Seven horses, three jockeys, and two trainers have been selected as the 2008 finalists for election to the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame. The 12 finalists were selected from a group of 81 candidates and determined by a vote of the Hall of Fame Nominating Committee, which is chaired by Edward L. Bowen. The finalists are:
Contemporary female horses: Inside Information, Open Mind, Silverbulletday, Sky Beauty.
Contemporary male horses: Best Pal, Manila, Tiznow.
Jockeys: Edgar Prado, Randy Romero, Alex Solis.
Trainers: Carl Nafzger, Robert Wheeler.
To be eligible, trainers must be licensed and actively involved with Thoroughbreds for 25 years or have been retired for a minimum of five years. Jockeys must be licensed for 20 years or have been retired for a minimum of five years. Horses must be retired for five full calendar years.
In early March, the approximately 180 members of the Hall of Fame Voting Panel will receive a ballot and an information packet on each of the finalists. The voters will be asked to select one name in each category. The individual with the highest number of votes in each category will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Monday, August 4, 2008 in Saratoga Springs. In the event of a tie in the number of votes received, more than one finalist will be inducted.
To assure that high standards are maintained, the current system requires that a candidate must have the support of a majority of the Nominating Committee in order to be included as a finalist. All inductees – including those elected by the Historic Review Committee, which will meet in March – will be announced during a national teleconference in late April.
Prado, 40, a native of Peru, recorded his first winner there in October 1983. His North American totals through December 31, 2007 compiled by Equibase were 5,978 victories from 31,188 mounts, 254 graded stakes victories and purse earnings of $200,915,004. He became the 16th North American rider with 6,000 victories on February 10. He won the 2006 Kentucky Derby with Barbaro, the 2002 Belmont Stakes with Sarava and the 2004 Belmont on Birdstone. His top mounts in 2007 included Grade 1 winners Panty Raid and Scat Daddy, and graded stakes winners Lawyer Ron, Sky Conqueror, King of the Roxy and Kip Deville.
According to Equibase statistics, Romero had 4,294 victories from 26,091 mounts, purse earnings of $75,264,198 and 122 graded stakes wins during a 26-year career than ended in 1999. Romero, 50, was the regular rider of the unbeaten champion Personal Ensign and champion Go for Wand. He won three Breeders’ Cup races.
Solis, 43, won his first race in 1981 in his native Panama. Through the end of 2007, he had 4,534 victories from 29,828 mounts, purse earnings of $205,329,599 and 280 graded stakes victories. The California-based rider won the 1986 Preakness with Snow Chief and has won three Breeders’ Cup races. In 2007, he won the Inglewood, Eddie Read, Charles Whittingham and Del Mar handicaps on After Market, the Sunset on Runaway Dancer and the Honeymoon and Senorita on Valbenny.
Nafzger, a native Texan, was a high-ranked rodeo rider in the 1960s before beginning his career as a Thoroughbred trainer. He saddled his first stakes winner in 1971 when Speedy Karen won the Fiesta Derby Handicap at Santa Fe Downs. Nafzger, 66, has trained two Kentucky Derby winners, Unbridled in 1990, and Street Sense in 2007. Both were division champions, as was Banshee Breeze, the outstanding 3-year-old filly of 1998. Unbridled also won the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 1990 and Street Sense was the first winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile to win the Kentucky Derby. Through the end of 2007, Nafzger had 1,068 victories from 8,041 mounts, purse earnings of $50,203,640 and 68 graded stakes victories.
Wheeler was a trainer in California until his death in 1992 at the age of 72. Two of his best-known stakes winners were C.V. Whitney’s homebred Silver Spoon, the co-champion 3-year-old filly of 1959, and the filly Bug Brush, winner of six stakes in 1959. Silver Spoon defeated males in the 1959 Santa Anita Derby. In 1960, Wheeler won the Santa Anita Derby for a second consecutive year, saddling the Whitney colt Tompion. Much of Wheeler’s career predated the grading of racing, but from 1976, he won 26 percent (18 of 69) of the graded stakes he entered and won 25 percent of all stakes attempts. He trained a total of 56 stakes-winning horses, including Track Robbery, the 1982 older female champion.
