Led by Tampa Bay Derby winner Watch Me Go and Swift Warrior, winner of the Rushaway Stakes last Saturday at Turfway Park, a total of 13 horses have been made late nominees to the Triple Crown, it was announced Wednesday by Churchill Downs, home of the first leg of the Triple Crown, the May 7 Kentucky Derby.
The other late nominees are Beer Meister, Bowman's Causeway, Joe's Blazing Aaron, Lagoon of Diamonds, Nacho Saint, Norman Asbjornson, Ruler on Ice, Saratoga Red, Smoke It Right, Truman's Commander, and War Pact.
Beer Meister was the upset winner of the Turf Paradise Derby. Joe's Blazing Aaron was the winner of the Palm Beach Stakes on turf at Gulfstream in his last start. Norman Asbjornson was second to Stay Thirsty in the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct. The unbeaten Smoke It Right, now 4 for 4, won the Mountain Valley at Oaklawn last time out. War Pact, based in France, has won twice in three starts.
Both Bowman's Causeway and Watch Me Go are scheduled to run Sunday in the Grade 1, $1 million Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park.
Late nominations were due Saturday night and required payment of $6,000. There were 364 nominations at the early deadline in January, when the cost was just $600.
Horses can still be supplemented to the Kentucky Derby, at a cost of $200,000, 10 percent of the $2 million purse. But horses who were original or late nominees have preference over supplemental nominees, so if more than the maximum field of 20 horses were to enter the Derby -- as has happened last seven years -- and graded stakes earnings were needed to determine the field, supplemental nominees would go to the back of the line, regardless of earnings.
In addition to the Derby, the other Triple Crown races are the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on May 21 and the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on June 11. No horse has won the Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978, making the current drought the longest since the Triple Crown was first won by Sir Barton in 1919.
All three Triple Crown races will be televised this year by NBC.