Longtime Buffalo Bills owner Ralph C. Wilson Jr., who formerly was prominent in Thoroughbred breeding and racing, has been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. At age 90, Wilson will be the oldest person ever inducted when ceremonies are held Aug. 8 in Canton, Ohio.
Wilson, whose team is based in New York, received the biggest ovation at the Hall of Fame announcement Jan. 31 in Tampa, Fla., the Associated Press reported. Other honorees are former players Bruce Smith, Rod Woodson, Derrick Thomas, Randall McDaniel, and Bob Hayes.
“Pro football to me is not about making money,” said Wilson, according to the Associated Press. “It’s a matter of competition, the flow of the game. People in the community become attached to a team. It gives them a quality of life. I had a chance to move that team. I think it would be crazy to do that.”
Wilson bred 1971 Santa Anita Derby winner Jim French and Arazi, the Eclipse Award winner as champion 2-year-old male in 1991. A son of Blushing Groom, Arazi scored in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I). He captured three group I events in France, where he also was a champion.
Another horse bred by Wilson was Ajdal, who was a champion in 1987 in England. In 1985, Wilson set what then was a world Thoroughbred auction record when he bought back the son of Northern Dancer for $7.5 million at the Keeneland July select yearling auction. That mark wasn’t broken until 2008, when Michael Paulson bought back Vallenzeri (by a Horse of the Year, A.P. Indy, out of another Horse of the Year, Azeri) for $7.7 million at the Keeneland September yearling sale.
Wilson bred and raced French group III winner Fabuleux Jane, who was a half-sister to Ajdal.