by Frank Vespe
The early nominations process for the Triple Crown closed with, it was announced yesterday, 360 nominations. That represented a 14 percent drop from last year’s 418 early nominations and was the lowest total since 2005.
The Triple Crown races include the Kentucky Derby, May 5 at Churchill Downs; the Preakness Stakes, May 19 at Pimlico Race Course; and the Belmont Stakes, June 9 at Belmont Park.
Early nominations closed January 20, with nominators paying a $600 fee to put their horses in the mix. Foot-draggers can still nominate through the second closing, March 19, with a $6,000 payment. The 360 nominations represent about 1.7 percent of the estimated 20,850 foals of 2015, a number off by about 2.5 percent from the previous year.
Fourteen of the 360 nominees were bred in the mid-Atlantic region, with Maryland the most-represented state. All told, 10 horses from Maryland were nominated to the series, with Virginia adding two, and one each from Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
The top Maryland-bred nominee in terms of accomplishment to date is likely the Tim Keefe trainee Still Having Fun. The Old Fashioned colt, whom he co-bred with Mr. and Mars. Charles McGinnes, has won two of three starts, including posting a dominant four-length win last out in the Frank Whiteley, Jr. Stakes at Laurel Park. The only blemish on his record is a neck defeat in the Maryland Juvenile Futurity.