SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Eight standouts from three centuries have been elected to the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame.
Jockeys Jose Santos and John Sellers, trainers Henry Forrest, Frank McCabe and John Veitch and the horses Mom’s Command, Silver Charm and Swoon’s Son comprise the 52nd Hall of Fame class and will be inducted on August 6.
Santos, Veitch, Mom’s Command and Silver Charm were elected in the contemporary categories. Sellers, Forrest, McCabe and Swoon’s Son were elected by the Historic Review Committee, which considers candidates who have not been active for at least 25 years. Forrest, who saddled two Kentucky Derby winners, and McCabe, whose resume includes developing three Hall of Fame horses, tied in the voting for trainer.
The class is the largest since nine were inducted in 1978.
During his career, Veitch, 61, trained four champions, but his best-known horse is Hall of Fame member Alydar, who was part of the great rivalry with Affirmed in 1977 and 1978. Retired from training since 2003, Veitch is the Chief State Steward in Kentucky. He joins his father in the Hall of Fame. The late Sylvester Veitch, who trained from 1946 until 1984, was inducted in 1977.
“It’s actually the dream of a lifetime,” Veitch said. “When my father was inducted and I saw how important it was to him, it made me realize what an achievement it was. My father said that the day they inducted him was the greatest day in his life. That certainly was the greatest day in my life, also, but the day I get inducted will be the second and I will remember it forever.
“It’s the culmination of all the great horses that I’ve had the privilege to train and the great owners that I represented. It’s a great thing.”
The Veitches become the eighth family with multiple members in the Hall of Fame. The Burch family of trainers is represented by three generations: William P., inducted in the inaugural class in 1955, his son, Preston M., who was inducted in 1963, and his grandson, J. Elliott, inducted in 1980.
Trainer Max Hirsch was inducted in 1959 and his son William “Buddy” was honored in 1982; the Jones Boys, who handled Calumet Farm’s powerful stable, were inducted in successive years: Ben in 1958 and his son, Jimmy, in 1959; trainer Marion Van Berg was inducted in 1970 and his son, Jack, was inducted in 1985; trainer G. Carey Winfrey was inducted in 1975, four years after the induction of his step-son William C. Winfrey.
The Smithwick brothers, jockey A. P. “Paddy” and trainer, D.M. “Mikey” were elected for their accomplishments in steeplechase racing. Mikey was inducted in 1971; Paddy in 1973. Also from steeplechase racing are trainer Michael Walsh, inducted in 1997, and his nephew, jockey Thomas Walsh, inducted in 2005.
John Veitch’s champions were Davona Dale, Our Mims, Before Dawn and Sunshine Forever. Davona Dale and Alydar are members of the Hall of Fame. After serving as an assistant for his father and Elliott Burch, Veitch opened a small public stable in 1974. He subsequently was offered the position as private trainer for Calumet Farm and guided that historic stable back to prominence. He moved on to become the private trainer for the Galbreath family’s Darby Dan Farm and enjoyed a long run of success.
In North America from 1974 through his retirement, Veitch recorded 410 victories from 2,340 starters with purse earnings of $20,097,920. He won 76 graded stakes from 401 starts, 19 percent, and a total of 93 stakes from 500 starts.
Santos, 46, the rider of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Funny Cide, was born in Chile and recorded his first victory there in 1976. He arrived in the United States on January 3, 1984 and quickly established himself as a prominent rider. He was the nation’s leading rider in earnings for four consecutive years, from 1986 to 1989, and was the Eclipse Award-winning jockey in 1988 when he set a record for purse earnings of $14,856,214.
Through December 31, 2006, Equibase statistics show Santos had 4,076 victories in North America with purse earnings of $186,936,820. In addition to Funny Cide, he has been the regular rider or frequent rider of champions Manila, Meadow Star, Criminal Type, Chief Bearhart, Fleet Indian, Fly So Free and Rubiano.
“It’s a great honor just to be nominated and to be elected to the Hall of Fame is even bigger,” Santos said. “I know the history of the Hall of Fame in the United States, that it is all of the best. To be joining them, I don’t have words to express myself.”
Santos is recovering from injuries he sustained in a spill at Aqueduct in February and is considering a return to riding.
In North America through December 31, 2006, Santos had won 331 graded stakes and a total of 608 stakes. Santos has won the Jockey Club Gold Cup three times, the United Nations Handicap four times; he has three wins in the Personal Ensign, the Spinaway, the Pegasus, the Carter Handicap and the Withers, and two wins in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, the Arlington Million, Coaching Club American Oaks, Cigar Mile, Caesar’s International, Florida Derby, Flower Bowl, Futurity, Hawthorne Gold Cup, Haskell, Jerome, Man o’ War, Matron, Metropolitan, Turf Classic and Whitney.
