and maiden winners Fund of Funds and Mr. Amano.

The late-nomination deadline was midnight March 29. The late-nominating fee was $6,000, compared with $600 for foals who were nominated before Jan. 25. All nominated foals are eligible for the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes, along with a $5 million bonus for a horse who sweeps all three races.

Buddy Gil is the most accomplished of the late nominees. He has won both his starts since being turned over to trainer Jeff Mullins in Southern California early this year, following six races in northern California. A son of Eastern Echo, Buddy Gil won the Grade 3 Baldwin Stakes on the turf at Santa Anita and the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on the dirt.

The previous record for nominees was 452, set in 1986, the first year in which horses could be nominated for all three races with one fee.

Officials for Triple Crown Productions said that additional late nominees may arrive in the mail this week.

Final pool for Future Wager

Buddy Gil is expected to be one of the 23 individual betting interests in the third and final pool of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, which will be offered for four days beginning Thursday at noon Eastern.

The first Kentucky Oaks Future Wager also is being offered concurrently with Pool 3. The wagers are available at racetracks and wagering outlets in 34 states. Pool 3 and the Oaks wager close Sunday at 6:30 p.m.

Since the Future Wager was first offered by Churchill Downs in 1999, Pool 3 usually is three weeks before the Derby. But this year, because Palm Sunday falls on April 13, three weeks before the May 3 Derby, Churchill officials opted to move Pool 3 back a week.

"New York is dark on Palm Sunday, and we didn't want to lose them on what typically is a big day of wagering," said Churchill spokesman John Asher.

Daily Racing Form will publish a supplementary issue with past performances for all contenders in Pool 3 and the Oaks. The supplement hits the stands Wednesday.

Lineups for both future wagers were to be released Tuesday.

- additional reporting by Marty McGee