Before running through a list of people who had helped him reach the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame on August 6, retired jockey Jose Santos paid tribute to his late father, Manuel.
Santos said his father, a jockey in his native Chile, who died late last year at the age of 74, got him started riding Thoroughbreds when he was eight years old.
"My father was my teacher," Santos said. "He taught me everything that I know about horses and I’m going to dedicate this plaque to him today because if it were not for him, I would not be here."
Joining Santos in the Class of 2007 were fellow jockey John Sellers, trainers Henry Forrest, Frank McCabe and John Veitch and the horses Mom’s Command, Silver Charm and Swoon’s Son. They were formally inducted into the Hall of Fame during a ceremony at the Fasig-Tipton Sales Pavilion.
Following the final induction, Museum president Stella F. Thayer announced that Martha Gerry had been named an Exemplar of Racing. Gerry, a Thoroughbred owner since 1942, campaigned three-time Horse of the Year Forego, a member of the Hall of Fame. She is a member of The Jockey Club, is chairman emeritus of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame’s Board of Trustees and is an influential leader in the racing industry.
Gerry is the first woman to be named an Exemplar of Racing and the first person to be honored with the award since C.V. Whitney in 1991. The other Exemplars and the years they were selected: George D. Widener (1971; Walter M. Jeffords (1973); John W. Hanes (1982); and Paul Mellon (1989).
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.
A standing-room-only crowd of over 1,200 people listened to the keynote address delivered by Rick Pitino, the distinguished men’s basketball coach at the University of Louisville, who has owned Thoroughbreds for two decades.
Santos, 46, announced his retirement from riding on July 30, six months after suffering serious back injuries in a spill at Aqueduct. During his career in North America, Santos won 4,083 races, his horses earned over $187 million in purses and he was the leading rider four consecutive years. In 2003, he rode Funny Cide to victories in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. In addition to Funny Cide, he was the regular rider or frequent rider of champions Manila, Meadow Star, Criminal Type, Chief Bearhart, Fleet Indian, Fly So Free and Rubiano.
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.
Like Santos, Veitch received a standing ovation when he was introduced.
"I am so proud to stand here before you today," Veitch said. "I have been truly blessed all of my life, having a wonderful mother and a wonderful father, great mentors in Preston Burch and Elliott Burch and, certainly, my father."
Veitch thanked the countless grooms, exercise riders, foremen and assistant trainers, who helped him be successful.
As he concluded his remarks, Veitch repeated a quote from Robert E. Lee about honor.
"The primary goal of my life always has been and always will be that wherever I am, whatever I did, whether I was successful or whether I failed, that my mother and father were proud of me," he said. "They would be proud of me today."
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.
Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, the colt’s regular rider, presented Silver Charm’s plaque to Beverly Lewis.
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.
Peter Fuller was unable to attend the ceremony, but was represented by his son, Peter Jr., his daughter, Abby Fuller-Catalano and Allard.
Fuller-Catalano said she decided to be a jockey when she was nine years old after watching the 1968 Kentucky Derby.
"I never did win the Derby, but this is even better," she said. (Mom’s Command) was incredible. She did what we knew she could do. She was a horse you could count on and it was an honor to ride her. Ned did a great job training her."
When she began to get emotional, Fuller-Catalano said it was Allard’s turn to speak.
"This is a real honor," Allard said. "I want to thank everyone for showing up today and acknowledging Mom’s Command. She was a great, great horse.
"In 1957 I started on the racetrack as a hotwalker for George Handy. This is a perfect example that dreams can come true."
Sellers, 70, 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 member Carry Back to victories in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness.
Forrest was a native of Covington, Ky., and trained from 1937 until his death in 1975 at the age of 67. He saw every Kentucky Derby from 1921 until he died 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.
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.
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.