The early nominees for the 2022 Triple Crown were announced Monday, with 312 sophomores eligible. Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) winner Corniche and Juvenile Fillies (G1) romper Echo Zulu, who are both in line for divisional Eclipse Awards on Thursday night, top the list.
The first jewel of the Triple Crown, the $3 million Kentucky Derby (G1), is set for May 7. The $1.5 million Preakness (G1) follows on May 21, and the $1.5 million Belmont (G1) concludes the classic series on June 11.
Echo Zulu is one of 16 representing record-setting first-crop sire Gun Runner, who leads such established stallions as Into Mischief (14), Quality Road (12) and Tapit (11). She is also one of six fillies, a group notably including Demoiselle (G2) winner Nest and recent Martha Washington heroine Secret Oath.
Todd Pletcher has the most of any trainer with 42 nominees. Next come Brad Cox (26), Chad Brown (23), and Steve Asmussen (20). Corniche and Messier are among 18 nominees for trainer Bob Baffert, who is suspended from competing in the Kentucky Derby (G1) by Churchill Downs Inc.
Japan has expressed an unprecedented level of interest, with a record 21 hopefuls made eligible. Consigliere, Cafe Karma, and Geraldo Barows – the top three from the first Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby points race, the Nov. 27 Cattleya S. – are joined by Sekifu, the fourth-placer in the Dec. 15 Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun. Already known to U.S. fans is Jasper Great, 10th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
Only two horses currently based in Europe were nominated, and none who competed on the European Road. Dermot Weld, who won the 1990 Belmont with Go and Go, tossed maiden winner Enthrallment into the mix, and Donnacha O’Brien gives his Group 2-placed Absolute Ruler the option. The other international nominee, Island Falcon, recently won in Dubai for Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor.
Nominations declined 4.3% from last year, when 326 sophomores were on the early list for the 2021 Triple Crown.
For connections who did not nominate by the early Jan. 29 deadline for $600, horses can still be made Triple Crown-eligible for $6,000 by Mar. 28. The final chance is to supplement at entry time: Kentucky Derby ($200,000), Preakness ($150,000), and Belmont ($50,000).