For the second straight season, the overall pullback in the Thoroughbred industry has been reflected in the early number of Triple Crown nominees. A total of 366 3-year-olds have been nominated for the 2010 renewals of America's three classics, down 35 from last season.
The 401 nominees in 2009 were down 48 horses from 2008. This year's added decline represents the lowest overall number since 358 horses were nominated in 2005 when the industry was still struggling with the effects of Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome.
Eleven horses were added to the overall list during last year's late nomination phase.
In addition to the correction that has hit the Thoroughbred auction arena over the past year, handle and purses have also declined steadily. Wagering on U.S. races was down 12.03 percent in January compared to a year ago while purses were off by 10.04 percent.
"Our nomination total is down a bit, but the 366 horses on the roster of nominees represent as deep a field of quality prospects as we've seen over the years," said Donald R. Richardson, senior vice president, racing, for Churchill Downs Incorporated. "All the major players in the United States have come forward for these classics and have been joined by 17 representatives from abroad.
"It's clear that interest in this special series of classics remains deep and widespread."
Included in this year's nominations are eight fillies, including 2-year-old filly champion She Be Wild and multiple Grade I winner Blind Luck.
Todd Pletcher leads all trainers with 20 nominees while his former boss D. Wayne Lukas, whose presence among the major nominators had diminished in recent years, was second with 19 nominees.
Owners, trainers and sires with the most 2010 Triple Crown nominations:
20: Todd Pletcher
19: D. Wayne Lukas
16: John Sadler
12: Thoroughbred Racing Legends Stable
10: WinStar Farm
8: Godolphin Racing, Spendthrift Farm, Gary and Mary West Stables
10: Distorted Humor, Tiznow
9: Maria's Mon, Unbridled's Song
8: Afleet Alex, Giant's Causeway
2010 nominees listed by birthplace, gender and color:
Inside United States: Kentucky 270, Florida 34, New York 12, California 9, Maryland 7, Pennsylvania 6, Virginia 4, Illinois 2, Texas 2, Arizona 1, Indiana 1, Minnesota 1, Ohio 1, Oklahoma 1.
Outside United States: Ireland 8, Canada 4, Great Britain 3.
Colts 324, Geldings 30, Fillies 8, Ridglings 4.
Bay 138, Chestnut 105, Dark Bay/Brown 93, Gray/Roan 30.