Midlantic flavor to Triple Crown nominations

The anticipation for the 2024 Triple Crown is well underway as 346 of the world’s most promising 3-year-old Thoroughbreds, led by reigning 2-year-old champion and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (Grade I) winner Fierceness, were nominated to the three-race series for $600 during the first closing on Jan. 29.

Uncle Heavy
Uncle Heavy (#8) was just in time to win the Withers. Photo by Susie Raisher/NYRA.

The 2024 Triple Crown is set to open Saturday, May 4 with the 150th running of the $5 million Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (Grade I) over 1 ¼ miles at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. The 149th running of the $1.5 million Preakness, at 1 3/16 miles, will take place two weeks later on Saturday, May 18 at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Md. This year’s 156th running of the $2 million Belmont Stakes, the series’ 1 ¼-mile final leg, will be run at Saratoga Race Course on Saturday, June 8.

This year’s total of early Triple Crown nominees was down from last year’s 369 nominations. The nominees included many horses stabled around the world including a record 47 from Japan, 10 more than last year’s mark of 37.

Fierceness, one of Repole Stable’s 20 nominees to lead all owners, was one of 54 horses under the care of Todd Pletcher that nominated to the Triple Crown. He led all conditioners and was followed by Bob Baffert and Brad Cox with 18 each. Baffert’s trainees are only eligible for the Preakness and Belmont because horses under his care are ineligible to compete at Churchill Downs Incorporated-owned racetracks in 2024.

Overall, 44 stakes winners were nominated to the Triple Crown. Some of the most notable are Catching Freedom (Smarty Jones); Hades (Holy Bull); Honor Marie (Kentucky Jockey Club); Locked (Breeders’ Futurity); Mystik Dan (Southwest); Nysos (Robert B. Lewis); Track Phantom (Lecomte) and Uncle Heavy (Withers).


  • Six of the nominees were bred in the Mid-Atlantic. That includes three Maryland-breds, two Pennsylvania-breds, and a West Virginia-bred.
  • The Maryland-breds include an unraced Constitution colt bred by Larry Johnson out of the Street Sense mare Walk of Stars; Circle P, a Flint Stites trainee unraced since his win in the Maryland Juvenile in December; and Fulmineo, a graded stakes-placed runner on the turf who recently was second in a Tampa allowance on the main track for trainer Arnaud Delacour. Circle P was bred by Marathon Farms Inc., and Fulmineo was bred by Country Life Farm and Starr of Quality LLC.
  • Both Pennsylvania-breds are trained by Butch Reid at Parx. They are recent Grade 3 Withers winner Uncle Heavy and recent allowance winner Maximus Meridius. Uncle Heavy, owned by Milam Racing Stables, was bred by Barbara Reid. Maximus Meridius was bred by Westerly Farm and is owned by LC Racing, Cash Is King, and Wellesley Stable.
  • The lone West Virginia-bred is Papa Linguine. Bred by O’Sullivan Farms and owned by Raymond J. Funkhouser III, he’s a two-time winner trained by Jamey Johnson.
  • Among regional trainers, Brittany Russell leads the way with six nominees, with two-time winners Mission Beach and Regalo the most accomplished. In addition to those already listed, other regional trainers with nominees include Gary Capuano, Horacio De Paz, Chuckie Lawrence, Graham Motion, Jerry Robb, Gregg Sacco, Rick Sillaman, Uriah St. Lewis, and Flint Stites.

Mid-Atlantic Notes compiled by The Racing Biz.