The late nomination window for the races of the 2014 Triple Crown series is scheduled to close to owners and trainers of 3-year-old Thoroughbreds in North America and abroad on Saturday, March 22.
Late nominations by owners and trainers to make their 3-year-old Thoroughbreds eligible to compete in the three-race series, accompanied by a late nomination fee of $6,000, are due Saturday evening no later than 11:59 p.m. (Eastern Daylight Time).
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).
The early nomination phase for the 2014 Triple Crown races concluded on Jan. 25 with an international cast of 414 horses made eligible for the three-race series. The total is the highest since 2009, when 401 horses were made eligible for the three-race series during the early nomination phase. Eleven horses were nominated during the late phase that year to bring the overall total to 412.
Thirteen horses were made eligible for the Triple Crown during the late nomination period in 2013, a total that lifted the overall count of nominations to 382.
The 2014 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 the history of those classic races. 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 level in 2005.
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, the also-eligible horse or horses 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 Preakness field is limited to 14 starters and the Belmont Stakes allows a maximum of 16 horses.
Three-year-olds that were not nominated to the Triple Crown during its early and late nomination phases will have a final opportunity to become eligible to compete in one or all of those 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 adjusted its supplemental nomination process this year to allow nominations made prior to the Kentucky Derby to be treated the same as original nominees. If a supplemental nominee has collected sufficient points to qualify for the Derby field, that horse would be allowed to start over early or late nominees that possess 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 elusive 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 35-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 different 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 was the most recent to do so with victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in 2012. I’ll Have Another did not compete in the Belmont Stakes.