Seven horses, three jockeys, and two trainers were selected by a vote from the 16-member Hall of Fame Nominating Committee, which is chaired by Edward L. Bowen. A total of 81 candidates were considered.
Notably missing from the category of nominated trainers was California conditioner Bob Baffert, who has been eligible for election to the Hall of Fame for the past two years.
“In the case of Bob Baffert, he has trained at least one starter in a Thoroughbred race in each of 26 years and so he is declared eligible,” Bowen remarked in a statement issued by the National Museum of Racing. “However, he was primarily a Quarter Horse trainer for a number of years and there were several years in which he had so few Thoroughbred starts that the consensus of the Nominating Committee was that his record does not meet the spirit of the eligibility requirement.”
To be eligible for election to the Hall of Fame, trainers must be licensed and actively involved with Thoroughbreds for 25 years or have been retired for a minimum of five years, jockeys must be licensed for 20 years of have been retired for a minimum of five years, and horses must be retired for five full calendar years.
The late Robert Wheeler is the other finalist in the training category; Randy Romero and Alex Solis are the remaining nominated jockeys; Best Pal, Manila, and Tiznow make up the contemporary male horse category, and Inside Information, Open Mind, Silverbulletday, and Sky Beauty are the nominees in the contemporary female horse category.
Approximately 180 members from the Hall of Fame Voting Panel will receive a ballot in early March. The voters will be asked to select one name in each category. The individual with the highest number of votes in each category will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs on Aug. 4.
In the event of a tie in the number of votes received, more than one finalist will be inducted. All inductees – including those elected by the Historic Review Committee, which will meet in March – will be announced during a national teleconference in late April.
Trainers and Jockeys:
Carl Nafzger: A 66-year-old Texan, the trainer makes the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time this year. In 2007, he campaigned James Tafel’s Street Sense to victories in the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III), the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), the Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. II) and the Travers Stakes (gr. I). He also conditioned champion Unbridled to a 1990 Kentucky Derby win, the same year in which he won the Breeders’ Cup Classic. To date, Nafzger has trained 1,058 winners, amassing $50,237,667 in purses and collecting 68 graded stakes wins through the end of 2007.
Robert Wheeler: The late trainer conditioned runners from his home base in California until his death in 1992 at the age of 72. Two of his best-known stakes winners were C.V. Whitney’s homebred Silver Spoon, the co-champion 3-year-old filly of 1959, and the filly Bug Brush, winner of six stakes in 1959. Wheeler also scored consecutive wins in the Santa Anita Derby, sending Silver Spoon to victory in 1959 and saddling Whitney’s Tompion in 1960. He trained a total of 56 stakes winners including Track Robbery, the older female champion of 1982.
Edgar Prado: A 40-year-old native of Lima, Peru, also makes the ballot for the first time this year. His North American victories total more than 6,000, while his purse earnings through the end of 2007 had grown past $200 million. He won the 2006 Kentucky Derby with Barbaro, the 2002 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) with Sarava, and the 2004 Belmont on Birdstone. Top mounts for 2007 included grade I winners Panty Raid and Scat Daddy, and graded stakes winners Lawyer Ron, Sky Conqueror, King of the Roxy, and Kip Deville.
Randy Romero: Romero, 50, is a native of Erath, La. He was the regular rider for champions such as Personal Ensign and Go for Wand, and rode to victory in three Breeders’ Cup events – the 1987 Breeders’ Cup Distaff, the 1988 Distaff, and the 1989 running of the Juvenile Fillies. He retired in 1999 with 4,294 victories, including 122 graded stakes wins. His purse earnings total $75,264,198.
Alex Solis: Based in California, 43-year-old Solis had 4,534 victories through the end of 2007, with earnings of $205,329,599. The Panama native holds 280 graded stakes victories to his credit, including three Breeders’ Cup events and the 1986 Preakness with Snow Chief.
Contemporary Female Horses:
Inside Information: Inside Information won the 1995 Breeders’ Cup Distaff (gr. I) by 13 lengths, a record that still stands. The race closed out her career and a championship season that included seven wins and one second in eight starts. A daughter of Private Account, bred and owned by Ogden Mills Phipps and trained by Shug McGaughey, she won 14 of 17 starts and earned $1,641,806.
Open Mind: Champion 2-year-old filly of 1988 and champion 3-year-old filly the following year, the D. Wayne Lukas trainee rolled to victory in the 1989 editions of the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) and Alabama Stakes (gr. I) for owner Eugene Klein. She also won the New York Filly Triple Crown with victories in the Acorn Stakes (gr. I), Mother Goose Stakes (gr. I), and Coaching Club of America Oaks (gr. I) The Deputy Minister filly was retired with a 12-2-2 record from 19 starts and earnings of $1,844,372.
Silverbulletday: The daughter of Silver Deputyearned back-to-back Eclipse Awards in 1998 and 1999 as champion 2-year-old and 3-year-old filly. Running for Mike Pegram and trained by Bob Baffert, she scored victories in the 1998 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) and the 1999 editions of the Kentucky Oaks, Alabama Stakes, and Gazelle Stakes (gr. I). She retired as a 5-year-old with a 15-3-1 record from 23 starts and earnings of $3,093,207.
Sky Beauty: Champion older filly in 1994, the daughter of Blushing Groom took the New York Filly Triple Crown in 1993 and won that year’s running of the Alabama as well. She completed her racing career for owner Georgia E. Hofmann and trainer Allen Jerkens with 15 wins from 21 starts and earnings of $1,366,000.
Contemporary Male Horses:
Best Pal: Bred and owned by Mr. and Mrs. John C. Mabee, Best Pal won 17 stakes races from ages two through seven and earned more than $5.6 million. Trained by Ian Jory, Gary Jones, and Richard Mandella over the course of his career, the son of Habitony won several top races on the West Coast including the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I), the Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I), and the Pacific Classic (gr. I).
Manila: Champion turf male in 1986, Manila won the Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT) that year on his way to 12 wins from 18 career starts. The son of Lyphard, trained by LeRoy Jolley for owner Bradley Shannon, collected $2,692,799 in purse earnings. From July of 1986 to August of 1987 he won nine consecutive races.
Tiznow: A son of Cee’s Tizzy, Tiznow is the only two-time winner in the history of the Breeders’ Cup Classic. In 2000 he defeated Giant’s Causeway by a neck, and in 2001 he passed Sakhee by a nose. Trained by Jay Robbins for owner-breeder Cecilia Straub Rubens, he was Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old colt in 2000, and took home honors for champion older male in 2001. He retired with earnings of $6,427,830 and eight wins from 15 starts.