Baffert, Maple, Elliot to Hall of Fame

Baffert, Maple, Elliot to Hall of Fame
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
Bob Baffert was elected to the Racing Hall of Fame in his first year on the ballot.

Trainer Bob Baffert and one of the best fillies he trained – Silverbulletday – along with jockey Eddie Maple and steeplechase trainer Janet Elliot are among the latest additions to the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame.

Baffert’s election came on the first year in which his name was on the ballot. Silverbulletday was elected in the contemporary female horse category. The other finalist for trainer was Bob Wheeler and the other female horse finalists were Open Mind and Sky Beauty.

Another Baffert trainee, 2001 Horse of the Year Point Given  , was a finalist in the contemporary male category which went to Tiznow  . Best Pal was the other finalist in that category.

In the jockey category, Eddie Maple was elected over Randy Romero and Alex Solis.

Baffert, Maple, Silverbulletday and Tiznow were elected in the contemporary categories by the 181 members of the Hall of Fame’s voting panel.

Elliot, the second woman elected and the Hall of Fame’s first female trainer, and Ben Nevis II, winner of the English Grand National in 1980, were selected for induction by the steeplechase committee.

The 2009 Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place Friday, August 14 at the Fasig-Tipton sales pavilion in Saratoga Springs.

Baffert and Silverbulletday are the first trainer-horse combination to be inducted in the same year since Neil Drysdale and A.P. Indy entered the Hall of Fame together in 2000

“That is awesome. That is really awesome,” Baffert said in a release announcing the winners. “I don’t know what to say. I never expected this when I got in the business. I’m sort of at a loss for words. It’s an honor,” he said. “It’s a very humbling feeling right now. I’ve always thought about it, but I really wasn’t mentally prepared for it when I heard about being on the ballot this year.”

Baffert, 56, has trained the winners of eight Triple Crown races, seven Breeders’ Cup races and has handled 10 champions, including Mike Pegram’s Silverbulletday. Baffert made the transition to Thoroughbred racing after a successful career with Quarter Horses.

Maple, 60, retired in 1998 with 4,398 wins in a 34-year career.  He won the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) on Temperence Hill and Crème Fraiche and was regular rider for Hall of Fame trainer Woody Stephens.

“I’m tickled to death,” Maple said of being elected on his seventh time on the ballot. “It’s an honor…  I enjoyed riding all those years and to have something like this come back is really, really thrilling.”

Silverbulletday was the champion 2-year-old filly of 1998 and the champion 3-year-old filly of 1999. She won 15 of 23 career starts and compiled purse earnings of $3,093,207. Her victories included the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, Ashland, Kentucky Oaks, Alabama and Gazelle, all grade I.

Tiznow won eight of his 15 career starts and earned $6,427,830. The California-bred son of Cee’s Tizzy is the only two-time winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I). Trained by Jay Robbins for owner-breeder Cecilia Straub Rubens, Tiznow was the 3-year-old champion and Horse of the Year in 2000 and the champion older male in 2001. He is now a successful young sire, standing at WinStar Farm near Versailles, Ky.

A native of Cobh in County Cork, Ireland, Elliot joins retired jockey Julie Krone as the only two females in the Hall of Fame. Elliot, 60, moved to the United States in 1968 and was an assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard before beginning her own stable in 1979. Among the top horses she has trained have been Census, Corregio, Flat Top. In 1991, Elliot became the first woman to win a national training title when she led the steeplechase standings in wins and earnings.

The 16-member nominating committee considered more than 80 candidates for the contemporary categories before selecting 11 finalists. To qualify for the ballot, candidates were required to receive at least a majority of votes from the committee.

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