The 2009 Triple Crown Early Nominations are out—for $600, you too could have nominated your lucky-if-he-ever-wins-a-race three-year-old just to see his (or her) name in print. However, it is cheaper than the $6,000 required for late nominations on March 28, so better to nominate early, I suppose. Still, Zayat Stables wasted $13,200 by nominating 22 horses—geez, they’ll be lucky if one actually enters the Derby. Will it be Z Day, Zensational or Zooger? Oh please, let it be Zooger—we need a Kentucky Derby entrant that rhymes with Booger.
Shoot!—I forgot Zayat owns Pioneerof the Nile (urgh, another one of those wacky slightly-run on names). Notwithstanding all his West Coast hype, he’s got to prove to me he can run on dirt (being a half-brother to Forefathers doesn’t impress me.).
Among the 401 early nominations is Stardom Bound who impressively returned from her October Breeders Cup Juvenile Filly victory to take the G1 Las Virgenes on Saturday. Next up: the G1 Santa Anita Derby against the boys, on April 4. Very exciting! Flashback to 1988, with Winning Colors taking the Santa Anita Derby, and then Kentucky Derby—what an intriguing year for three-year-olds this could be! Due to her Foolish Pleasure connection and because she’s such a talented filly, I’m overlooking her repulsive ownership and rooting for her anyways—but only if they leave her with Bobby Frankel.
Interestingly, two of the four fillies nominated for the Triple Crown are by Tapit—Stardom Bound and Laragh, also owned by IEAH. The other two fillies are last year’s G1 Frizette winner Sky Diva (Sky Mesa) and recent first-time out winner (at Penn National) Abound (Smart Strike), whose second dam is the PA-bred G1 Alabama victress Spit Curl (Northern Dancer).
For a colt who underperformed (three wins in only six starts), Tapit has thrown some nice fillies thus far—add War Echo to his list of winners, as she took the G3 Silverbulletday on Saturday, coming from off the pace. Modus operandi for Tapits? Interestingly, War Echo is a three-quarter sister to Pyro—with her name, I would have guessed War Pass, but what do I know? Too bad Steve Asmussen didn't nominate War Echo for the Triple Crown, although I don't think anything could make up for the piss-poor performance her brother put in last year's Derby (note to serious contenders: avoid the G1 Blue Grass if you want to have any chance of winning the Derby).
I was very pleased to see Kiaran McLaughlin-trained A.P. Cardinal on the list; he posted a so-so work, though, on Saturday at Palm Meadows going 4f in 49.85 (21/56) perhaps in company with another McLaughlin trainee Taqarub who went in 49.00 (9/56).
Also on the list is Nick Zito-trained Nowhere to Hide who, coming in off just a maiden victory, finished fourth (and just a nose out of third) in the G3 Risen Star at Fair Grounds on Saturday. Interestingly, he is closely related to recent IEAH purchase Patena—their dams are half-sisters, both out of the same mare, Dajin, and, actually, Patena is a three-quarter brother to Nowhere to Hide’s dam Stirring, as they are both by Seeking the Gold. Incestuous!