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Classic Empire among 418 horses entered for Triple Crown

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Classic Empire, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, is among 418 3-year-old thoroughbreds made eligible during the early nomination period to compete in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont stakes.

Five fillies and 18 horses based outside North America, including nine from Japan, are also among the early nominees for the Triple Crown series.

The Kentucky Derby is May 6, the Preakness is May 20 and the Belmont is June 10.

This year’s early nominations are up 13.6 percent from last year, when the early period attracted 368 horses. Another nine horses were made eligible during the late nomination period to raise last year’s total to 377.

It costs owners and trainers $600 to nominate their horses during the early period, which ended last Saturday. The late period, requiring a payment of $6,000, is underway and ends on March 20. Horses have a final chance to become eligible at the time of entry for each race when the Derby requires payment of $200,000; the Preakness is $150,000; and the Belmont is $75,000.

Todd Pletcher led all trainers with 33 horses nominated. Bob Baffert and Doug O’Neill tied for second with 21.

Calumet Farm in Lexington, Kentucky, led all owners with 14 horses nominated, one more than Zayat Stables, the owner of 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.

Last year, each Triple Crown race had a different winner.

Former Kentucky Derby, Preakness winner Charismatic dies

15 May 1999: Charismatic wins the 124th Preakness and leads Badge #4 across the finish line at Pimlico Race Track in Baltimore, Maryland.
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Former Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner Charismatic has died at a thoroughbred retirement farm in Kentucky.

Old Friends farm says the chestnut horse that won the first two legs of the Triple Crown in 1999 was found dead in his stall Sunday.

Old Friends President Michael Blowen says everyone at the farm near Georgetown, Kentucky, is “pretty much inconsolable.” He says Charismatic deserved a much longer retirement. Charismatic arrived last December after a long stud career in Japan.

Charismatic’s Triple Crown bid ended when the horse fractured his left foreleg with an eighth of a mile to go. Charismatic finished third.

Doctors said the fracture could have proved fatal, and they praised jockey Chris Antley for dismounting quickly and lifting Charismatic’s injured leg to take weight off it.

Santa Anita cancels racing card ahead of major storm

ARCADIA, CA - NOVEMBER 05: A general view during the Mile race on day two of the 2016 Breeders' Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park on November 5, 2016 in Arcadia, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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ARCADIA, Calif. — Santa Anita has canceled its eight-race card on Friday with over 5 inches of rain, local flooding and high winds predicted for the Los Angeles area.

Officials said Thursday that the track will also be closed for simulcast wagering. The National Weather Service is forecasting the storm could be the strongest in recent years.

The track will re-open on Saturday for live racing over the Presidents’ Day holiday weekend.

Santa Anita was forced to cancel a day of racing last month because of heavy rain and wind.