A total of 413 3-year-olds, including a record 42 from the stable of six-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher, make up the early nominees to compete in the 2014 Triple Crown races.
Though the Thoroughbred foal crop has seen marked declines since 2008, this year's number represents an 11.9 percent increase from last year and the highest number since 449 horses were eligible in 2008.
The 413 early Triple Crown nominations also represent a record 1.6 percent of the estimated 25,500 foal crop of 2011.
The number of horses made eligible for the Triple Crown by Pletcher comprises 10.2 percent of the overall total. It is easily the highest total for an individual trainer since host tracks Churchill Downs, Pimlico Race Course and Belmont Park adopted a joint nominating process in 1986. Pletcher set the previous record for nominations by a trainer (32) in 2012.
Among the Pletcher nominees is Havana, a gray/roan son of Dunkirk who won the Grade I Champagne at Belmont Park and was runner-up to the now-retired New Year's Day in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita.
The roster of Triple Crown nominees includes 14 fillies, including Ria Antonia, winner by disqualification of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.
Of the 399 male nominees, 359 are colts, 30 are geldings and 10 are listed as ridglings.
Pletcher was followed by Bob Baffert (18 nominations), Steve Asmussen (13) and D. Wayne Lukas (12).
Leading owners, either alone or in partnership, were Mrs. John Magnier and Michael Tabor, who shared ownership of 13 nominees. Their regular partner, Derrick Smith, owns 12 of the nominated horses.
Ken and Sarah Ramsey, who swept the Eclipse Awards for Outstanding Owner and Outstanding Breeder, own eight.
WinStar Farm, owner of 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver and Belmont Stakes winner Drosselmeyer, led breeders with nine nominees.
Of the 413 nominated 3-year-olds, 388 were bred in the United States with 302 being bred in Kentucky.
Nominations to the 2014 Triple Crown opened Jan. 2 and closed on Jan. 25, and required payment of a $600 fee for each nominated horse. The 2014 late nomination period, which requires a payment of $6,000, opened Jan. 26 and continues through March 22.
Three-year-olds that are not nominated for the Triple Crown have a final opportunity to become eligible to compete in one or all of the races through the payment of a supplemental nomination fee. A supplemental nomination at the time of entry to the Kentucky Derby requires payment of $200,000.
Alicia Wincze Hughes: (859) 231-1676. Blog: horseracing.bloginky.com. Twitter: @horseracinghl.