Led by 29 nominees from trainer Todd Pletcher, 369 horses were designated for the 2013 Triple Crown series prior to the Jan. 26 deadline for early nominations at a cost of $600 each.
This year's total of early nominees is down from the 398 horses made eligible during the early phase in 2012. Twenty more horses were added to the 2012 roster during the Triple Crown's late nomination phase, which lifted the final total to 418.
The late nomination period, which requires the payment of a $6,000 fee with each nominee, ends March 23 at 11:59 p.m. (EST).
The Triple Crown starts with the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands May 4 and is followed by the May 18 Preakness Stakes and June 8 Belmont Stakes, all grade I.
The roster of nominees is headed by Starlight Racing, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith's Shanghai Bobby , the 2-year-old champion of 2012 and winner of the Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I). Trained by Pletcher, Shanghai Bobby was upset by early Triple Crown nominee Itsmyluckyday in the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) in his first start of 2013.
Pletcher, who won the 2010 Derby with Super Saver and the 2007 Belmont with the filly Rags to Riches, is also represented Violence , winner of the CashCall Futurity (gr. I) and Nashua Stakes (gr. III); Overanalyze , winner of the Remsen (gr. II) and Belmont Futurity (gr. II); and the filly Dreaming of Julia, winner of the Frizette Stakes (gr. I).
Other accomplished 2013 Triple Crown nominees include Uncaptured, He's Had Enough, Goldencents , and Oxbow . He's Had Enough and Goldencents are both trained by Doug O'Neill, who won the 2012 Derby with I'll Have Another. Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who is tied with Sunny Jim Fizsimmons with 13 victories in Triple Crown races, trains Oxbow.
Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, who has saddled the winners of eight Triple Crown races, has a team of nominees headed by Power Broker , winner of the Frontrunner Stakes (gr. I).
Bluegrass Hall and Mary and Gary West each nominated seven horses to the Triple Crown to lead in total nominations by owners, either alone or in partnership. Darley Stable was next with six nominees. Charles Fipke, Alex and John Lieblong, Oxley, Kaleem Shah Inc., West Point Thoroughbreds, and WinStar Farm nominated five horses each.
Immediately behind Pletcher among trainers was Baffert, who trains 23 early nominees to the Triple Crown races. Ken McPeek and Nick Zito are next with 13 each, while Mark Casse and Lukas each designated 11 3-year-olds.
The leading breeders of 2013 Triple Crown nominees, either alone or in partnership, are Darley and Edward P. Evans, each of whom bred seven of the Triple Crown-eligible horses. Close behind are Ken and Sarah Ramsey and William S. Farish with six nominees. Diamond A. Racing Corp. and Fipke each bred five nominees.
Nine nominated horses are based outside of North America, including four from the stable of Ireland's Dermot Weld. Top Irish trainer Aidan O'Brien trains a pair of nominees.
The overall total of 369 Triple Crown nominees includes 325 colts. Along with the seven fillies, the remaining nominees include 28 geldings and nine ridglings.
The United States was the birthplace of 352 nominated horses. Of those, 263, or 71.3%, were born in Kentucky. Seventeen nominees were bred outside of the U.S. borders, headed by the 11 bred in Canada.
The Kentucky Derby field has been limited to 20 starters since 1975 and the horses that enter the starting gate for this year's running will be determined for the first time by points earned in the new "Road to the Kentucky Derby" eligibility system. The field for the Preakness is limited to 14 starters, while the Belmont Stakes permits a maximum field of 16 horses.
In addition to the two nomination periods, there is a final opportunity to become eligible for Triple Crown competition through a supplemental nomination. That process involves the payment of a fee, due at the time of entry for the Derby, Preakness, or Belmont that makes the horse eligible to run in the remaining races of the Triple Crown series. A supplemental nomination made at the time of entry for the Kentucky Derby requires a fee of $200,000, and the fee drops $100,000 if paid prior to either the Preakness or the Belmont Stakes