Two-time Horse of the Year Curlin and trainer Steve Asmussen, who saddled him to nine group/graded stakes wins in the years he won those titles, are among 10 finalists on the National Museum of Racing's 2014 Hall of Fame ballot.
Four jockeys, four Thoroughbreds, and two trainers comprise the 10 finalists on this year's ballot, as selected by the Hall of Fame Nominating Committee. The candidates are: jockeys Chris Antley, Garrett Gomez, Craig Perret, and Alex Solis; Thoroughbreds Ashado, Curlin, Kona Gold, and Xtra Heat; and trainers Asmussen and Gary Jones.
Champion sprinter Kona Gold joins Curlin and Asmussen as first-time finalists. Hall of Fame voters may select as many candidates as they believe worthy of induction to the Hall of Fame. The four candidates with the highest vote totals will be elected.
The results of the voting on contemporary candidates will be announced on Friday, April 25. The induction ceremony will be held at the Fasig-Tipton Sales Pavilion in Saratoga Springs on Friday, Aug. 8 at 10:30 a.m. The ceremony is free and open to the public.
Antley won 3,480 races and had purse earnings of $92,261,894 in a career that spanned from 1983 to 2000. He won 127 graded stakes races and 293 overall stakes. The leading North American rider by wins in 1985 with 469, Antley was a two-time Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner, taking the Run for the Roses with Strike the Gold in 1991 and with Charismatic in 1999. He also won the Preakness with Charismatic.
Gomez has won 3,769 races and has purse earnings of $205,224,899 in a career that began in 1988. He has won 318 graded stakes and 566 overall stakes. Gomez won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey in 2007 and 2008 and led all North American riders in earnings each year from 2006 through 2009.
Gomez won a record 76 stakes races in 2007 and has 13 Breeders' Cup wins to his credit, including the 2010 Classic (gr. I) with champion Blame .
Perret won 4,415 races and had purse earnings of $113,837,299 in a career that spanned from 1967 through 2005. He was the leading apprentice jockey in earnings in 1967 and won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey in 1990. Perret won the Kentucky Derby with Unbridled in 1990 and the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) with Bet Twice in 1987. He won four Breeders' Cup races.
Solis has won 4,980 races and has purse earnings of $234,665,846 in a career that began in 1982. He has won 321 graded stakes and 633 overall stakes. Solis has won three Breeders' Cup races, including the 2003 Classic with Pleasantly Perfect. He won the 1986 Preakness with Snow Chief. He ranks ninth all time in earnings and 30th in wins.
Ashado (Saint Ballado—Goulash, by Mari's Book), bred in Kentucky and owned by Starlight Stables, Paul Saylor and Johns Martin, won 12 of her 21 career starts with purse earnings of $3,931,440. She was named Champion 3-Year-Old Female in 2004 and Champion Older Female in 2005. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Ashado won the Spinaway (gr. I), Schuylerville (gr. II), and Demoiselle (gr. II) at 2. At 3, she won the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I), Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I), Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II), and Cotillion Handicap (gr. II). In her final season, at age 4 in 2005, Ashado won three more grade I races: the Go for Wand Handicap, Ogden Phipps Handicap, and Beldame.
Curlin (Smart Strike—Sherriff's Deputy, by Deputy Minister), bred in Kentucky and owned by Jess Jackson's Stonestreet Stables after a private sale early in his 3-year-old season, won 11 of 16 career starts and has the highest purse earnings in North American history at $10,501,800, surpassing the previous mark set by Cigar. Trained for the majority of his career by Steve Asmussen, Curlin won the Breeders' Cup Classic, Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I), Preakness, Arkansas Derby (gr. II) and Rebel (gr. III) at 3 in 2007 to be named Horse of the Year and Champion 3-Year-Old Male. At 4, he was again Horse of the Year and added Champion Older Male honors. Curlin won the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I), Stephen Foster (gr. I), Woodward (gr. I) and his second Jockey Club Gold Cup in 2008. Overall, he won nine graded/group stakes, including seven Grade/Group 1s.
