Five persons and three horses will be inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Aug. 6, in the largest induction since 1978 (when nine entered the Hall of Fame).
Jockeys Jose Santos and John Sellers; trainers Henry Forrest, Frank McCabe, and John Veitch; and the horses Mom’s Command, Silver Charm, and Swoon’s Son are this year’s inductees. Santos, Veitch, Mom’s Command, and Silver Charm were elected in the contemporary categories, while Sellers, Forrest, McCabe, and Swoon’s Son were elected by the Historic Review Committee, which considers candidates who have not been active in 25 years.
Forrest, who saddled two Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winners, and McCabe, whose resume includes developing three Hall of Fame horses, tied in the voting for trainer.
The 16-member nominating committee considered more than 100 candidates for the contemporary categories before selecting 13 finalists. To qualify for the ballot, candidates were required to receive at least a majority of votes from the committee.
The winners received the most votes from the 186 voters in the United States and Canada. A total of 177 ballots--95%--were returned.
The Historic Review Committee has 12 members who reviewed and discussed the credentials of the nominees during a conference call and later voted to select a finalist in each category. The finalist was required to receive approval from at least 75% of the committee members to be elected. McCabe and Forrest finished in a dead heat, so both were elected to the Hall of Fame.
During his career, Veitch, 61, trained several champions, but his best-known horse may be Alydar, who was part of the great rivalry with Affirmed in 1977 and 1978. Retired from training since 2003, Veitch is the chief state steward in Kentucky.
Veitch joins his father in the Hall of Fame. Sylvester Veitch, who trained from 1946 until 1984, was inducted in 1977.
“It’s actually the dream of a lifetime,” Veitch said. “When my father was inducted and I saw how important it was to him, it made me realize what an achievement it was. My father said the day they inducted him was the greatest day in his life. That certainly was the greatest day in my life, also, but the day I get inducted will be the second, and I will remember it forever.
“It’s the culmination of all the great horses that I’ve had the privilege to train and the great owners that I represented. It’s a great thing.”
The Veitch family becomes the eighth with multiple members in the Hall of Fame.
The Burch family of trainers is represented by three generations: William P., inducted in the inaugural class in 1955; his son, Preston M., who was inducted in 1963; and his grandson, J. Elliott, inducted in 1980. John Veitch worked as an assistant for Elliott Burch.
Trainer Max Hirsch was inducted in 1959, and his son, William, was honored in 1982; the Jones boys, who handled Calumet Farm’s powerful stable, were inducted in successive years: Ben in 1958, and his son, Jimmy, in 1959; trainer Marion Van Berg was inducted in 1970 and his son, Jack, was inducted in 1985; and trainer G. Carey Winfrey was inducted in 1975, four years after the induction of his step-son, William C. Winfrey.
The Smithwick brothers, jockey Alfred P. and trainer Daniel M., were elected for their accomplishments in steeplechase racing. Daniel was inducted in 1971, and Alfred in 1973. Also from the steeplechase world, trainer Michael Walsh and his nephew, jockey Thomas Walsh, were inducted in 1997 and 2005, respectively.
John Veitch’s champions included Davona Dale, Our Mims, Before Dawn, and Sunshine Forever. Davona Dale and Alydar are members of the Hall of Fame.
After serving as an assistant for his father and Elliott Burch, Veitch opened a small public stable in 1974. He subsequently was offered the position as the private trainer for Calumet Farm and guided that historic stable back to prominence. He moved on to become the private trainer for the Galbreath family’s Darby Dan Farm and enjoyed a long run of success.
"I was very lucky to come along with both Calumet and Darby Dan at the right time when they had some very good horses for me to work with," he said. "It was a wonderful experience to be part of that, part of the history of the game. I had the very best, I saw the very last of the great racing stables, so I'm enjoying my new life as chief state steward here in Kentucky."
In North America from 1976 through his retirement, Veitch recorded 410 victories from 2,339 starters with purse earnings of $20,097,980. He won 76 graded stakes from 401 starts and a total of 93 stakes from 500 starts.
Santos, 46, the rider of Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes (gr. I), and Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) winner Funny Cide, was born in Chile and recorded his first victory there in 1976. He arrived in the United States Jan. 3, 1984, and quickly established himself as a prominent rider.
Santos was the nation’s leading rider in earnings for four consecutive years, 1986-89, and was the Eclipse Award-winning jockey in 1988 when he set a record for purse earnings of $14,856,214.
Through Dec. 31, 2006, Santos had 4,083 victories in North America with purse earnings of $188,278,322. In addition to Funny Cide, he has been the regular rider or frequent rider of champions Manila, Meadow Star, Criminal Type, Chief Bearhart, Fleet Indian, Fly So Free, and Rubiano.
