02/02/2013 12:04PM

Triple Crown nominations dip from a year ago to 369

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Tom Keyser
Champion Beholder is one of seven fillies nominated to this year's Triple Crown.

Led by the two 2-year-old champions of last year, the colt Shanghai Bobby and the filly Beholder, as well as Itsmyluckyday, the only horse to defeat Shanghai Bobby, a total of 369 3-year-olds were made early nominations to this year’s Triple Crown – the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes - Churchill Downs, the home of the Derby, announced on Saturday.

The 369 early nominations is a decline from last year’s 397, though a slight uptick from the 366 who were nominated at this stage in 2011. This marks the fourth time since 2001 – and the third time in the last four years - that the early nominations failed to reach 400, a reflection of smaller foal crops of recent years.

All of the horses announced as nominees on Saturday were made eligible for a $600 payment that was due one week earlier. Horses can still be nominated, but for $6,000, at a second deadline on March 23. There usually are about a dozen horses nominated at the second deadline.

:: TRIPLE CROWN NOMINATIONS: Full list with Beyer Speed Figures

This year’s Derby is May 4, with the Preakness at Pimlico on May 18, and the Belmont in New York on June 8. All three will be televised by NBC Sports.

There have been 11 Triple Crown winners, but no horse has swept the Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978. That is the longest drought of Triple Crown winners since it was first claimed by Sir Barton in 1919.

Other prominent nominees include Violence, the unbeaten winner of the CashCall Futurity, and He’s Had Enough, the runner-up in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile to Shanghai Bobby.

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

In addition to Beholder, just six other fillies were nominated, including stakes winners Dreaming of Julia, Spring Venture, and Unlimited Budget.

Todd Pletcher, the trainer of Shanghai Bobby, Violence, Dreaming of Julia and Unlimited Budget, leads all trainers with 29 nominees. Bob Baffert, a three-time Derby winner, has 23 nominees, including Flashback, who was scheduled to run in the Robert Lewis Stakes on Saturday. Doug O’Neill, who won the Derby and Preakness last year with I’ll Have Another, has eight nominees, most notably He’s Had Enough, who also was to run in the Lewis, and Sham Stakes winner Goldencents. Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien has two of his horses nominated.

Gary and Mary West, the owners of Flashback, and Brad Kelley’s Bluegrass Hall LLC lead all owners with seven nominees each.

Tapit, the sire of Flashback and He’s Had Enough, leads all sires with 14 of his offspring nominated. Unbridled’s Song is next with 11.

Among breeders, Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley and the late Edward P. Evans lead with seven nominees each.

Of the 369 nominees, 263 were born in Kentucky.