The contemporary horse categories involve runners active within the last 25 years. In the final start of her career, Inside Information won the 1995 Breeders’ Cup Distaff by 13 lengths, a record that still stands, and completed her championship season with seven wins and one second in eight starts. The daughter of Private Account was bred and owned by Ogden Mills Phipps and trained by Shug McGaughey. She won 14 of 17 starts in her career and earned $1,641,806.
Open Mind was the champion 2-year-old filly of 1988. She earned another title at three with victories in the New York Filly Triple Crown of the Acorn, the Mother Goose and the Coaching Club American Oaks, as well as the Kentucky Oaks and the Alabama. Owned by Eugene Klein and trained by D. Wayne Lukas, Open Mind put together a 10-race winning streak that included seven Grade 1 victories. She was retired after two starts as a 4-year-old with a career record from 19 starts of 12 wins, two seconds and two thirds and earnings of $1,844,372.
Silverbulletday, owned by Mike Pegram and trained by Bob Baffert, was the champion 2-year-old filly of 1998 and the champion 3-year-old filly of 1999. She won 15 of 23 career starts and compiled purse earnings of $3,093,207. Her victories included the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, Ashland, Kentucky Oaks, Alabama and Gazelle.
Sky Beauty won the New York Filly Triple Crown and the Alabama in 1993 and was champion older filly or mare of 1994. She completed her racing career for owner Georgia E. Hofmann and trainer Allen Jerkens with 15 victories from 21 starts and purse earnings of $1,336,000.
Best Pal, bred and owned Mr. and Mrs. John C. Mabee, won 17 stakes from ages two through seven and earned more than $5.6 million. Trained during his long career by Ian Jory, Gary Jones and Richard Mandella, he won most of the top races on the West Coast, including the Santa Anita Handicap, the Hollywood Gold Cup and the Pacific Classic.
Manila, trained by Leroy Jolley for owner Bradley Shannon, was the Breeders’ Cup Turf winner and the male grass horse champion of 1986. The son of Lyphard won 12 of his 18 career races and earned $2,692,799. From July 1986 through August 1987 he won nine consecutive races.
Tiznow won eight of his 15 career starts and earned $6,427,830. The California-bred son of Cee’s Tizzy is the only two-time winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He defeated Giant’s Causeway by a neck in 2000 and Sakhee by a nose in 2001. The colt, trained by Jay Robbins for owner-breeder Cecilia Straub Rubens, was the 3-year-old champion and Horse of the Year in 2000 and the champion older male in 2001.
The Nominating Committee has 16 members: Bowen, president of the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation and a trustee of the Museum; W. Cothran Campbell, president, Dogwood Stable and a trustee of the Museum; Steven Crist, chairman and publisher, Daily Racing Form; Jane Goldstein, retired director of publicity and communications at Santa Anita Park; Russ Harris, retired New York Daily News turf writer, who continues to handicap for the newspaper; Jay Hovdey, executive columnist, Daily Racing Form; Dan Liebman, editor-in-chief, The Blood-Horse; Neil Milbert, turf writer, Chicago Tribune; Leverett Miller, breeder and owner and a trustee of the Museum; William Nack, retired senior writer at Sports Illustrated and a freelance journalist; Jay Privman, national correspondent, Daily Racing Form; Jennie Rees, turf writer and columnist, The Courier-Journal newspaper in Louisville, Kentucky; John Sparkman, bloodstock/sales editor, Thoroughbred Times; Clark Spencer, turf writer, Miami Herald; Michael Veitch, turf writer and columnist, Saratogian, New York breeding columnist, Daily Racing Form and a trustee of the Museum; John von Stade, chairman of the National Museum of Racing’s Board of Trustees.
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