Hansen, Union Rags head Triple Crown nominees
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Hansen and Union Rags, who dueled to a close 1-2 finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, and undefeated Algorithms lead the list of 397 early nominees for the Triple Crown series for 3-year-olds.
Hansen edged Union Rags by a head in the Juvenile and won the Eclipse Award as last year's top 2-year-old. He finished second in the Holy Bull on Jan. 29 in his first start as a 3-year-old. Union Rags is trained by Michael Matz, who saddled Barbaro to victory in the 2006 Kentucky Derby.
Algorithms defeated Hansen by five lengths in the Holy Bull to improve to 3-0 for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Pletcher leads trainers for the third straight year with 32 Triple Crown nominees. Bob Baffert is second with 21 horses, while Steve Asmussen and Nick Zito each nominated 15. Dale Romans has 14 nominated horses.
The early nomination period, when horses can be nominated for $600 each, closed Jan. 21. The late period, when nominations cost $6,000 each, closes on March 24. The 397 nominations released Saturday are a 9.1 percent increase over last year's total of 364, and the most since 2009, when 412 3-year-olds were made eligible.
The Triple Crown begins with the May 5 Kentucky Derby, followed by the Preakness on May 19 and the Belmont on June 11.
Other early nominees are CashCall Futurity winner Liaison; Creative Cause, third in the BC Juvenile; Hopeful winner Currency Swap; Dixiana Breeders' Futurity winner Dullahan; undefeated Kentucky Jockey Club winner Gemologist; and Delta Jackpot winner Sabercat.
Among the nominees are six fillies, including Golden Rod winner On Fire Baby.
Ahmed Zayat leads the owners' nominations with 13.