Frank Stronach, one of North America's most influential people in the Thoroughbred racing industry, and Sam-Son Farm's Chief Bearhart, winner of the $2 million Breeders' Cup Turf in 1997, head a list of six candidates for nomination into Canada's Horse Racing Hall of Fame.
Stronach is founder of the automotive parts manufacturing giant Magna International and chairman of Magna Entertainment Corp., which is the largest operator of racetracks in the United States. He is one of two nominees in the Builders' category for owners, breeders, and anyone has contributed to the growth and betterment of the industry. The other nominee is M.J. "Jim" Boylen of Lanson Farms, a powerful racing stable in Ontario during the 1950s and 1960s.
Stronach, who emigrated from Austria to Canada in 1954, has been North America's leading money winning owner and breeder, and winner of numerous Eclipse and Sovereign Awards in the United States and Canada.
He has won two Queen's Plates (Basqueian, 1994; Awesome Again, 1997), a Belmont Stakes (gr. I) (Touch Gold, 1997), a Preakness Stakes (gr. I) (Red Bullet, 2000), plus three Breeders' Cup races--the 1998 Classic with Awesome Again, the 2000 Filly and Mare Turf (gr. IT) with Perfect Sting, and the 2000 Juvenile (gr. I) with Macho Uno.
Chief Bearhart, twice voted Canada's Horse Of The Year (1997, 1998), is the lone Thoroughbred horse on the ballot. He won the 1997 Canadian International (Can-IT) and numerous stakes on the grass in the U.S.
Toronto-born jockey Ted Atkinson, the first rider whose mounts earned more than $1 million in a year and twice North America's leading jockey in the 1940s, is on the ballot as well as trainers David C. Cross Jr., and MacDonald (Mac) Benson.
Cross, a native of British Columbia, is one of two Canadian-born trainers to win America's most prestigious race, the Kentucky Derby. He trained Sunny's Halo to victory in 1983, matching the feat of Lucien Laurin in 1973 with Triple Crown winner Secretariat.
Benson, a veteran trainer from Wilmington, Delaware, took over Windfields Farm's stable at Woodbine in 1978 and promptly won the Queen's Plate for owner E.P. Taylor with Regal Embrace. He also won the Plate in 1985 with La Lorgnette, who became only the second filly to win both the Canadian Oaks and Plate. At Woodbine he has won almost 500 races.
Canada's Hall of Fame, the only one to honour the feats of both Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds, also announced today the names of five candidates on the harness racing ballot.
They include builders Irving Liverman and Tom Joy, veteran driver/trainer Bud Fritz and champion pacers Precious Bunny and Staying Together.
The Hall of Fame's 16-person election committee will receive a ballot with the six nominees during the first week in June. It can vote for a maximum of four nominees. A successful candidate must receive at least 75% (12 votes) for induction. The announcement of this year's inductees will be made on June 11.
This year's Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, set for Aug. 29, will be staged at the Congress Centre on Dixon Road next Highway 27.