01/31/2015 2:01PM

Triple Crown races draw 429 early nominations

Barbara D. Livingston
American Pharoah was the champion 2-year-old male of 2014.

Led by Eclipse Award winners American Pharoah and Take Charge Brandi, along with Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Texas Red, a total of 429 3-year-olds were announced on Saturday by Churchill Downs as the early nominations to this year’s Triple Crown.

That total is an increase from last year’s 414 early nominations and marks the third-highest total of the past decade. The record number of early nominees is 450 in 2007, but the foal crop of 2004 – which produced the 3-year-olds of 2007 – was significantly larger (37,948) than the estimated 23,500 foals born in 2012, so, by percentage, this year’s number of nominations is considerably larger.

Click here to view complete list of nominations.

All those announced as nominees Saturday were made eligible through payment of $600 that was due Jan. 17. For those not yet nominated, there is a second deadline in March, though the cost increases to $6,000. There are usually about a dozen nominees at that stage. Last year, there were 10 late nominees, for a total of 424 nominations.

Horses also can be supplemented to each of the Triple Crown races, beginning with a $200,000 payment prior to the Kentucky Derby that would be due on entry day, April 29, 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 2, the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on May 16, and the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on June 6, all televised by NBC Sports. The Preakness and the Belmont raised their purses last year to $1.5 million apiece. The Derby is worth $2 million, bringing the total prize money available in the three races to $5 million.

Per usual, Todd Pletcher leads all trainers in nominations, this year with 34, a decrease from the record number of 42 of his trainees nominated last year. Chad Brown is second with 24, including Leave the Light On, who was injured this week – after the nomination deadline – and is off the Triple Crown trail.

Jerry Hollendorfer has 16 nominees, Bob Baffert 15, and D. Wayne Lukas 14, including the filly Take Charge Brandi.

Take Charge Brandi was one of 11 fillies nominated to the Triple Crown, including Condo Commando. There were 14 fillies nominated last year.

Almost all of the prominent 3-year-olds are nominated, including Calculator, Carpe Diem, Daredevil, Dortmund, El Kabeir, Firing Line, Imperia, Ocho Ocho Ocho, and Upstart.

The most notable absence is Exodus, who won the Allen’s Landing Stakes at Sam Houston last week for his second straight win. His trainer, Larry Jones, wants to keep him around one turn for now.

The nominees include a pair of unraced but eagerly watched runners, the first foals of Rachel Alexandra (Jess’s Dream) and Zenyatta (Cozmic One).

Curlin, the sire of Jess’s Dream, has 12 of his offspring nominated, tying him for second with Tiznow and behind only Tapit, who leads with 14.

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

Among owners – including partnerships – Calumet Farm has the most nominations with 15, followed by Charles Fipke with 10.

Darley and WinStar lead the breeders with 11 nominees apiece, one more than Stonestreet.

Only seven of the nominees are horses bred outside the United States or Canada. There are 12 horses nominated who are based outside the United States, including five from Aidan O’Brien and four from Dermot Weld, both those trainers based in Ireland.