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.

Funtastic wins Monmouth’s United Nations Stakes in 23-1 upset

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OCEANPORT, N.J. — Funtastic led all the way in a 23-1 upset Saturday in the $300,000 United Nations Stakes at Monmouth Park.

Chad Brown, the Eclipse Award winner the last two years as the nation’s leading trainer, got his third victory in the New Jersey’s biggest turf race. He won with Big Blue Kitten in 2013 and 2015.

The U.N. and the $1 million Haskell on July 29 are the two Grade 1 stakes at Monmouth.

Brown saddled four of the nine runners in the U.N. and ran 1-2 as Money Multiplier rallied to finish a half length behind Funtastic and jockey Antonio Gallardo.

The other two Brown horses were Silverwave (fifth) and Kurilov (eighth).

The time was 2:12.36 for 1 3/8 miles over the firm course.

Funtastic paid $48, $15.80 and $8.60. Money Multiplier, the 2-1 favorite, returned $4 and $2.80.

Bigger Picture, last year’s U.N. winner, was third, paying $5.80 to show.

Wonder Gadot beats heat to win $1 million Queen’s Plate

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TORONTO (AP) Wonder Gadot won the 159th running of the $1 million Queen’s Plate on Saturday at hot and muggy Woodbine Racetrack.

The 3-year-old filly beat Aheadbyacentury by five lengths, running 1 1/4 miles in 2:02.26 in the first jewel of Canada’s Triple Crown.

John Velazquez rode the winner for owner Gary Barner and trainer Mark Casse.

Wonder Gadot is the second straight filly to win the event, following Holy Helena, and the fourth in eight years.

Cooler Mike was third in the 16-horse field.

The other Triple Crown races are the $400,000 Prince of Wales Stakes on July 24 on Fort Erie Racetrack’s dirt course and the $400,000 Breeder’s Stakes turf race at Woodbine on Aug. 18.