By Lynne Snierson
Multiple graded stakes-winning trainer Tim Hills; four-time New England-bred champion Ask Queenie and her owner/breeder Lloyd Lockhart; jockey Leroy Moyers; and longtime publicity director Bob Varey are the newly-elected members of the New England Turf Writers Hall of Fame.
"This is a wonderful honor," said Hills, a Nashua, N.H. native who began his career at Rockingham Park and Suffolk Downs 37 years ago and has 1,883 career wins from 12,133 starts with $36,352,568 in earnings through May 12. "I am humbled and flattered."
Hills, who moved his operation to the New Jersey/New York and Florida circuits in the 1990s has consistently been among the top tier trainers there and took home leading trainer honors at Monmouth Park in 2002 and 2004. Former New England-based multiple graded stakes winner San's the Shadow is among his many stakes winners.
Ask Queenie is one of the most decorated and celebrated Massachusetts-breds in history. She was bred and owned by Lloyd Lockhart and trained by his daughter, Lori Lockhart.
In her career she won 27 of her 63 starts and earned $780,365, more than any other Mass-bred in history. Her most successful campaign was her 4-year-old season (2005) when she was voted New England's Horse of the Year and earned top turf female and the first of her four consecutive New England-bred Champion honors.
It is fitting that Ask Queenie and Lockhart enter the Hall of Fame in the same class. Over the course of nearly seven decades, the Lockhart name has been synonymous with success in New England racing. Lloyd Lockhart bred and raced multiple New England champions, including Mr. Meso and Southofttheborder. With active Thoroughbred breeding farms in both Massachusetts and Florida, Lockhart has bred, raised, owned, and trained horses which have been competitive throughout the country.
Moyers was one of the top jockeys on the New England circuit that included Rhode Island tracks in the 1960s. He won most of the key stakes events of that era including the Massachusetts Handicap with Air Pilot in 1962 and Beau Marker in 1969.
Moyers will be remembered for an especially impressive riding feat when he won seven of nine races at Suffolk Downs July 4, 1967. He also rode five winners on three occasions. He was Suffolk's leading rider in the spring meets of 1964, 1965, and 1967 and also topped standings at Rockingham. Moyers, who was born in 1937 in Alabama, won 3,770 races in 26,040 starts, and his mounts earned $21,491,585.
After a long career as sportswriter, Varey was hired as publicity director for Suffolk Downs beginning in the late 1960s when famed sports executive Bill Veeck ran the track. He played a key role in those days in publicizing many of Veeck's unique promotions. He also brought attention to the $252,750 Yankee Gold Cup in 1969, which was the richest turf race in the world. Bob stayed on as publicity director during the 1970s as the track changed ownerships.
The names of this year's inductees will be added to a plaque that is displayed in the New England Thoroughbred racing exhibit at the Sports Museum located in the TD Garden. The Hall of Fame class of 2013 will be honored along with the 2012 NETWA annual award winners at the organization's 71st Annual Awards Dinner on Thursday, July 18 at the Danversport Yacht Club in Danvers, Mass.
The panel of voters consisted of current, active NETWA members. A two-thirds majority among the voters was required for election.