Stronach Stable’s 2004 Horse of the Year Ghostzapper , jockey John Velazquez, and trainers Roger Attfield and Robert Wheeler have been elected to the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame.
Ghostzapper, Velazquez, Attfield, and Wheeler were elected in the contemporary category by the 183 members of the Hall of Fame voting panel. The induction ceremony will be held at the Fasig-Tipton's Humphrey S. Finney Pavilion in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., on Aug. 10 at 10:30 a.m. (EDT). The ceremony is free and open to the public.
Ghostzapper won nine of 11 career starts and earned $3,446,120. He was named Horse of the Year and champion older male in 2004 when he posted a 4-for-4 record. A homebred campaigned by Frank Stronach and trained by Bobby Frankel, Ghostzapper won the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) in stakes-record time. Among the other races he won were the Woodward Stakes, Vosburgh Stakes, and Metropolitan Handicap, all grade I.
Velazquez has won 4,803 races, including 733 stakes, and has earned more than $263 million. He won the Eclipse Award for outstanding jockey in 2004 and 2005 and led all North American riders in earnings during those years. He set a record with 65 wins at Saratoga in 2004. Velazquez has won 22 riding titles at New York Racing Association tracks and led all New York jockeys in wins from 2001 through 2004. He has nine Breeders’ Cup Championship wins to his credit. In 2011, Velazquez won the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) with Animal Kingdom and in 2007 he took the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) with Rags to Riches.
Attfield has saddled the winners of 1,731 races, including 369 stakes, and has purse earnings of more than $88 million. He has won the Sovereign Award for outstanding Canadian trainer a record eight times and trained three Canadian Triple Crown winners (Izvestia, With Approval, and Peteski). Attfield has won a record-tying eight runnings of the Queen’s Plate (Can-I) and won his first Breeders’ Cup race in 2011 when Perfect Shirl took the Filly and Mare Turf (gr. IT).
Wheeler, whose career spanned 1938 through 1992, won 1,336 races while training for prominent owners such as C.V. Whitney, J. Rukin Jelks, Greentree Stable, and Nelson Bunker Hunt. He conditioned 56 stakes winners, including 1982 champion older female Track Robbery. The majority of his career predates the graded stakes program, but from 1976 on he won 18 of the 69 (26%) graded stakes his horses ran in and 44 of his 175 (25%) overall stakes attempts. In 1959 and 1960, Wheeler’s West Coast-based division included Tompion, winner of the Santa Anita Derby, Blue Grass Stakes, and Malibu, and the distaff pair of Bug Brush and Silver Spoon.
The finalists were selected by the Hall of Fame’s 16-member nominating committee from a total of 82 candidates suggested throughout the year by Turf journalists, Thoroughbred industry participants, and racing fans. To be eligible, trainers must have been active for 25 years and jockeys must have been active for 20 years. Thoroughbreds must have been retired for five years. All candidates must have been active within the past 25 years. A separate Historic Review Committee is assigned to consider candidates whose careers were completed more than 25 years ago.