Early nominations are now being accepted from owners and trainers of 3-year-old Thoroughbreds who hope their young horses have the talent to the compete in the 2014 Triple Crown, the coveted series of American classic races that includes the $2 million-guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I), the $1.5 million-guaranteed Preakness (GI) and the $1.5 million-guaranteed Belmont Stakes (GI).
Early Triple Crown nominations opened Jan. 2 and the deadline for acceptance of early nominees is Saturday, Jan. 25 at 11:59 p.m. (all times Eastern). The nomination of each horse must be accompanied by a fee of $600 to make that individual eligible to compete in the three-race series.
A late nomination period, which requires the payment of a $6,000 for each nominated 3-year-old, will open at 12 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 26 and runs through Saturday, March 22.
The 2013 Triple Crown series opens on Saturday, May 3 with the 140th running of the 1 ¼-mile Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. The 139th Preakness, the 1 3/16-mile second jewel, is set for Saturday, May 17 at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Md. The 146th running of the Belmont Stakes, its 1 ½-mile final leg, is scheduled for Saturday, June 7 at Belmont Park, in Elmont, N.Y.
The purses for the 2014 renewals of the Preakness and Belmont Stakes will be the richest in history. The Maryland Jockey Club and the New York Racing Association increased the purses for their respective Triple Crown races by $500,000. The boost to the Preakness purse is the first since an increase to $1 million-guaranteed in 1998, and the Belmont Stakes purse rose to the $1 million level that same year.
The Kentucky Derby purse climbed to $1 million guaranteed in 1996, and Churchill Downs raised it to its current $2 million level in 2005.
All Triple Crown nominations made by traditional mail during the early phase must be postmarked by the Jan. 25 closing date. Nominations also can be made online at www.TheTripleCrown.com, or via telephone with a designated representative from one of the three Triple Crown host tracks. Online and telephone nominations must be made prior to the 11:59 p.m. deadline on Jan. 25.
The 2013 Triple Crown series attracted 369 early nominations. Thirteen horses were added during the late nomination phase, which brought total Triple Crown nominations for 2013 to 382.
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 by points earned in the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” eligibility system, which debuted in 2013. If more than the maximum field of 20 horses is entered in the race, up to four “also eligible” entrants will be permitted. If one or more starters are scratched prior to 9 a.m. (Eastern) on Friday, May 2, also-eligible horse with the highest preference in the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” system will be allowed to replace the scratched horse or horses in the starting gate.
The field for the Preakness is limited to 14 starters, while the Belmont Stakes permits a maximum field of 16 horses.
Three-year-olds that were not nominated for the Triple Crown series during either the early or late nomination phases have a final opportunity to become eligible for the races through the payment of a supplemental nomination fee. Due at the time of entry for either the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness or the Belmont Stakes, the supplemental fee process makes a horse eligible for the remainder of the Triple Crown series. A supplemental nomination at the time of entry to the Kentucky Derby requires payment of $200,000. The fee is $150,000 if paid prior to the Preakness or $75,000 at time of entry to the Belmont Stakes.
Churchill Downs has adjusted its process, and supplemental nominations made prior to the Kentucky Derby will now be treated the same as original nominees. If one or more supplemental nominees possess sufficient points to qualify for the Derby field, they would be allowed to start over original nominees with lesser qualifications. Under its previous policy, Churchill Downs gave preference to original nominees to the Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown over supplemental nominees.
A sweep of the three Triple Crown races – one of the most difficult feats in all of sports – has been accomplished on only 11 occasions. The roster of Triple Crown winners includes Sir Barton (1919), Gallant Fox (1930), Omaha (1935), War Admiral (1937), Whirlaway (1941), Count Fleet (1943), Assault (1946), Citation (1948), Secretariat (1973), Seattle Slew (1977) and Affirmed (1978).
The 36-year gap since the most recent Triple Crown sweep by Affirmed in 1978 is the longest in the history of the series. The previous record was the 25-year span between the 1948 Triple Crown earned by Citation and Secretariat’s record-shattering three-race sweep in 1973.
The Triple Crown races produced three separate winners in 2013. Phipps Stable and Stuart Janney III’s Orb won the Kentucky Derby, Calumet Farm’s Oxbow earned the victory in the Preakness and Dogwood Stable’s Palace Malice took the Belmont Stakes.
A total of 51 3-year-olds have won two of the Triple Crown’s three races. Reddam Racing’s I’ll Have Another became the most recent to do so when he won the 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness, but did not compete in the Belmont Stakes.
Representatives of the Triple Crown host tracks include:
Representatives seeking nominations at various U.S. tracks prior to Jan. 25 include Churchill Downs’ Huffman and Dan Bork and Pimlico’s Blind at Gulfstream Park; Byrnes at Aqueduct; NYRA’s Panza and Santa Anita Racing Secretary Rick Hammerle at Santa Anita; Sandy Montgomery at Oaklawn Park; Director of Racing and Racing Secretary Alison DeLuca at Tampa Bay Downs; Racing Secretary Jason Boulet at Fair Grounds and Assistant Racing Secretary Tia Murphy at Turfway Park.