Forte leads 369 early Triple Crown nominees

Forte leads 369 early Triple Crown nominees
Photo: Alex Evers / Eclipse Sportswire

Led by 2-year-old champion and three-time Grade 1 winner Forte, 369 3-year-old Thoroughbreds were made eligible to compete in this year’s Triple Crown series during the early nomination phase, which closed Jan. 28.

Each of the 369 horses from the 2020 foal crop were made eligible through a $600 payment to compete in any leg of the Triple Crown series. The 2023 Triple Crown opens May 6, with the 149th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. The 148th Preakness, its second jewel, is set for May 20 at Pimlico. The 155th running of the Belmont Stakes, the final leg of the series, is scheduled for June 10 at Belmont.

See HRN's rankings of Kentucky Derby 2023 contenders.

The number of early nominations rose by 18.2 percent, or 57 horses, from last year’s total of 312. The nominees include a record 37 horses based in Japan, 16 more than last year’s previous record of 21.

Forte, owned by Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable and campaigned by Todd Pletcher, is scheduled to make his 2023 debut in the coming weeks. The champion colt won last year’s Hopeful (G1), Breeders’ Futurity (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Forte is one of 36 horses nominated by Pletcher to this year’s Triple Crown.

Overall, 52 stakes winners were nominated to the Triple Crown. Some of the most notable: Arabian Knight (Southwest); Blazing Sevens (Champagne); Cave Rock (Del Mar Futurity); Curly Jack (Iroquois); Dubyuhnell (Remsen); Forte (Breeders’ Cup Juvenile); the filly Hoosier Philly (Golden Rod); Instant Coffee (Lecomte); Newgate (Robert B. Lewis); Practical Move (Los Alamitos Futurity); Rocket Can (Holy Bull); Two Phil’s (Street Sense) and Victory Formation (Smarty Jones).

Spenthrift Farm had 19 horses nominated to the Triple Crown of whom they are sole owners or involved in a partnership. The farm also bred two nominees.

Brad Cox led all trainers with 38 horses nominated to the Triple Crown including recent Lecomte Stakes (G3) winner Instant Coffee. Pletcher was next with 36 nominees, followed by Steve Asmussen (13), Kenny McPeek (13), Chad Brown (12) and Hideyuki Mori (12).

Horses not currently assigned a trainer or horses under the care of any trainer suspended from competing in the 2023 Kentucky Derby have their trainer listed as “to be determined.” For the Kentucky Derby, horses under the care of any suspended trainer or affiliates may be transferred to a non-suspended trainer and become eligible for earning Road to the Kentucky Derby points on a forward-looking basis so long as the transfer is complete by Feb. 28.

Early Triple Crown Nominees by the numbers:

• $3,550,000: Highest public auction purchase – Hejazi, 2022 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-olds in training sale.

• $1,595,150: Highest earnings of an individual horse nominated (Forte). The other top earners as of Feb. 3 are: Cave Rock, $748,000; Victoria Road, $663,779; Dura Erede, $633,186; and Private Creed, $618,913.

• $3,000: Lowest public auction purchase – Accident, 2021 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall yearling sale.

• 285: Number of Kentucky-bred horses. Other states represented are Florida (19), New York (19), California (5), Maryland (3), Pennsylvania (3), Oklahoma (2) and Texas (1).

• 161: Number of registered bay horses. Other registered colors are dark bay or brown (93), chestnut (74), gray or roan (39), brown (1), gray (1).

• 125: Number of trainers who nominated horses to the Triple Crown.

• 39: Horses who were foaled after Kentucky Derby Day, 2020 (May 6).

• 32: Horses foaled outside the U.S. Other countries are Japan (24), Ireland (4), Canada (3) and Great Britain (1).

• 17: Horses produced by sire Into Mischief. He’s followed by Curlin (15), Good Magic (14) and Justify (14).

• 2: Fillies nominated. They are Hoosier Philly and Julia Shining

Three-year-olds who were not nominated to the Triple Crown during the early nomination phase can be nominated with a late payment of $6,000 through March 27.

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