Forty Niner, the champion 2-year-old of 1987, heads a list of 380 thoroughbreds nominated early to this year's Triple Crown races. Among the nominees are 21 Maryland-based horses, including two unbeaten colts trained by Charlie Hadry: Private Terms and Finder's Choice.
Private Terms is scheduled to make his fourth career start in Monday's General George Stakes, one of two $100,000-plus races at Laurel this holiday weekend. Angelina County was assigned high weight of 120 pounds for Sunday's $125,000 Barbara Fritchie Handicap, and Entertain -- another from Hadry's stable -- is the 117-pound highweight and early 8-to-5 favorite in today's $50,000-added Native Dancer Handicap.
Entertain comes off a victory in the Harrison E. Johnson Memorial Handicap, in which he made up nearly a 20-length deficit to defeat Due North by 1 1/2 lengths. But with a lack of speed in today's 1 1/8-mile race, Entertain almost certainly will be more forwardly placed early.
Vince Bracciale Jr. was named for the return ride astride Entertain, whom racing secretary Larry Abbundi weighted one pound over Due North and the Jack Van Berg-trained Ridge Review.
Fourteen horses trained by Van Berg were nominated to the Triple Crown races; only the stable of Wayne Lukas, with 18, nominated more.
After winning five of six races last year, the Woody Stephens-trained Forty Niner finished second to Perfect Spy in the Hutcheson Stakes, his 3-year-old debut. Perfect Spy has not been nominated.
Other highly rated nominees include Flamingo Stakes winner Cherokee Colony; San Vicente Stakes winner Mi Preferido; 1987 Canadian champion Regal Classic; 1987 Hopeful Stakes winner Crusader Sword; the Lukas-trained Success Express, Tejano and Notebook, and 2-year-old female champion Epitome, one of seven fillies nominated.
Last year's Maryland-bred champion 2-year-old colt and filly, Trap Line and Thirty Eight Go Go, also were made eligible. Other local nominees with solid credentials include Fappavalley, Cameo Type, Dancing Pretense, Mister Modesty, Ocala Jet, Russian Diplomacy, Royal Legend and Sean's Ferrari.
The nomination list, as usual, is rich with Kentucky-breds, 222. Seventeen were bred in Maryland, 14 in Virginia.
At 380, the early nominees number 18 fewer than in 1987, when the final nomination list totaled 422.
The cost of nominating a horse to the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes -- now known as the Chrysler Triple Crown Challenge -- is $600 if made by Jan. 15. Nominating a horse before the March 17 final deadline costs $3,000.
The horse who earns the most points in the Triple Crown races -- five for finishing first, three for second, one for third -- will earn a $1 million bonus, as Bet Twice did last year. A horse who wins all three race would earn a total of $5 million.