National Museum of Racing announces 2017 Hall of Fame finalists
Five jockeys, three trainers and three racehorses comprise the 11 finalists on the National Museum of Racing’s 2017 Hall of Fame ballot, as selected by the Museum’s Hall of Fame Nominating Committee. The finalists are: jockeys Robby Albarado, Javier Castellano, Victor Espinoza Garrett Gomez and Craig Perret; trainers Mark Casse, John Shirreffs and David Whiteley; and the racehorses Gio Ponti, Goldikova and Kona Gold.
Albarado, Castellano, Casse, Shirreffs, Gio Ponti and Goldikova are first-time finalists. Hall of Fame voters may select as many candidates as they believe are worthy of induction to the Hall of Fame. A maximum of four candidates with the highest vote totals — provided they receive majority approval (50.1 percent) of the voting panel — will be elected to the Hall of Fame. The results of the voting on contemporary candidates will be announced on Monday, April 24. The induction ceremony will be held at the Fasig-Tipton Sales Pavilion in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., on Friday, Aug. 4 at 10:30 a.m. The ceremony will be open to the public and is free to attend.
The finalists were selected by the Hall of Fame’s Nominating Committee from a total of 86 initial candidates suggested by turf journalists, thoroughbred industry participants and racing fans. To be eligible, trainers must have been licensed for 25 years, while jockeys must have been licensed for 20 years. Thoroughbreds are required to be retired for five calendar years before becoming eligible. All candidates must have been active within the past 25 years. The 20- and 25-year requirements for jockeys and trainers, respectively, may be waived, at the discretion of the Museum’s Executive Committee. Candidates not active within the past 25 years are eligible through the Historic Review process.
Albarado, 43, has won 5,026 races to date with purse earnings of more than $206 million in a career that began in 1990. The regular rider of two-time Horse of the Year and Hall of Fame member Curlin, as well as Horse of the Year Mineshaft, Albarado has won seven riding titles at Fair Grounds, four at Keeneland, two at Oaklawn and one each at Arlington and Churchill Downs. The 2004 George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award winner, Albarado has won 202 graded stakes in his career, including three Breeders’ Cup races and the 2007 Preakness Stakes.
Albarado has ranked among the top 15 North American jockeys in earnings 10 times and in wins four times. With 2007 and 2008 Horse of the Year Curlin, Albarado won the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Preakness, Woodward, Dubai World Cup, Stephen Foster and two editions of the Jockey Club Gold Cup. He won the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Pimlico Special, Suburban and Woodward with 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft. Albarado has won three Breeders’ Cup races, including the 2011 Mile with Court Vision at odds of 64.80 to 1, defeating three-time winner Goldikova in the process.
Castellano, 39, won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. He has 4,632 career wins to date and ranks fifth all time in purse earnings with more than $272 million in a career that began in 1997. Castellano has won 10 riding titles on the New York Racing Association circuit, five at Gulfstream and two at Keeneland.
North America’s leading rider in earnings each year from 2013 through 2016 and the leader by wins in 2013 and 2015, Castellano set a single-year earnings record with $28.1 million in 2015. He has won 348 graded stakes, ranked in the top 10 in earnings 11 times and the top 10 in wins seven times. Castellano won the 2006 Preakness with Bernardini and has won the Travers a record five times. A winner of seven Breeders’ Cup races, Castellano’s top mounts have included 2004 Horse of the Year and Hall of Fame member Ghostzapper, as well as champions Flintshire, Honor Code, Princess of Sylmar, Dayatthespa and Zagora.
Espinoza, 44, has won 3,316 races to date with purse earnings of more than $192 million in a career that began in 1992. The regular rider for 2015 Triple Crown winner and Horse of the Year American Pharoah and two-time Horse of the Year California Chrome, Espinoza twice won the first two legs of the Triple Crown — with War Emblem in 2002 and California Chrome in 2014 — before sweeping the series with American Pharoah.
One of only 10 jockeys to win the Kentucky Derby three times or more, Espinoza has won 240 graded stakes in his career and ranked in the top 10 nationally in earnings seven times. He has won four riding titles at both Del Mar and Hollywood Park and two at Santa Anita. The winner of the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 2016, Espinoza has won three Breeders’ Cup races and set a track record by winning seven races on a single card at Del Mar in 2006.
Gomez (1972-2016) won 3,769 races with purse earnings of more than $205 million in a career that began in 1988 and concluded in 2013. The winner of the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey in 2007 and 2008, Gomez won 13 Breeders’ Cup races and earned the Bill Shoemaker Award as the top jockey at the Breeders’ Cup four times. He won a record 76 stakes races in 2007 and was the North American leading rider by earnings each year from 2006 through 2009.
A winner of 318 graded stakes races, Gomez won three riding titles at Hollywood Park and one each at Arlington, Keeneland and Santa Anita. Among his Breeders’ Cup victories was the 2010 Classic with champion Blame, handing Zenyatta her lone career defeat. Gomez ranked among the top 10 in earnings seven times.
