5 Trainers Dominate Triple Crown Nominees, Led By Pletcher, Baffert, Asmussen

By Richard Rosenblatt

For those who like to toss around names and numbers – and in horse racing who doesn’t? — consider these Triple Crown nuggets:

Five of the nation’s most prominent trainers (Todd Pletcher, Bob Baffert, Steve Asmussen, Chad Brown and Brad Cox) combined to nominate 37.4% of the 326 3-year-olds for the 2021 Triple Crown.

For those counting, Pletcher (as usual) led all trainers with 45 nominees, while Baffert trains 23 nominees, Asmussen 22, Chad Brown 18 and recent Eclipse Award winner Cox 14.

That totals 122 of the 326 nominees for the Kentucky Derby (G1) on May 1, the Preakness (G1) on May 15 and the Belmont Stakes (G1) on June 5.

For five trainers!

Pletcher is a two-time Derby and three-time Belmont winner, Baffert is a six-time Derby, seven-time Preakness winner, three-time Belmont winner and two-time Triple Crown winner.

Asmussen is a two-time Preakness and one-time Belmont winner; Brown has a Preakness win; and Cox is looking for his first win in a Triple Crown race – and has several Derby contenders this year, including Essential Quality, the unbeaten 2-year-old champion male set for his 3-year-old debut in the Southwest Stakes (G3) on Feb. 15.

A year ago, and before the COVID-19 pandemic altered the Triple Crown schedule, Pletcher, Asmussen and Baffert were the top three in nominations, totaling 66 of 347 (19%). Brown had eight, and Cox five, and altogether the five had 79 of 347 for 22.7%).

We’re not exactly sure what this will mean as the Derby approaches, but it’ll be worth watching since the Triple Crown usually is a long, treacherous road filled with potholes.

Enough with the trainers, and on to the horses.

Cox and Baffert currently have the leading Derby contenders that are Triple Crown-nominated: Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) winner Essential Quality and

Smarty Jones winner Caddo River for Cox; and Sham Stakes (G3) winner Life is Good; Robert B. Lewis (G3) winner Medina Spirit for Baffert.

The early nomination phase closed on Jan. 23, and the list of nominees was released on Thursday (Feb. 4) by Churchill Downs, home of the Derby.

Godolphin led all individual owners with 11 nominees, including Essential Quality. Brad Kelley’s famed Calumet Farm was next with 10 nominees.

Thirteen fillies were nominated, including 2-year-old champion Vequist, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) and Ashland (G1) winner Simply Ravishing. Five horses nominated are based in Japan.

The early nominations were 21 fewer than 2020, a dip of 6.1%. A total of 42 stakes winners were nominated. A $600 fee is charged for early nomination; it will cost $6,000 for the next nomination period that closes March 29; and any horse not nominated could become eligible with a supplemental payment — $200,000 for the Derby, $100,000 for the Preakness and $50,000 for the Belmont.

