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.

Horse runs race at Royal Ascot without jockey

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Well this didn’t go as planned.

At the beginning of the Diamond Jubile Stakes on the final day of the 2017 Royal Ascot, Growl’s rider was left in the starting gate as his horse took off and ran the entire race without him.

He hung with the pack for awhile before fading down the stretch.

American filly Lady Aurelia wins again at Royal Ascot

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ASCOT, England — American filly Lady Aurelia won at Royal Ascot for the second straight year, cruising to a three-length victory in the King’s Stand Stakes under replacement jockey John Velazquez on Tuesday.

“She’s a once-in-a-lifetime horse,” said trainer Wesley A. Ward after Lady Aurelia backed up her win in the Queen Mary Stakes in 2016.

Frankie Dettori was scheduled to ride Lady Aurelia, but pulled out of the entire meeting early Tuesday after failing to recover from an arm injury sustained when he was thrown off a horse in a parade ring last week.

Velazquez was drafted in and settled the U.S. horse into a good early position. Lady Aurelia took the lead with two furlongs to run and pulled away, winning the five-furlong race in 57.45 seconds, just short of a course record.

“This is wonderful for American racing,” said Ward, who has eight career winners at Ascot since 2009. Six of those wins have been by juveniles.

Ward has 10 entries at the prestigious meeting staged just outside London, as part of the largest contingent of U.S. runners – 14 – to compete at Royal Ascot.

Following the arrival of Queen Elizabeth II at the course ahead of the start of the meeting, racing was preceded by a minute’s silence in honor of the victims of attacks in Britain in recent weeks.