Six Midlantic-breds among Triple Crown noms

From a press release with additional reporting

Led by 2-year-old champion and three-time Grade I winner Forte, a total of 369 3-year-old Thoroughbreds were made eligible to compete in this year’s Triple Crown series during the early nomination phase, which closed Saturday, Jan. 28.

The roster of nominees includes a half-dozen runners bred in the Mid-Atlantic, including three bred in Maryland and three from Pennsylvania.

Each of the 369 horses from the 2020 foal crop were made eligible through a $600 payment to compete in any leg of the Triple Crown series. The 2023 Triple Crown opens Saturday, May 6 with the 149th running of the 1 ¼-mile Kentucky Derby (GI) at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. The 148th Preakness (GI), its 1 3/16-mile second jewel, is set for Saturday, May 20 at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Md. The 155th running of the Belmont Stakes (GI), the series’ 1 ½-mile final leg, is scheduled for Saturday, June 10 at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y.

The total early nominations rose by 18.2% or 57 horses from last year’s total of 312. The nominees include a record 37 horses based in Japan, 16 more than last year’s previous record of 21.

Forte, owned by Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable and campaigned by Todd Pletcher, is scheduled to make his 2023 debut in the coming weeks. The champion colt won last year’s Hopeful (GI), Breeders’ Futurity (GI) and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI). Forte is one of 36 horses nominated by Pletcher to this year’s Triple Crown.

Overall, 52 stakes winners were nominated to the Triple Crown. Some of the most notable: Arabian Knight (Southwest); Blazing Sevens (Champagne); Cave Rock (Del Mar Futurity); Curly Jack (Iroquois); Dubyuhnell (Remsen); Forte (Breeders’ Cup Juvenile); the filly Hoosier Philly (Golden Rod); Instant Coffee (Lecomte); Newgate (Robert B. Lewis); Practical Move (Los Alamitos Futurity); Rocket Can (Holy Bull); Two Phil’s (Street Sense) and Victory Formation (Smarty Jones).

Spendthrift Farm had 19 horses nominated to the Triple Crown that they are sole owners or involved in a partnership. They also bred two nominees.

Brad Cox led all trainers with 38 horses nominated to the Triple Crown including recent Lecomte Stakes (GIII) winner Instant Coffee. Pletcher was next with 36 nominees followed by Steve Asmussen (13), Kenny McPeek (13), Chad Brown (12) and Hideyuki Mori (12).

Horses not currently assigned a trainer or horses under the care of any trainer suspended from competing in the 2023 Kentucky Derby have their trainer listed as “TBD.” For the Kentucky Derby, horses under the care of any suspended trainer or affiliates may be transferred to a non-suspended trainer and become eligible for earning Road to the Kentucky Derby points on a forward-looking basis so long as the transfer is complete by Feb. 28.  

The Midlantic-breds are:

  • Angel of Empire (PA): Trained by Brad Cox for Albaugh Family Stables, Angel of Empire, by Classic Empire, has two wins and ran second in the Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park. He was bred by Forgotten Land Investment Inc. and Black Diamond Equine Corp.
  • Circling the Drain (MD): A homebred for Sycamore Hall Thoroughbreds, this West Coast gelding has a win from three career starts and most recently was second in a Laurel allowance for trainer Brittany Russell.
  • Easy Action (MD): Another bred by Sycamore Hall, this Speightstown broke his maiden Jan. 28 at Oaklawn Park in his fourth career outing. He is owned by Alex and Joann Lieblong and trained by Norm Casse.
  • Fletcher (PA): This Blofeld colt is a homebred for James Chandley. Trained by Chuck Lawrence, Fletcher has a win from three career starts but has not raced since October.
  • Foxburg (PA): This Bill Mott-trained Arrogate colt was well up the track on debut Jan. 28 at Gulfstream Park. He was bred by Blackstone Farm LLC and is owned by Lre Racing LLC.
  • Seven’s Eleven (MD): Bandbox gelding Seven’s Eleven broke his maiden nicely last out Jan. 27 at Laurel Park in his fourth career outing. He’s a homebred for Cottonwood Stable LLC and is trained by Carlos Mancilla.