“It’s a great honor just to be nominated and to be elected to the Hall of Fame is even bigger,” Santos said. “I know the history of the Hall of Fame in the United States, that it is all of the best. To be joining them, that's history. I don’t have words to express myself. I came to America in 1984 with $2,000 in my pocket and a suitcase, and after 24 years I'm inducted into the Hall of Fame.”
Santos is recovering from injuries he sustained in a spill at Aqueduct in February and is considering a return to riding.
"Right now I'm doing real good (with rehab)," he said. "I've been in rehab for two weeks and have to wait another 14 weeks. I'm 46 years old and I'm in great shape, I definitely want to ride again. I feel very positive and we'll see after (rehab) where I'm going."
In North America through Dec. 31, 2006, Santos had won 331 graded stakes and a total of 608 stakes, including seven Breeders’ Cup races. In 2006, he won six stakes with Fleet Indian.
Silver Charm is the second Hall of Fame horse for owners Bob and Beverly Lewis. The champion filly Serena’s Song was inducted in 2002.
Racing from 1996-1999 for trainer Bob Baffert, Silver Charm won 12 of 24 starts and earned 6,944,369 in purse money. Eight years after his final race, he stands seventh on the career earnings list.
Silver Charm rose to international prominence in 1997 when he edged Captain Bodgit by a head in the Kentucky Derby and prevailed by a head over Free House in the Preakness, with Captain Bodgit another head back in third. The Florida-bred son of Silver Buck out of the Poker mare Bonnie’s Poker had the lead in the stretch of the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) and appeared poised to complete the sweep of the Triple Crown, but was passed by Touch Gold and finished second by three-quarters of a length. He was the champion 3-year-old.
At four, Silver Charm defeated Swain by a nose in the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) and also won the San Fernando Breeders’ Cup (gr. II), Charles H. Strub Stakes (gr. II), Goodwood Breeders’ Cup Handicap (gr. II), Clark Handicap (gr. II), and dead-heated for first with Wild Rush in the Kentucky Cup Classic Handicap (gr. III). In the Breeder’s Cup Classic (gr. I), he was second to Awesome Again but defeated Skip Away.
Silver Charm was retired as a 5-year-old with 11 graded or group stakes victories. He stands at stud in Japan.
“I’m thrilled to pieces,” Beverly Lewis said. "There was something about Silver Charm that people took to. It had to be his personality, he’s a horse people just love. He was a great runner, he didn't want anyone to pass him, he was a fighter. I’m just so happy that he’s there where he belongs.”
Mom’s Command, bred and owned by Peter Fuller and primarily ridden by his daughter, Abby, was the champion 3-year-old filly of 1985. Trained by Edward Allard, the front-running filly won seven of nine starts that year, including the New York filly Triple Crown of the one-mile Acorn Stakes (gr. I), the 1 1/8-mile Mother Goose Stakes (gr. I), and the 1 1/2-mile Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I). After finishing second to Hall of Famer Lady’s Secret in the Test Stakes (gr. II), she defeated Fran’s Valentine in the Alabama Stakes (gr. I) in her final career start.
“Of course, I’m thrilled to have her elected to the Hall of Fame,” said Peter Fuller, 84. “I think she does deserve it, and I think the fact that my daughter rode her is one of those things that is just marvelous. It’s very helpful to racing, in particular. I have a fellow who teases me. He says, ‘You’re the only fellow who bred the horse and the jockey,’ which I think is pretty cute.”
Mom’s Command compiled a record of 11-2-1 in 16 starts, all in stakes, and earned $902,972. (Mom’s Command made her career debut a winning one in the Faneuil Miss Stakes at Rockingham Park in 1984.) She was euthanized Feb. 3 at the age of 25 at Fuller’s farm in New Hampshire.
Sellers, 69, was born in Los Angeles and raised in Oklahoma. He rode from 1955 through 1977. The peak of his career was the decade of the 1960s, when he finished in the top 10 nationally in purse money five times in a span of six years. He led the nation in victories (328) and was second in purses in 1961, the year he rode Carry Back to victories in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness.
During his career, Sellers won many of the major stakes in the country, including the Belmont, Alabama, Travers Stakes, Blue Grass, Kentucky Oaks, Florida Derby, Garden State States, United Nations Handicap, San Juan Capistrano, San Luis Obispo, San Felipe, Sunset, Hollywood Derby, Carter, Del Mar Invitational, and the Whitney Handicap.
Sellers was moved by the news of his election to the Hall of Fame. “I have tears in my eyes right now,” he said. “It's just absolutely fantastic, I never thought that much about being in the Hall of Fame, but being inducted is almost like winning the 'big one' for sure."
