On Saturday, Charles Town announced the eight new members of the Charles Town Racing Hall of Fame to be inducted at the track on December 15.
The Charles Town Racing Hall of Fame is comprised of individuals and horses with ties to Charles Town that have displayed superior performance or achievement in their careers in racing. Candidates are voted on and inducted in one of four categories: Distinguished Achievement, Horse, Industry and Jockey.
The eight new inductees, which include Bill Hartack and Dr. Dale Keyser who tied in the balloting for the Distinguished Achievement category, join the 32 other members who were inducted in the previous three classes.
Hartack, one of the most prolific riders in the history of U.S. racing, began his career in racing at Charles Town in 1949 and would ride his first winner at Waterford Park in 1952. He lead all riders in wins during Charles Town's 1952 meet and, by his third season, Hartack was the United States' leading jockey, an honor he would go on to win three more times. Included in his 4,272 winners are five victories in the Kentucky Derby, three in the Preakness and one in the Belmont Stakes. Hartack also became the first jockey with $3 million in purse earnings in a one year and retired in 1981, following a brief stint riding in Hong Kong.
Keyser was a long time practicing veterinarian in Jefferson County who originally came to Charles Town to do an internship with fellow 2012 Hall of Fame inductee Dr. William Trussell at Trussell's veterinary practice. He would go on to be a longtime official for the West Virginia Racing Commission and West Virginia Department of Agriculture prior to his passing in 2008.
Cortan and Onion Juiced share the Horse category.
Known for his Mid-Atlantic rivalry with fellow Charles Town Hall of Famer Jiva Coolit, Cortan won nearly half of his 60 career starts, finding the winner's circle in 28 of them. Owned by Charles Russell and trained by Bob Rawlings, the son of Illustrious was known for his tremendous versatility winning at distances ranging from 3 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/16 miles.
Owned and trained by Buck Woodson, Onion Juice won 27 of his 65 lifetime starts in a career that spanned from his two-year-old season in 1982 through 1988. While eight of those wins came in stakes, none were bigger than his victory in the inaugural running of the West Virginia Breeders' Classic in 1987. When all was said and done, Onion Juice had amassed more than $220,000 in career earnings.
Eddie Maple and William R. Lewis Jr. are the inductees in the Jockey category.
Maple won his first race at age 17 aboard Swami in 1966 at Charles Town. He began his career in Ohio and West Virginia and moved on to New Jersey before establishing himself in New York in 1971. All told, Maple would go on to pilot 4,398 winners and captured two Belmont Stakes in a career that came to a close in 1998. Maple would later be inducted into the National Racing Hall of Fame in 2009.
Lewis had a decorated riding career that saw him ride 2,647 winners, with the last coming in 2009. Lewis won four races in the West Virginia Breeders' Classics including a victory in the inaugural running of the West Virginia Breeders' Classic aboard Onion Juice in 1987.
Jeff Runco and Dr. William Trussell will be honored in the Industry category.
Following his start in the racing industry as a jockey, Runco successfully made the switch to the trainer ranks in the mid-1980s. At the time of his 3,000th victory as a trainer in April 2011, Runco stood as one of only eight trainers in U.S. racing history with 3,000 wins and a winning percentage of 20 percent or higher. Included in those wins are two Charles Town Classic victories with Researcher and three tallies in the West Virginia Breeders' Classic.
Born in Charles Town in 1907, Trussell was a well-known veterinarian in Jefferson County for more than a half-century. In addition to his private practice, Trussell served as the track veterinarian at Charles Town and Shenandoah Downs from 1934 through 1971. Trussell also had stints as the president of the West Virginia Veterinary Association and a member of the American Association of Equine Practitioners.