A record 446 3-year-old Thoroughbreds have been nominated for the 2003 Kentucky Derby and the Visa Triple Crown.
GamingToday’s coverage of the Kentucky Derby and the Road to the Triple Crown begins this week and continues weekly through the Triple Crown races, culminating June 7 with the Belmont Stakes.
The previous record for Derby and Visa Triple Crown nominees was 440, which was established in 2001. This year’s total marked the third consecutive year in which the total at the first nomination deadline topped 400.
Beginning in next week’s issue, GamingToday will print the results of the major 3-year-old races leading up to the Kentucky Derby on May 3 and beyond.
In addition, GT will print updated future book odds, as well as the pari-mutuel betting pools that will be offered this spring. Covering the progress of the season will be veteran GT columnist Ed Golden on the West Coast, and staff writer Richard Saber, who also pens the popular Horses to Watch.
The 446 horses on the list are now eligible for the three-race series that includes the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness (GI) at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, MD on May 17, and the Belmont Stakes (GI) at Belmont Park in Elmont, NY on June 7. Additional fees to enter and start are required for each race. The early nomination stage required the payment of a $600 fee that was due by January 18.
Owners have two more opportunities to make their horses eligible to run in the Visa Triple Crown races. There is a March 29 deadline for late nominations for the three-race series, which requires a fee of $6,000. A horse may also be made a supplemental entry to the Visa Triple Crown for a fee of $150,000 when entries are taken for the Kentucky Derby or for smaller amounts before Preakness and Belmont Stakes.
Highlights of the early nominations list include:
”¡ 28 horses nominated by trainer Todd Pletcher, the largest total from a single training operation
”¡ 17 nominees from Dubai-based Godolphin Racing, the top total among owners of Derby nominees
”¡ 11 nominees bred by Overbrook Farm, easily the highest figure for a single breeder
”¡ 23 nominees by four-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer D. Wayne Lukas and 17 by three-time winner Bob Baffert, with the latter’s group headed by 2002 juvenile champion Vindication
”¡ 16 nominees sired by 1992 "Horse of the Year" A.P. Indy, who was scratched from that year’s Kentucky Derby because of injury but won the Belmont Stakes
”¡ Five nominated fillies””but that group doesn’t include 2002 juvenile filly champion Storm Flag Flying
Each race in the Visa Triple Crown carries a purse of $1 million. A horse that sweeps all three races in the Visa Triple Crown Challenge will receive a bonus of $5 million.