Thoroughbred owners and trainers who wish to make their late-blooming 3-year-olds eligible to compete in the 2012 Triple Crown series of classic American races have until Saturday, March 24 to add their horses to the roster of late nominations to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I), the Preakness (GI) and the Belmont Stakes (GI).

A payment of $6,000 must accompany each nomination made during the late phase of Triple Crown nominations, which will close on Saturday at 11:59 p.m. (all times Eastern).  This year’s early nomination period, during which each nomination was accompanied by a $600 fee, closed on Jan. 21 with 398 horses made eligible to seek an elusive sweep of the coveted three-race series.

The 2012 Triple Crown series begins at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. on Saturday, May 5 with the 138th running of the $2 million-guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI). The second jewel of the Triple Crown is the 137th running of the $1 million Preakness Stakes (GI), which will be run on Saturday, May 19, at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Md.  The American classic series concludes with the 144th running of the Belmont Stakes (GI) on Saturday, June 9 at New York’s Belmont Park.

The total of 398 nominees in the early nomination phase was a 9.3 percent increase from 364 horses nominated for the series during the same period in 2011.  The 2012 early total was the largest since 2009, when the early period yielded 412 nominees.

Last year’s nomination period added 13 3-year-olds to 2011’s Triple Crown nominations and raised the overall total to 377.  Among last year’s late nominations was George and Lori Hall’s Ruler On Ice, who would later win the Belmont Stakes.  In doing so, he defeated the winners of the year’s first two Triple Crown races: Michael Lauffer and Bill Cubbedge’s Preakness winner Shackleford (fifth) and Team Valor’s homebred Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom (sixth).

All nominations made by traditional mail during the late nomination phase must be postmarked on or before March 24.  Triple Crown nominations can also be made online at, 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 Saturday.

Triple Crown nomination contacts at the host tracks are:

  • Churchill Downs: Senior Vice President of Racing Don Richardson ([email protected]) and Racing Secretary Ben Huffman ([email protected]). The telephone number for nominations at Churchill Downs Racing is (502) 638-3825 and its fax number is (502) 638-3915;
  • Pimlico: Racing Secretary/Director of Racing Georgeanne Hale ([email protected]) and Stakes Coordinator Coley Blind ([email protected]);
  • Belmont Park: Vice President and Director of Racing P.J. Campo ([email protected]). 

The Kentucky Derby field has been limited to 20 starters since 1975, and accumulated earnings in prestigious graded stakes races along the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” have determined the field for the 1 ¼-mile classic since 1986.  The field for the Preakness, the 1 3/16-mile second jewel of the Triple Crown, is limited to 14 starters, while Belmont Stakes, the “Test of the Champion” and finale of the series at 1 ½ miles, permits a maximum field of 16 horses.

A Triple Crown sweep – one of the most difficult feats in all of sports – has been accomplished on just 11 occasions: Sir Barton (1919), Gallant Fox (1930), Omaha (1935), War Admiral (1937), Whirlaway (1941), Count Fleet (1942), Assault (1946), Citation (1948), Secretariat (1973), Seattle Slew (1977) and Affirmed (1978). Fifty other horses have finished one win shy of the honor. The current 33-year streak without a Triple Crown winner is the longest in the history of the series.  The previous record was a 25-year gap between the Triple Crown earned by Citation in 1948 and Secretariat’s stunning sweep in 1973.

All three 2012 Triple Crown races will be televised live by NBC Sports.  Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN) will provide national radio coverage of the three American classic races.

Free Brisnet Ultimate Past Peformances of early nominees to the 2012 Triple Crown are available at The past performances are provided by Brisnet in the PDF format.