Perret, 66, won 4,415 races with purse earnings of more than $113 million in a career that spanned from 1967 through 2005. The Eclipse Award winner for Outstanding Jockey in 1990, Perret won the Belmont Stakes in 1987 with Bet Twice by 14 lengths, denying Alysheba the Triple Crown. Three years later, Perret won the Kentucky Derby with Unbridled. The regular rider of Hall of Famers Housebuster and Safely Kept, Perret won four Breeders’ Cup races and totaled 208 graded stakes wins.
Perret, who won two riding titles at both Arlington and Monmouth, won the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 1988. Prior to the Eclipse Awards, Perret was the leading apprentice rider in North America by earnings in 1967.
Casse, 56, has won 2,200 races to date with purse earnings of more than $125 million in a career that began in 1979. A 2016 Canadian Racing Hall of Fame inductee, Casse has won the Sovereign Award for Outstanding Trainer in Canada eight times and owns 11 training titles at Woodbine. He has won three Breeders’ Cup races and currently trains reigning Eclipse Award winners Tepin and Classic Empire.
Along with his perennial success in Canada, Casse has won four training titles at Turfway Park, two at Keeneland and one at Churchill Downs. He has won five races in the Canadian Triple Crown series and a total of 108 graded stakes. Casse has trained 13 horses that have earned $1 million or more.
Shirreffs, 71, became a licensed trainer in 1978 and to date has won 464 races with purse earnings of more than $44 million. He is best known as the trainer of 2010 Horse of the Year and Hall of Fame member Zenyatta, winner in 19 of her 20 career starts and the all-time earnings leader among female racehorses with more than $7.3 million. Under the guidance of Shirreffs, Zenyatta won 13 Grade 1 races, including the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic and the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic.
In 2005, Shirreffs won the Kentucky Derby with Giacomo at odds of 50 to 1. Shirreffs also won the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic in 2009 with Life Is Sweet. Other Grade 1 winners trained by Shirreffs include Tiago, Manistique, Hollywood Story, After Market, Harmonious, Starrer and Tarlow.
Whiteley, 71, won 678 races and had purse earnings of more than $11 million in a career that spanned from 1970 through 1995. He trained Eclipse Award winners Waya, Revidere and Just a Game and won the Belmont Stakes in 1979 with Coastal, thwarting the Triple Crown hopes of Spectacular Bid.
A winner of 32.7 percent of his starts (678 for 2,068), Whiteley won 45 graded stakes. His Grade 1 winners included Highland Blade, French Colonial, Instrument Landing May Day Eighty, Northernette and Tiller.
Bred in Kentucky, Gio Ponti (Tale of the Cat—Chipeta Springs, by Alydar) won the Eclipse Award for Champion Turf Male in 2009 and 2010 and the Eclipse for Champion Older Male in 2009. Racing from 2007 through 2011, Gio Ponti posted a career record of 12-10-1 from 29 starts and earned $6,169,800. Owned by Castleton Lyons and trained by Christophe Clement, Gio Ponti won 10 graded stakes, including eight Grade 1s. His Grade 1 wins included consecutive editions of both the Man o’ War Stakes in 2009 and 2010 and the Shadwell Turf Mile in 2010 and 2011.
Bred in Ireland, Goldikova (Anabaa—Born Gold, by Blushing Groom), won the Eclipse Award for Champion Turf Female in 2009 and 2010. In four North American starts, she won three consecutive runnings of the Breeders’ Cup Mile from 2008 through 2010 and finished third in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Mile. She posted a career record of 17-6-3 from 27 starts and earned $7,176,551. Based in Europe, Goldikova was owned by Wertheimer and Frere and trained by Freddy Head. Racing from 2007 through 2011, Goldikova won a total of 14 Grade/Group 1 races, including nine victories against males.
Bred in Kentucky, Kona Gold (Java Gold—Double Sunrise, by Slew o’ Gold), won the Eclipse Award for Champion Sprinter in 2000. He also won the Breeders’ Cup Sprint that year, setting a Santa Anita track record in the process. He also placed in two other runnings of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Racing from 1998 through 2003, Kona Gold posted a career record of 14-7-2 from 30 starts and earned $2,293,384. A winner of 10 graded stakes, including two Grade 1s, Kona Gold was trained by Bruce Headley and owned by a partnership that included the trainer. Kona Gold’s wins included two editions each of the El Conejo Handicap (1999, 2003), Bing Crosby Handicap (2000, 2001) and Portrero Grande Breeders’ Cup Handicap (2000, 2001).
Chaired by Edward L. Bowen, the Hall of Fame Nominating Committee is comprised of Bowen, Cot Campbell, Tim Capps, Steven Crist, Tracy Gantz-White, Teresa Genaro, Jane Goldstein, Steve Haskin, Jay Hovdey, Tom Law, Leverett Miller, Neil Milbert, Bill Nack, Jay Privman, John Sparkman and John von Stade.