Although down slightly from last year’s 398 early nominees, 369 three-year-olds took advantage of the early nomination process for this year’s Triple Crown. Only horses made eligible to the Triple Crown can compete in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs May 4, the Preakness Stakes at Pimilico Race Course in Baltimore, MD May 18, or the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park in Elmont, NY June 8.
The early nomination period includes a nomination fee of $600 for those registering by the January 26 deadline. Late nominees are accepted now through March 23 and require a $6,000 nomination fee. Most owners are willing to risk the $600 for any promising three-year-old in the barn in the hopes the horse will make it to one of the Triple Crown races.
The Kentucky Derby field is limited to 20 horses, with four also eligibles, who have earned the most points in the new Road to the Kentucky Derby points system. The system rewards points to the top four finishers in selected races from last September through the week prior to the Kentucky Derby.