The number of horses eligible to compete in the 2012 Triple Crown rose to 418 after 20 3-year-olds were made eligible during the late nomination period that closed March 24. The number of nominees is the largest since a record 460 in 2007 and 2008.
The 20 late nominations is the largest number since 25 were added after the early period in 1993.
The Triple Crown races consist of the May 5 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) at Churchill Downs, the May 19 Preakness Stakes (gr. I) at Pimlico Race Course, and Belmont Park's June 9 Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
A payment of $6,000 was required during the late nomination phase. This year’s early nomination period closed Jan. 21 with 398 nominees paying $600 to be eligible for the three American classic races.
The most accomplished of the horses on the list of Triple Crown late nominations include Shivananda Parbhoo’s Trinniberg, winner of the Swale Stakes (gr. III); J. Kirk and Judy Robison’s Isn't He Clever, runner-up in the March 25 Sunland Derby (gr. III) and winner of the Borderland Derby; Starlight Stable’s Heavy Breathing, third to Went the Day Well in the March 24 Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes (gr. III) at Turfway Park; owner-trainer Fred Seitz’s Flashy Dresser, winner of Turfway’s Rushaway Stakes; Magic City Thoroughbred Partners’ Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III) runner-up Golden Ticket; and Stephen R. Brown’s Jake Mo, runner-up to Castaway in a division of Oaklawn Park’s Southwest Stakes (gr. III).
This year’s group of late nominees includes one filly and five geldings. Thomas Ruden Post’s Pick and Choose is the lone female among the late nominees. She has yet to run for trainer Mike Passero. The geldings are Comisky's Humor, Explain, Isn’t He Clever, Romancing the Gold, and Z Rockstar.
Seven of the 20 horses have earnings in graded stakes races to their credit. Kentucky Derby participation is limited to the top 20 horses with earnings in graded stakes events. That group includes Isn’t He Clever ($188,000), Trinniberg ($174,500), Jake Mo ($85,000), Golden Ticket ($70,000), Heavy Breathing ($47,000), Saturday Launch ($1,000), and Z Rockstar ($1,000).
The 20 late nominees are:
Guyana Star Dweej
Isn’t He Clever
Pick and Choose
Romancing the Gold
The Lumber Guy
Owners and trainers have one more opportunity to make their horses eligible to compete in the Kentucky Derby. Supplemental nominations can be made at the time of entry on Wednesday, May 2, at a cost of $200,000, or 10% of the $2 million-guaranteed purse. Preference will be given in the Derby to horses made eligible during the early and late nomination phases over supplemental nominees.
All three 2012 Triple Crown races will be televised live by NBC Sports. Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN) will provide national radio coverage of the American classic races.