Sellers recalled being nominated in the Contemporary Jockey category in 1987.
“That was the year Walter Blum won, and he deservedly should have,” Sellers said. “That was as close as I got. It was very neat, just even to be nominated, but this is incredible.”
Sellers is a bloodstock agent who lives in Hallandale, Fla.
"I'm into the buying and selling in a couple little ventures," he said. "I was very fortunate in the good times I had in my career, and the racetrack is my office. The track is like one big happy family. Wherever you go in the world, they accept you, it's fantastic. It's in my blood, it's just wonderful."
Forrest, a native of Covington, Ky., rained from 1937 until his death in 1975 at the age of 69. He saw every Kentucky Derby from 1921 until his death and trained Derby and Preakness winners Kauai King in 1966 and Forward Pass in 1968.
During his career, Forrest trained for both Calumet Farm and Claiborne Farm. He finished in the top 10 nationally in races won in a season eight times, and twice was in the top 10 nationally in purse money won in a year. At the time of his death, Forrest held the career record for victories at Keeneland, with 153, and Churchill Downs, with 271.
Forward Pass finished second in the Derby but was declared the winner when Peter Fuller’s colt, Dancer’s Image, was disqualified for testing positive for a banned substance. In the Preakness, Forward Pass won by six lengths in a field that included Dancer’s Image. He then finished second in the Belmont Stakes and the Travers Stakes.
The colt also won the Florida Derby, the American Derby, the Hibiscus Stakes, the Everglades Stakes, and the Blue Grass Stakes, and was voted the champion 3-year-old in two polls.
“This is absolutely wonderful,” said Forrest’s daughter, Jennie Watkins. “His life was dedicated to racing. He was in the horse business his entire career and achieved what is the ultimate goal: to train a Kentucky Derby winner, and not one but two. It was his life. I think this is such a tribute to him and his memory this many years later to have such a wonderful thing happen.”
McCabe was a distinguished trainer in a career that spanned that later part of the 19th century and the early decades of the 20th century. He was born in Patterson, N.J., in 1859 and became an assistant to trainer James Rowe, who was a member of the first Hall of Fame class in 1955.
When Rowe ended his relationship with the Dwyer brothers, who were prominent owners at the time, in 1884, McCabe became their trainer. He trained Hall of Famer Hanover, winner of the Brooklyn Handicap, Belmont Stakes, Withers Stakes, and United States Hotel Stakes. McCabe trained three consecutive Belmont winners--Inspector B. in 1886, Hanover in 1887, and Sir Dixon in 1888.
During that same period, McCabe trained Tremont, who was unbeaten in 13 starts as a 2-year-old in 1886 and considered a champion.
McCabe’s other Hall of Fame horses were Kingston, a 1955 inductee who won 89 of 138 starts, including 30 stakes and retired as America’s leading money winner at $140,195; and Miss Woodruff, who was also handled by Rowe. Miss Woodruff, elected to the Hall of Fame in 1967, won the Ladies Stakes, Alabama Stakes, Monmouth Oaks, and Pimlico Stakes. She was the first horse bred and raced in America to earn more than $100,000.
McCabe, who died in 1924, also won the Travers with Inspector B., Sir Dixon, and Sir John.
Swoon’s Son was a top stakes horse but never a champion during a four-season career in the 1950s. Bred and owned by Kentuckian E. Gay Drake, a charter member of the Thoroughbred Club of America, Swoon’s Son won 30 of 51 starts. When he was retired to stud in 1958, he was the fourth-leading money-winner in the world at $907,605.
For most of his career, Swoon’s Son raced in the Midwest, primarily at tracks in Illinois and Kentucky. He was trained by Lex Wilson and ridden in all but one race by Dave Erb. Swoon’s Son won 22 stakes, including the Arlington Futurity and Bashford Manor Stakes at two; the American Derby, Arlington Classic Stakes, and Clark Handicap at three, and the Equipoise Mile Handicap at four and five.
Notable horses Swoon’s Son defeated were Preakness winner Fabius, Kentucky Derby winner Needles, Round Table, and Bardstown.
Drake’s grandson, Jack Jones, now operates the family’s Mineola Farm near Lexington, Ky., where Swoon’s Son was bred. Jones was a witness to Swoon’s Son’s success.
“I was eight, nine, 10 years old at the time, but I’ve got fond memories of his racing career, as well having been with Lex Wilson and Dave Erb,” Jones said. “I’m overjoyed with his election. I’m just sorry that my grandfather wasn’t alive to see this happen. I know it was his pride and joy and crowning achievement in all the years that he bred and raced horses along with his full brother Dogoon. They were running simultaneously during that period.”
E. Gay Drake died in 1974.