Updated on 09/17/2011 10:51AM

Record 446 nominations to the Triple Crown


The quest to win the Kentucky Derby is more popular than ever. A record 446 early nominations for this year's Triple Crown were received by Triple Crown Productions, it announced on Saturday night.

Included in that group are 12 of the 13 runners who were in last fall's Breeders' Cup Juvenile, including Vindication, the unbeaten champion 2-year-old colt of 2002.

The previous record for early nominations was 440, set in 2001.

The early nominations were due on Jan. 18, and cost $600. There is a second nomination stage on March 29, for those not previously nominated, but it will cost $6,000 at that point. A handful of horses are usually nominated at that stage.

Five fillies were nominated, but not Eclipse winner Storm Flag Flying, the unbeaten winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. Her trainer, Shug McGaughey, has repeatedly said Storm Flag Flying will remain in her own division and not face males.

Todd Pletcher has the most nominations among trainers, with 28. His mentor, D. Wayne Lukas, has 23. Other notable trainers with large numbers of nominees include Bob Baffert (17) and Ken McPeek (11).

Dubai-based Godolphin Racing Inc. has nominated 19 horses, the most among owners. All are trained by Saeed bin Suroor. Godolphin's contingent makes up half of the 38 horses who are based overseas and nominated to this year's Triple Crown.

This year's Kentucky Derby will be held on May 3, the Preakness Stakes on May 17, and the Belmont Stakes on June 7. Any horse who sweeps all three races will receive a $5 million bonus from Visa, which sponsors the Triple Crown.