02/01/2014 2:01PM

Triple Crown nominations up markedly from a year ago

Barbara D. Livingston
Champagne winner Havana is one of a record 42 horses nominated to the Triple Crown by Todd Pletcher.

Led by Eclipse Award winner Shared Belief, Holy Bull winner Cairo Prince, and a record-setting 42 nominations from a single trainer, Todd Pletcher, a total of 413 3-year-olds were announced on Saturday by Churchill Downs as the nominees to the 2014 Triple Crown.

The 413 nominees were made eligible through payment of $600 that was due on Jan. 25. For those not yet nominated, there is a second deadline on March 22, though the cost increases to $6,000. There are usually about a dozen nominees at that stage. Horses also can be supplemented to each of the Triple Crown races, beginning with a $200,000 payment prior to the Derby that would be due on entry day, April 30, and would make a horse eligible to all three Triple Crown races.

The Triple Crown consists of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 3, the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on May 17, and the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on June 7, all televised by NBC Sports. Both the Preakness and the Belmont raised their purses for this year by $500,000, to $1.5 million apiece. The Derby is worth $2 million, bringing the total prize money available in the three races to $5 million.

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

The 413 nominations is a welcome and surprising jump of nearly 12 percent from the 369 nominations made at this stage one year ago. It is the first time more than 400 horses have been nominated to the series since 401 were made eligible at the early deadline in 2009. In three of four subsequent years, the early nominations failed to reach the 400 mark, likely due to the decline in foal crops in recent years. The record is 450 in 2007.

With 42 of the 413 nominees, Pletcher has more than 10 percent of those nominated. Pletcher has won three Triple Crown races, including the Derby in 2010 with Super Saver. His best-known prospect for this year’s Triple Crown races is Havana, the Champagne Stakes winner, though he has a number of late-developing prospects. Pletcher won last year’s Belmont with Palace Malice.

Pletcher nominated two fillies, Onlyforyou and Stopchargingmaria. There are 12 other fillies among the 413 nominees, most notably Ria Antonia, the winner via disqualification of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. She’s a Tiger, the champion of that division despite being disqualified in the BC Juvenile Fillies, was not nominated, but that is not a surprise, as her connections have said they have no intention of taking on males.

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

Bob Baffert, a three-time Derby winner, is second to Pletcher in nominees among trainers with 18.

Shug McGaughey, who won last year’s Derby with Orb, has five nominees, including such well-regarded runners as Honor Code and Top Billing.

D. Wayne Lukas, who won last year’s Preakness with Oxbow, has 12 nominees, headed by Strong Mandate, the winner of the Hopeful Stakes last year.

Ireland’s Aidan O’Brien nominated four horses to lead trainers based overseas.

The partnership of Susan Magnier and Michael Tabor has 13 nominees to lead owners. A dozen of those 13 runners are co-owned with Derrick Smith.

WinStar Farm, which won the 2010 Derby with Super Saver, leads all breeders with nine nominations, either alone or in partnerships.

Bernardini and Tapit lead all sires with 16 of their respective offspring nominated.