Nominations of talented and promising 3-year-old Thoroughbreds to compete in the races of the 2018 Triple Crown – the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (Grade I), the $1.5 million Preakness (GI) and the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (GI) – are due at the end of this week. 

The early deadline for online, telephone or faxed nominations to the 2018 Triple Crown is 11:59 p.m. (all times Eastern) on Saturday, Jan. 20. Each nomination must be accompanied by payment of a fee of $600 to make the individual Thoroughbred eligible to compete in any or all of Triple Crown contests.

A late nomination period, which requires the payment of $6,000 for each nominated 3-year-old, will open at 12 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 21 and continue through Monday, March 19. 

The 2018 Triple Crown opens on Saturday, May 5 with the 144th running of the 1 ¼-mile Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. The 143rd Preakness, its 1 3/16-mile second jewel, is set for Saturday, May 18 at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Md. The 150th running of the Belmont Stakes, the series’ 1 ½-mile final leg, is scheduled for Saturday, June 9 at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y.

 The Triple Crown races of 2017 were the second consecutive series in which each of the races had a different winner. Always Dreaming opened the series with victory in the Kentucky Derby, but the Preakness was won by Cloud Computing, who had not competing the first jewel of the Triple Crown. The 2017 Triple Crown was completed with a victory by Tapwrit in the Belmont Stakes.  

The most recent horse to sweep the Triple Crown races and to win more than one of the events in a single season is Zayat Stables’ homebred American Pharoah, who took all three races in 2015 for the Hall of Fame duo of trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Victor Espinoza.  American Pharoah was only the 12th 3-year-old, and the first since Affirmed in 1978, to sweep the American Triple Crown series. The 37-year gap between the Triple Crown triumphs by American Pharoah and Affirmed was the longest in the history of the series that dates to 1919, when Sir Barton became the first Thoroughbred to win all three classic races.

All Triple Crown nominations made by traditional mail during the early phase must be postmarked by the Jan. 20 closing date. Nominations can easily be made online at www.TheTripleCrown.com, by telephone with a designated representative from one of the three Triple Crown host tracks. Online, telephone and fax nominations must be completed prior to the 11:59 p.m. deadline on Jan. 20.

Last year’s early phase of Triple Crown nominations attracted 419 horses. An additional six Thoroughbreds were made eligible during the late nomination period to raise the overall total to 425. 

The Kentucky Derby field has been limited to 20 starters since 1975 and the horses that enter the starting gate for its 2018 renewal will again be determined by points earned in the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” eligibility system, which debuted in 2013. If entries to the Derby total more than the maximum field of 20, up to four “also eligible” entrants will be permitted. If one or more entrants scratch from the 20-horse Kentucky Derby field prior to 9 a.m. Friday, May 4, the also-eligible horse or horses with highest preference in the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” system assume the empty stalls in the starting gate.

The Preakness is limited to 14 starters and the Belmont Stakes permits a maximum field of 16 horses.

Three-year-olds that were not nominated to the Triple Crown during either the early or late nomination phases have a final opportunity to become eligible for the races through 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 $50,000 at time of entry to the Belmont Stakes.

Churchill Downs adjusted its entry process in 2014 to permit horses that are made supplemental nominations prior to the Kentucky Derby to be treated the same as original nominees. If one or more supplemental nominees possess sufficient “Road to the Kentucky Derby” points to qualify for the Derby field, they will be allowed to start over original nominees that possess lesser qualifications. Under its previous policy, Churchill Downs gave preference in all cases to early and late Triple Crown nominees.

The 12 winners of the Triple Crown are 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), Affirmed (1978) and American Pharoah (2015).  

Information on the Triple Crown nomination process – including a link to a print-and-mail nomination form – is available at www.theTripleCrown.com.

 Representatives of the Triple Crown host tracks include: