One year after Zayat Stables’ 2015 Horse of the Year American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile)’s historic Triple Crown sweep, a total of 368 3-year-olds were nominated for the 2016 Triple Crown during the first nomination phase. The series will consist of the 1 1/4-mile, $2 million GI Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands at Churchill Downs May 7, the 1 3/16-mile $1.5-million GI Preakness S. at Pimlico Race Course May 21 and the 1 1/2-mile $1.5-million GI Belmont S. at Belmont Park June 11. The early nominations total was the smallest since 2011, when there were 364 nominees. Later nominees will be required to pay a $6,000 nomination fee open until Mar. 21 at 11:59 p.m. Supplemental nominations after the first two nomination phases during the time of entry for each race will be $200,000 for the Kentucky Derby, $150,000 prior to the Preakness S. and $75,000 before the Belmont S.
The nominations list is headed by the Doug O’Neill-trained Reddam Racing LLC-owned undefeated 2015 Eclipse champion juvenile male Nyquist (Uncle Mo), who is campaigned by the same connections as 2012 Eclipse champion 3-year-old male and Kentucky Derby/Preakness S. hero I’ll Have Another (Flower Alley).
Other young hopefuls include Albaugh Family Stables’
GI Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity hero Brody’s Cause (Giant’s Causeway); Michael Lund Petersen’s GI Los Alamitos Futurity scorer Mor Spirit (Eskendereya); St. Elias Stable, MeB Racing Stables LLC and Brooklyn Boyz Racing LLC’s GI Champagne S. winner Greenpointcrusader (Bernardini); Reddam Racing LLC’s GI Hopeful S. hero Ralis (Square Eddie); John C. Oxley’s GII Kentucky Jockey Club winner Airoforce (Colonel John); Goldolphin Racing LLC’s GII Belmont Futurity S. victor Annual Report (Harlan’s Holiday); Shadwell Stables’ undefeated MGSW Mohaymen (Tapit); Big Chief Racing LLC’s MGSW Exaggerator (Curlin); and MGISP Swipe (Birdstone) runner-up in the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, racing for Big Chief Racing LLC, Fizzy Racing LLC, Rocker O Ranch LLC and Desormeaux et al.
Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, one year removed from sending out American Pharoah to bring his lifetime Classic victories as a trainer to 12, leads all trainers with 35 3-year-old nominations, among them the aforementioned Mor Spirit, GIII Sham S. one-two Collected (City Zip) and Let’s Meet in Rio (Flatter); GSW and GI Los Alamitos Futurity runner-up Toews On Ice (Archarcharch), and ‘TDN Rising Star’ Drefong (Gio Ponti).
Seven-time champion trainer Todd Pletcher fields 28, down from 34 in 2015. Chad Brown has 12 nominees, Mark Casse 11, D. Wayne Lukas, who holds the record of American Classic victories at 14, trains 10, as does Mike Maker.
Zayat Stables leads the owners’ list with 15 nominees, while Calumet Farm, who leads all owners with 18 American Classic wins with 18, has 11 horses nominated. Charles Fipke (10) rounds out the owners with double-digit entries.
Of the 368 nominees, 327 are colts, 30 are geldings, eight are ridglings and three fillies. With Eclipse champion juvenile filly Songbird (Medaglia d’Oro) not among the first-phase nominees, undefeated ‘TDN Rising Star’ Royal Obession (Tapit) leads the way for the fairer sex.
The top overseas representative of 17 is GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf hero Hit It a Bomb (War Front).
To view the complete list of nominees click here.