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American Pharoah among early Triple Crown nominees

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) American Pharoah, last year's champion 2-year-old male, and Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Take Charge Brandi lead the list of 429 early nominees for the Triple Crown series for 3-year-olds.

The total number of horses is 15 more than last year's total of 414 that were made eligible for the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont stakes during the early nomination phase.

Trainer Todd Pletcher has 34 horses nominated, down from last year's total of 41. The 47-year-old trainer has three Triple Crown victories. His list of hopefuls is led by Carpe Diem, Competitive Edge and Daredevil.

Chad Brown was second with 24 nominees, followed by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer with 16.

Trainer Bob Baffert has 15 nominations, including American Pharoah and undefeated Dortmund. Fellow Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas trains Take Charge Brandi, one of 11 fillies nominated. Lukas trained Winning Colors, one of three fillies to win the Kentucky Derby. His other nominees include Mr. Z.

The early nomination period, when horses can be nominated for $600 each, closed Jan. 17. The late period, when nominations cost $6,000 apiece, closes March 23. The nominations released Saturday represent 1.8 percent of the 2012 North American foal crop, which was estimated at 23,500 thoroughbreds.

Calumet Farm nominated 15 horses, tops among owners.

The Triple Crown begins with the May 2 Kentucky Derby, followed by the Preakness on May 16 and the Belmont on June 6.

Horses not nominated during the early or late phases can become eligible through a supplemental fee of $200,000 for the Derby, and $150,000 for the Preakness or $75,000 for the Belmont.