Kona Gold (Java Gold—Double Sunrise, by Slew o' Gold), bred in Kentucky and owned in partnership by trainer Bruce Headley, Irwin and Andrew Molasky, and Michael Singh's High Tech Stable, won 14 of 30 career starts with earnings of $2,293,384. He won the Eclipse Award for Champion Sprinter and was runner-up for Horse of the Year in 2000 when he won the Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I), Ancient Title (gr. II), Bing Crosby (gr. II), Potrero Grande (gr. II) and Palos Verdes (gr. II). In winning the Breeders' Cup Sprint, Kona Gold broke the Churchill Downs and Breeders' Cup record for six furlongs with a time of 1:07.77.
A five-time Breeders' Cup Sprint participant, Kona Gold won the Bing Crosby and Potrero Grande again in 2001. He also had multiple victories in the El Conejo Handicap, including a Santa Anita track record in 1999. Kona Gold's other major wins included the San Carlos Handicap (gr. I) and Los Angeles Handicap (gr. III). Overall, he won 10 graded stakes, including two Grade 1s.
Xtra Heat (Dixieland Heat—Begin, by Hatchet Man) won 26 of 35 career starts and finished out of the money only twice with earnings of $2,389,635. Trained by John Salzman Sr., Xtra Heat was named Champion 3-Year-Old Filly in 2001. She won 10 stakes races, including the grade 1 Prioress. Xtra Heat won six races in a row twice during her career and posted two victories in both the grade 2 Barbara Fritchie Handicap and the grade 3 Endine Stakes. She finished second against males in the 2001 Breeders' Cup Sprint and she also won the Vagrancy Handicap (gr. II), Genuine Risk Handicap (gr. II), Beaumont Stakes (gr. II) and Astarita Stakes (gr. II).
Asmussen has won 6,703 races with purse earnings of $214,030,552 in a career that began in 1986. He ranks second all time in wins and fifth in earnings. Asmussen won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Trainer in 2008 and 2009 and has led all North American trainers in wins nine times and earnings three times. Asmussen has won 164 graded stakes and 752 overall stakes. In 2004, Asmussen won 555 races to surpass the single-year record of 496 that had been held by Jack Van Berg since 1976. Asmussen broke his own record in 2008 with 621 wins and topped it once again with 650 wins in 2009.
Asmussen trained Curlin to Horse of the Year honors in 2007 and 2008 and Rachel Alexandra to the Horse of the Year title in 2009. With Curlin, Asmussen won the Preakness, Breeders' Cup Classic, Woodward, Stephen Foster, Arkansas Derby, Rebel and two editions of the Jockey Club Gold Cup. He trained Rachel Alexandra to wins in the Preakness, Woodward, Haskell (gr. I) and Mother Goose. Asmussen has also trained champions Kodiak Kowboy and My Miss Aurelia. He has four Breeders' Cup victories.
Jones won 1,465 races and had purse earnings of $52,672,611 in a career that spanned from 1975 to 1996. He won 102 graded stakes and 233 overall stakes. Jones trained 104 stakes-winning horses, including Turkoman, the 1986 Champion Older Male. Jones trained Turkoman to victories in the Marlboro Cup (gr. I), Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II) and Widener Handicap (gr. I). He conditioned Hall of Famer Best Pal to wins in the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I), Oaklawn Handicap, Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) and Charles H. Strub (gr. I). Jones also trained Kostroma to a world turf record of 1:43 4/5 in the 1 1/8-mile Las Palmas Handicap.
The finalists were selected by the Hall of Fame's 16-member Nominating Committee from a total of 84 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, while 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. The 20- and 25-year requirements for jockeys and trainers, respectively, may be waived, but a five-year waiting period is then observed before they become eligible. Candidates not active within the past 25 years are eligible through the Historic Review Committee.