Jockey John Velazquez ranks third in career earnings (NMR photo)
Jockey John Velazquez and trainer Roger Attfield will receive their blazers and plaques and hear the applause Friday morning when the National Museum of Racing's 2012 Hall of Fame class is inducted during the annual ceremony at the Fasig-Tipton sales pavilion on East Avenue.
Roger Attfield (Woodbine photo)
Joining Velazquez and Attfield as contemporary inductees elected by Hall of Fame voters are the late trainer Robert Wheeler and the horse Ghostzapper. Jockey Anthony Hamilton and the horse Planet, stars of the 19th century, were elected by the Hall of Fame's Historic Review Committee.
The ceremony is free and open to the public. The inductions are also available through a live stream on the Museum’s web site at www.racingmuseum.org and www.fasigtipton.com. Radio coverage will be provided by Horse Racing Radio Network.
Tom Durkin, the track announcer for the New York Racing Association, will serve as the event’s master of ceremonies for the program, which begins at 10:30 a.m. Journalist Steven Crist was scheduled to be the guest speaker, but he had to cancel earlier this week following the death of his mother, the renowned movie critic Judith Crist.
Trainer Todd Pletcher will be the presenter for Velazquez and Canadian owner, breeder and racing executive David Willmot will present Attfield for his induction.
Velazquez, 40, ranks 32nd in career victories with 4,843 races and third in career earnings with over $268 million. A native of Puerto Rico, he began riding in the United States in 1990. He won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey in 2004 and 2005 and led all North American riders in earnings during those years. He led all New York jockeys in wins from 2001 through 2004 and set a record with 65 wins at Saratoga in 2004. Velazquez has won 22 riding titles at New York Racing Association tracks and has nine Breeders’ Cup wins. He posted 50 Grade 1 wins from 2006 through 2011.
In 2007, Velazquez won his first Triple Crown series race with the filly Rags to Riches in the Belmont Stakes. He won the Kentucky Derby in 2011 with Animal Kingdom and in June earned his second Belmont victory aboard Union Rags. His other major victories include the Travers, Alabama, Champagne, Sanford, Personal Ensign, Whitney, King’s Bishop, Hollywood Derby, and Kentucky Oaks.
An Englishman based in Canada, Attfield, 72, has saddled the winner of 1,745 races and has purse earnings of more than $90 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 and seven editions of the Canadian Breeders’ Stakes. He won his first Breeders’ Cup race in 2011 when Perfect Shirl took the Filly and Mare Turf. Attfield is a member of the Canadian Racing Hall of Fame. The many other stakes races he has won in the United States include the Wood Memorial, Flower Bowl, Shadwell Turf Mile, Maker’s Mark Mile, Elkhorn, Yellow Ribbon, Orchid, and Carter Handicap.
Hamilton was born in Charleston, S.C., in 1866 and won many of the most prestigious races of the 19th century. In 1890, Hamilton rode Potomac to victory in the third edition of the Futurity, which at the time was the richest race in American history with a purse of $67,675. That year, Hamilton led the nation in winning percentage (31.2). In 1891, he boosted his national-best win percentage to 33.8 and won 154 races to place second in the national standings.
In 1895, Hamilton won two of the most prominent races in the country by taking the Brooklyn Handicap on Hornpipe and the Suburban Handicap aboard Lazzarone. The next year, Hamilton added the third major New York handicap event, the Metropolitan Handicap, with Counter Tenor. Hamilton is the only African-American jockey to win all three of New York’s major handicap races. During this era, these races were generally considered to be more important than the likes of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes.
Wheeler, whose career spanned from 1938 through his death in 1992, won 1,336 races and trained for prominent owners such as C.V. Whitney, J. Rukin Jelks, Greentree Stable, and Nelson Bunker Hunt. He conditioned 56 stakes-winning horses, including 1982 Champion Older Female Track Robbery. The majority of his career predates the grading of races, but from 1976 on he won 18 of the 69 (26 percent) graded stakes his horses ran in and 44 of his 175 (25 percent) overall stakes attempts.
Ghostzapper (Awesome Again-Baby Zip, by Relaunch) won 9 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. Trained by Hall of Fame member Bobby Frankel, Ghostzapper won the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Classic in stakes-record time, covering the ?1¼-mile distance in 1:59.02. That year, he also won the Woodward Stakes, Tom Fool Handicap, and Iselin Handicap. At 3, Ghostzapper won the Vosburgh Stakes. He closed out his career with a victory in the Metropolitan Handicap at age 5. Ghostzapper raced for Frank Stronach and is currently a stallion at Stronach’s Adena Springs in Kentucky.
Foaled in Virginia at Maj. Thomas W. Doswell’s Bullfield Stable in 1855, Planet was sired by Revenue out of the Boston mare Nina. Planet was a sensation from the start. He made his debut with a victory over four others in mile heats for a purse of $10,750 in Fairfield, Va., on May 4, 1858, and went on to establish a record for career purse earnings that stood for 20 years. Planet displayed his remarkable skill and versatility by compiling a record of 27-4-0 from 31 starts and earning $69,700. Known as “The Great Red Fox,” Planet was regarded by many turf experts to be second only to the mighty Lexington among the greatest American racehorses prior to the Civil War.