2021 Triple Crown Nominees

(18)Highestmaintenance
(18)Rose to Gold
(18)Vivo Per Lei
(18)White Waves
Affable
Alain Barows (JPN)
Alejandro
All Bodes Well
Amazing Rocket
American Drama
Amount
Angkor
Annex
Arabian Prince
Atlantic Road
Avenue
Aviano
Awesome Gerry
B C Glory Days
Baltasar
Beep Beep
Behavin Myself
Bennyfromthebronx
Best Bet
Bezos
Big Fish
Big Flame
Big Lake
Big Thorn
Blue Boon
Bobby Bo
Bold Minister
Bourbonic
Bracken
Breadman
Brooklyn Strong
By George
Caddo River
Call of Honor
Camp Hope
Candy Man Rocket
Cantata
Capo Kane
Captain Fantastic
Cardinal Bird
Carillo
Cash Rocket
Cathkin Peak (IRE)
Cazadero
Chaos Reigns
Chargeittothegame
Circumvent
Clairiere
Classier
Coastal Kid
Collaborate
Colonel Bowman
Concert Tour
Conquer the World
Continental Coins
Cool Rags
Core Curriculum
Count Tolstoy
Country Captain
Cowan
Cronus
Crowded Trade
Danish Ekati
Defeater
Defunded
Deservedly
Devils Sky
Dis Ones On Fire
Do the Honors
Dolder Grand
Donegal Bay
D’oro Forever
Dr Ardito
Dream Shake
Dreamer’s Disease
Du Jour
Dupuis
Dyn O Mite
Dynamic One
Earls Rock (IRE)
El Socio
Elector
Eleven Central
Emperor’s Cause
Epic Run
Essential Quality
Everesting
Exalted Charm
Exalted Joy
Excellent Timing
Fairchild
Federal Bureau
Fenway
Fighting Force
Find New Roads
Fire At Will
Fire Sword
First Task
Fly Like an Eagle
Following Sea
Fortified
Founder
France Go de Ina
Freedom Fighter
Frozen Assets
Full Charge
Full Court Press
Future Victory
Gagetown
Garoppolo
Genomic
Gershwin
Get Her Number
Ghazaaly
Ghostliner
Global Appeal
Goddard
Golden Spoke
Golden Whim
Greatest Honour
Gretzky the Great
Grey Storm
Hachure
Harbored Memories
Harvard
Hello Hot Rod
He’s in Charge
He’smyhoneybadger
Hidden Stash
High Yield Kitten
Higher Quality
Highly Motivated
Hold the Salsa
Hot Rod Charlie
Houdini’s Awesome
Hozier
Hudson Ridge
Hush of a Storm
Hyperfocus
I Am the Law
Imperial Road
Inspector Frost
Inspiration Point
Isolate
It’s a Gamble
Jackie’s Warrior
Jasper Dream
Jirafales
Joe Man Joe
Keepmeinmind
Khafre
Kinetic Sky
King Fury
Kingdom Warrior
King’s Ovation
Knopfler
Known Agenda
Koolhaus
La Perouse (JPN)
Lady Speightspeare
Laker Mamba
Lamutanaatty
Laurel River
Law Professor
Leblon
Lemon Pop
Life Is Good
Like the King
Likeable
Lucky Law (IRE)
Magnificent
Malathaat
Mandaloun
Masqueparade
Medina Spirit
Midnight Bourbon
Millean
Money Mike
Moonlite Strike
Mubtadaa
Mucho Del Oro
Mutasaabeq
Mutasallem
My Favorite Uncle
Myopic
Naco
Naismith
Never Surprised
Newyearsblockparty
Next
Nicky the Vest
Notable Exception
Notary
Nova Rags
O Besos
Ocean Ride
One Fast Cat
One Two Kid
Ottothelegend
Outadore
Outasite
Overtook
Papetu
Parnelli
Partner’s Hope
Patron d’Oro
Pauline’s Pearl
Perfect Cut
Perfect Munnings
Petruchio
Pickin’ Time
Prate
Prevalence
Primary Endpoint
Prime Factor
Prince Ziggy
Private Network
Promise Keeper
Proxy
Publicly Available
Q B One
Racarino
Ram
Ranger Fox
Realm of Law
Rebel’s Romance (IRE)
Red Flag
Regal Run
Ricochet
Ridin With Biden
Rightandjust
Risk Taking
River Redemption
Road Bible
Rock Your World
Roman Centurian
Rombauer
Rosenquist
Royal Realm
Royal Tryst
Run Classic
Runway Magic
Saffa’s Day
Sainthood
Santa Cruiser
Santos to Wilson
Savile Row
Scales of Justice
Scarlet Fusion
Scarred
Senor Buscador
Shackqueenking
Shadow Matter
Shaftesbury
Simovitch
Simply Ravishing
Sir Ollie
Sittin On Go
Smiley Sobotka
Son of Thunder
Sososubtle
Soup and Sandwich
Souper Sensational
Southern District
Speaker’s Corner
Speight’spercomete
Speightstown Shirl
Spielberg
Spirit Maker
Stage Raider
Stainless Steel
Star Sailor
Starrininmydreams
Stayin’ Out Late
Super Stock
Super Strong
Swiftsure
Swing Low
Swingman
Swot Analysis
Taita
Tallis
Taraashoq
Tarantino
Tesoro
Texas Royalty
The Chosen Vron
The Great One
There Goes Harvard
Tivoli Twirl
Tiwanaku
Tiz Tact Toe
Too Boss
Traveller
Triple Tap
Troubadour
Tulsa Tornado
Ubiquitous
Ultimate Badger
Unbridled d’Oro
Unbridled Honor
Unembellished
Uno
Untreated
Value Creation
Vanishing Point
Vequist
Warbird
Warrant
Warrior in Chief
Waspirant
Whiskey Double
Whitaker
Whole Shebang (JPN)
Wildcat Nation
Will E Sutton
Winfromwithin
Wipe the Slate
Wolfie’s Dynaghost
World Cruiser
Zaajel
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