Early nominees for the 2018 American Triple Crown have been released and juvenile champion Good Magic and multiple Grade 1 winner Bolt d’Oro highlight an international roster of 360 three-year-olds who are now eligible. The early nomination phase, which required connections to pay a $600 fee, closed at 11:59 p.m. (ET) on January 13.
The 2018 Triple Crown begins with the 144th running of the $2 million Kentucky Derby (G1), a 1 ¼-mile test at Churchill Downs on May 5. Pimlico’s 143rd edition of the middle jewel, the $1.5 million Preakness (G1) at 1 3/16 miles, is scheduled for May 19. Contestants will stretch out to 1 ½ miles for the final leg, the 150th running of the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (G1) on June 9.
A late nomination period is now underway and requires a $6,000 fee by March 19. In 2017, 419 horses were nominated early and six more were added in the late phase to raise the final number to 425.
The Kentucky Derby is limited to 20 runners and eligibility for Triple Crown-nominated 3-year-olds is determined by points earned in the “Road to the Kentucky Derby series.” The Preakness permits a maximum field of 14 and the Belmont Stakes is restricted to 16.
Good Magic established himself as a leading Kentucky Derby contender when rolling to a 4 ¼-length decision in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). The sensational performance netted a 105 BRIS Speed rating and catapulted the son of Curlin to champion 2-year-old male honors. Good Magic is trained by Chad Brown, who earned his first Triple Crown race win in the 2017 Preakness, and is ridden by Jose Ortiz. They were named the leading trainer and jockey, respectively, during the recent 2017 Eclipse Award ceremonies.
Bolt d’Oro sustained his first career setback as the prohibitive 4-5 favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, checking in third after a disastrous slow start and extremely wide trip. The son of Medaglia d’Oro remains a top-ranked Kentucky Derby contender for Mick Ruis, recording dominant Grade 1 tallies in the FrontRunner and Del Mar Futurity, and the dark bay colt just picked up a commitment from Javier Castellano.
Good Magic is being readied at Gulfstream Park for his sophomore campaign and Bolt d’Oro will be contesting Santa Anita’s prep races.
After winning the 2017 Kentucky Derby with Always Dreaming, Todd Pletcher leads all trainers with 37 nominees to the 2018 Triple Crown. Four-time Kentucky Derby hero Bob Baffert, who is second all-time with 12 Triple Crown race wins, comes next with 32.
Steve Asmussen, a 2017 Hall of Fame inductee, has 17 nominees and is followed by Dale Romans (11) and Mark Casse (10).
Aidan O’Brien, the Irish-based conditioner for the mighty Coolmore operation, tops international trainers with six nominees including Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) scorer Mendelssohn, a half-brother to legendary Beholder.
Zayat Stables leads owners with 12 Triple Crown nominees, one more than WinStar Farm. Charles Fipke heads the breeders’ column with 11.
Tapit, who is responsible for three of the last four winners of the Belmont Stakes, tops all sires 22 early nominees, well clear of Pioneerof the Nile with 12. Candy Ride and Curlin are tied for third with 11.
Four fillies are among the 2018 Triple Crown nominees.