Santos has won a total of seven Breeders’ Cup races. In 2006, he won six stakes with Fleet Indian.
Silver Charm is the second horse raced by Robert and Beverly Lewis to be elected to the Hall of Fame, following Serena’s Song, inducted in 2002.
Racing from 1996 through 1999 for trainer Bob Baffert, Silver Charm won 12 of 24 starts and earned $6,944,369 in purse money. Eight years after his final race, he stands seventh on the career earnings list.
Silver Charm rose to international prominence in 1997 when he edged Captain Bodgit by a head in the Kentucky Derby and prevailed by a head over Free House in the Preakness with Captain Bodgit another head back in third. The Florida-bred son of Silver Buck out of the Poker mare, Bonnie’s Poker, had the lead in the stretch of the Belmont Stakes and appeared poised to complete the sweep of the Triple Crown, but was passed by Touch Gold and finished second by three-quarters of a length. He was the champion 3-year-old.
At four, Silver Charm defeated Swain by a nose in the Dubai World Cup and also won the San Fernando, the Charles H. Strub, the Goodwood, the Clark and dead-heated for first with Wild Rush in the Kentucky Cup Classic. In the Breeders’ Cup Classic, he was second to Awesome Again, while beating Swain and Skip Away.
Silver Charm was retired as a 5-year-old with 11 graded/group stakes victories. He stands at stud in Japan.
“I’m thrilled to pieces,” said Beverly Lewis, who raced Silver Charm with her late husband. “He’s the horse that people just love. I’m just so happy that he’s there where he belongs.”
Mom’s Command, bred and owned by Peter Fuller and primarily ridden by his daughter, Abby, was the champion 3-year-old filly of 1985. Trained by Edward T. “Ned” Allard, the front-running filly won seven of nine starts that year, including the New York filly Triple Crown of the one-mile Acorn, the 1 1/8-miles Mother Goose and the 1 1/2-miles Coaching Club American Oaks. After finishing second to Hall of Famer Lady’s Secret in the Test, she defeated Fran’s Valentine in the historic Alabama in what turned out to be her final start.
“Of course, I’m thrilled to have her elected to the Hall of Fame,” Peter Fuller, 84, said. “I think she does deserve it and I think the fact that my daughter rode her is one of those things that is just marvelous. It’s very helpful to racing, in particular. I have a fellow who teases me, `You’re the only fellow who bred the horse and the jockey,’ which I think is pretty cute.”
Mom’s Command compiled a record of 11-2-1 in 16 starts, all in stakes, and earned $902,972. She was euthanized on Feb. 3 at the age of 25 at Fuller’s farm in New Hampshire.
Sellers, 69, was born in Los Angeles and was raised in Oklahoma. He rode from 1955 through 1977. The peak of his career was the decade of the 1960s when he finished in the top ten nationally in purse money won five times in a span of six years. He led the nation in victories, 328, and was second in purses in 1961, the year he rode Hall of Fame Carry Back to victories in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness.
Sellers won many of the major stakes in the United States, including the Belmont, Alabama, Travers, Blue Grass, Kentucky Oaks, Florida Derby, Garden State, United Nations Handicap, San Juan Capistrano, San Luis Obispo, San Felipe, Sunset, Hollywood Derby, Carter, Del Mar Invitational and the Whitney.
Sellers was moved by the news of his election to the Hall of Fame.
“I have tears in my eyes right now,” he said. “That’s for real.”
Sellers recalled being nominated in the Contemporary Jockey category in 1987.
“That was the year Walter Blum won, and he deservedly should have,” Sellers said. “That was as close as I got. It was very neat, just even to be nominated, but this is incredible.”
Sellers is a bloodstock agent and lives in Hallandale, Fla.
Forrest was a native of Covington, Ky., and trained from 1937 until his death in 1975 at the age of 69. He saw every Kentucky Derby from 1921 until his death and trained the Derby and Preakness winners Kauai King in 1966 and Forward Pass in 1968.
During his career, Forrest trained for both Calumet Farm and Claiborne Farm. He finished in the top 10 nationally in races won in a season eight times and twice was in the top 10 nationally in purse money won. At the time of his death, he held the career record for victories at Keeneland, 153, and Churchill Downs, 271.
