Essential Quality Tops 326 Early Triple Crown Nominees


Essential Quality | Horsephotos

Led by 2-year-old champion and two-time Grade I winner Essential Quality (Tapit), a total of 326 3-year-olds were made eligible to compete in this year's Triple Crown during the early nomination phase, which closed Jan. 23. Each of the 326 horses from the 2018 foal crop were made eligible through a $600 payment to compete in any leg of the Triple Crown series. The 2021 Triple Crown opens Saturday, May 1 with the 147th running of the GI Kentucky Derby at Churchill, continues with the 146th GI Preakness S. at Pimlico May 15 and closes with the 153rd running of the GI Belmont S. Saturday, June 5.

Essential Quality, owned by Godolphin, is scheduled to make his 3-year-old debut in the GIII Southwest S. Feb. 15 at Oaklawn, according to his trainer Brad Cox. The champion 2-year-old of 2020 was one of 14 horses Cox nominated to this year's Triple Crown series. Todd Pletcher led all conditioners with 45 horses nominated to the Triple Crown followed by Bob Baffert (23), Steve Asmussen (22) and Chad Brown (18). Godolphin led all individual owners with 11 horses nominated followed by Brad Kelley's Calumet Farm with 10. A total of 42 stakes winners were nominated as well as 13 fillies, led by champion Vequist (Nyquist). Into Mischief topped all sires with 20 nominees, followed by Curlin (14), Uncle Mo (14) and Constitution (13).

Horses not nominated during the early phase can be made eligible until Monday, Mar. 29 with a $6,000 payment. Any horse not nominated during the early or late phases can become Triple Crown eligible through payment of a supplemental nomination fee due at the time of entry for each Triple Crown race: the Kentucky Derby ($200,000), Preakness ($100,000) and Belmont ($50,000).

For a full list of nominees, click here.

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