Last week, 10 Maryland-bred horses were nominated for horse racing’s Triple Crown series, one more than last year.
Included are Clever Mind, an H. Graham Motion-trained colt and winner of the Maryland Million Nursery last October; Still Having Fun, the Timothy L. Keefe trainee who finished second in the Maryland Juvenile Futurity in December; and Sagamore Farm’s Global Citizen, who won his first race in first try at Laurel Park in January.
Other names to watch: V.I.P. Code, Achiever and Tattooed.
The Kevin Plank-owned Sagamore has five nominees in all, the most intriguing of which is probably the XFL-inspired He Hate Me. The son of 2006 Preakness winner Bernardini won the Tremont Stakes at Belmont Park last year as a 2 year old and finished second in his first start of 2018, the Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.
Motion, the Fair Hill-based trainer who last year had Irish War Cry as a Kentucky Derby favorite and eventual second place finisher in the Belmont Stakes, has four nominees and Horacio De Paz, Sagamore’s chief trainer, has five.
It’s a long road for any of these horses to end up in the starting gate for the Derby, Preakness or Belmont. There are 360 nominees total–80 percent from Kentucky–and to end up in the field of 20 at Churchill Downs, horses have to accrue points in highly competitive prep races. The other two jewels of the Triple Crown have prerequisites based on past performance and earnings.
Though trainers and owners still have until March 19 to be part of a late nomination period, fewer than 10 thoroughbreds have been nominated in each of the last three years.