Forward Pass finished second in the Derby, but was declared the winner when Peter Fuller’s colt, Dancer’s Image, was disqualified for testing positive for a banned substance. In the Preakness, Forward Pass won by six lengths over a 10-horse field that included Dancer’s Image. He was second in the Belmont and the Travers. The colt also won the Florida Derby, the American Derby, the Hibiscus, the Everglades and the Blue Grass and was voted the champion 3-year-old in two polls.
“This is absolutely wonderful,” said Forrest’s daughter, Jennie Watkins. “His life was dedicated to racing. He was in the horse business his entire career and achieved what is the ultimate goal: to train a Kentucky Derby winner, and not one but two. It was his life. I think this is such a tribute to him and his memory this many years later to have such a wonderful thing happen.”
McCabe was a distinguished trainer in a career that spanned the later part of the 19th century and the early decades of the 20th century. He was born in Patterson, N.J. in 1859 and became an assistant to trainer James Rowe, who was a member of the first Hall of Fame class in 1955. When Rowe ended his relationship with the Dwyer brothers, who were prominent owners at the time, in 1884, McCabe became their trainer. He trained Hall of Famer Hanover, winner of the Brooklyn Handicap, Belmont Stakes, Withers and United States Hotel. McCabe trained three consecutive Belmont winners: Inspector B. 1886; Hanover, 1887; Sir Dixon, 1888.
During that same period, McCabe trained Tremont, who was unbeaten in 13 starts as a 2-year-old in 1886, and was considered a champion.
McCabe’s other Hall of Fame horses were Kingston, a 1955 inductee, who won 89 of 138 starts, including 30 stakes and retired as America’s leading money winner at $140,195; and Miss Woodford, who was also handled by Rowe. Miss Woodford, elected to the Hall of Fame in 1967, won the Ladies Stakes, Alabama, Monmouth Oaks and Pimlico Stakes. She was the first horse bred and raced in America to earn more than $100,000.
McCabe, who died in 1924, also won the Travers with Inspector B., Sir Dixon and Sir Joh
Swoon’s Son was a top stakes horse during a four-season career in the 1950s. Bred and owned by Kentuckian E. Gay Drake, a charter member of the Thoroughbred Club of America, Swoon’s Son won 30 of 51 starts. When he was retired to stud in 1958, he was the fourth-leading money-winner in the world at $907,605.
For most of his career, Swoon’s Son raced in the Midwest, primarily at tracks in Chicago and Kentucky. He was trained by Lex Wilson and ridden in all but one race by Dave Erb. Swoon’s Son won 22 stakes, including the Arlington Futurity and Bashford Manor at two; the American Derby, Arlington Classic and Clark Handicap at three, and the Equipoise Mile Handicap at four and five. Notable horses that Swoon’s Son defeated were Preakness winner Fabius, Kentucky Derby-Belmont winner Needles, plus Round Table and Bardstown. Drake’s grandson Jack Jones now operates the family’s Mineola Farm near Lexington, Ky. where Swoon’s Son was bred. Jones was a witness to Swoon’s Son’s success. “I was eight, nine, 10 years old at the time, but I’ve got fond memories of his racing career, as well as having been with Lex Wilson and Dave Erb,” Jones said. “I’m just overjoyed with his election. I’m just sorry that my grandfather wasn’t alive to see this happen. I know it was his pride and joy and crowning achievement in all the years that he bred and raced horses along with his full brother Dogoon. They were running simultaneously during that period.” Drake died in 1974.
The 16-member Nominating Committee considered more than 100 candidates for the contemporary categories before selecting 13 finalists. To qualify for the ballot, candidates were required to receive at least a majority of votes from the committee. The winners received the most votes from the 186 voters in the United States and Canada. A total of 177 ballots, 95 percent, were returned.
The Historic Review Committee is composed of 12 members. The committee reviewed and discussed the credentials of the nominees during a conference call and voted to select a finalist in each category. To be elected, the finalist was required to receive approval from at least 75 percent of the committee members. When McCabe and Forrest finished in a deadheat, both were elected to the Hall of Fame.
Edward L. Bowen chairs both Hall of Fame Nominating Committee and the Historic Review Committee. The latter committees’ members are Museum historian Allan Carter; Jane Goldstein retired publicist at Santa Anita; Museum trustee Ken Grayson; Russ Harris, handicapper and turf writer for the New York Daily News; Daily Racing Form Executive Columnist Jay Hovdey; writer and author Bill Mooney; writer and author William Nack, Saratogian turf columnist and Museum trustee Michael Veitch; Museum Chairman John von Stade; and Fort Worth Star-Telegram turf writer Gary West.
The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, August 6 at the Fasig-Tipton Sales Pavilion. It is open to the public free of charge.