Hall of Fame announces 2015 inductees

King Leatherbury (courtesy of the Maryland Jockey Club)

King Leatherbury (courtesy of the Maryland Jockey Club)

Jockey Chris Antley, trainer King Leatherbury and the racehorses Lava Man and Xtra Heat have been elected to the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in the contemporary category. The electees will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Friday, Aug. 7 at 10:30 a.m. at the Fasig-Tipton sales pavilion.

Antley, who was born in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and grew up in Elloree, S.C., won 3,480 races and had purse earnings of $92,261,894 in a career that spanned from 1983 until his death in 2000 at the age of 34. Antley rode his first winner, Vaya Con Dinero, at Pimlico in November 1983. 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 winner, taking the Run for the Roses with Strike the Gold in 1991 and Charismatic in 1999. He also won the Preakness Stakes with Charismatic. Antley ranked in the top 10 nationally in wins each year from 1984 through 1987 and was the leading rider at Monmouth Park in 1984, 1985 and 1986. He led the New York circuit with 234 wins in 1989 and was the leading rider at Saratoga in 1990.

Other major victories for Antley included the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Woodward, Santa Anita Handicap, Hollywood Derby, Alabama, Wood Memorial, Manhattan Handicap, Carter Handicap, Louisiana Derby, Blue Grass, Coaching Club American Oaks and Jerome Handicap. On Oct. 31, 1987, Antley won nine races when he had four victories at Aqueduct and five at the Meadowlands. He also had a streak of 64 consecutive days with at least one win in 1989.

Leatherbury, 82, who was born in Baltimore, won his first race at Florida’s Sunshine Park (now Tampa Bay Downs) in 1959 and currently ranks fourth all time with 6,454 wins. He has won 52 training titles in Maryland (26 each at Pimlico and Laurel) and four at Delaware Park with career purse earnings of $62,910,371. Leatherbury led all North American trainers in wins in 1977 and 1978 and won 300 or more races each year from 1975 through 1978. He ranked in the top three in North American wins each year from 1975 through 1980 and has finished in the top 10 nationally in wins 18 times and in earnings four times. Leatherbury has won 23 graded stakes races and 153 overall stakes.

In 1987, Leatherbury won the Grade 1 Hempstead Handicap with Catatonic and in 1994 he won the Grade 1 Philip H. Iselin Handicap with Taking Risks. Leatherbury also bred, owns and trains Ben’s Cat, a winner of $2.3 million. Ben’s Cat has won 22 stakes to date, including four graded events. Other top winners trained by Leatherbury include Ah Day (winner of 10 stakes) and Thirty Eight Paces (winner of six stakes). Leatherbury’s graded wins include multiple editions of the Parx Dash, Turf Monster Handicap, Laurel Turf Cup and John B. Campbell Handicap. He has also won the Toboggan, Gardenia, Tempted, Woodlawn and Allegheny stakes, as well as the Snow Goose, Betsy Ross, Assault and Roseben handicaps.

Lava Man (Slew City Slew—L’il Ms. Leonard, by Nostalgia’s Star) was bred in California by Lonnie Arterburn, Eve Kuhlmann and Kim Kuhlmann. Arterburn trained Lava Man until he was claimed during his 3-year-old season for $50,000 by trainer Doug O’Neill for STD Racing Stable and partner Jason Wood.

A winner of seven Grade 1 races — more than any other California-bred in history — Lava Man posted a career record of 17-8-5 from 47 starts with earnings of $5,268,706. Among California-bred horses, only Hall of Famers Tiznow and Best Pal and 2014 Horse of the Year California Chrome have higher career earnings. Lava Man won three consecutive editions of the Hollywood Gold Cup (2005 through 2007), matching a feat Hall of Famer Native Diver accomplished from 1965 through 1967. Lava Man also won back-to-back runnings of the Santa Anita Handicap in 2006 and 2007.

Lava Man’s other significant wins included the Pacific Classic, Californian, Sunshine Millions Classic, Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap, Goodwood Breeders’ Cup Handicap and Sunshine Millions Turf. In his first Hollywood Gold Cup victory, Lava Man won by a record eight lengths and earned a 120 Beyer Speed Figure. With his victory in the Whittingham in 2006, Lava Man became the first horse since Vanlandingham 21 years earlier to win a Grade 1 on both dirt and turf in the same year. Lava Man was also the first horse to win the Hollywood Gold Cup, Santa Anita Handicap and Pacific Classic in the same year (a feat since equaled by Game On Dude).

Xtra Heat (Dixieland Heat—Begin, by Hatchet Man) was bred in Kentucky by Pope McLean’s Crestwood Farm and sold as a 2-year-old for $5,000 at Maryland’s Timonium sale to trainer John Salzman, Sr. and partners Ken Taylor and Harry Deitchman.

The Eclipse Award winner for Champion 3-Year-Old Filly in 2001, Xtra Heat compiled a career record of 26-5-2 from 35 starts and earnings of $2,389,635. Xtra Heat won a total of 25 stakes races, 11 of which were graded events. She registered two six-race win streaks and had two victories in the Barbara Fritchie Handicap and Endine Stakes. Xtra Heat’s wins included the Grade 1 Prioress (setting a stakes record of 1:08.26), as well as the Vagrancy and Genuine Risk handicaps and the Astarita and Beaumont stakes.

The contemporary electees were chosen from a nationwide voting panel comprised of 180 racing writers, broadcasters, industry officials and historians from a group of 10 finalists selected by the Hall of Fame’s Nominating Committee. The top four vote-getters among the finalists are elected.

Results of the Hall of Fame’s Historic Review and Pillars of the Turf committees will be announced in May.


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Hall of Famer Alex Solis earns 5,000th career victory


Alex Solis (courtesy of The Blood-Horse)

Alex Solis (courtesy of The Blood-Horse)

Alex Solis, who was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 2014, earned his 5,000th career victory Jan. 1 at Santa Anita.


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Steeplechase legend Joe Aitcheson dead at 85

Joe Aitcheson aboard Tuscalee at Delaware Park in 1967 (Delaware Park photo)

Joe Aitcheson aboard Tuscalee at Delaware Park in 1967 (Delaware Park photo)

Joe Aitcheson, the all-time leader in steeplechase wins by a jockey and a 1978 Hall of Fame inductee, died Saturday at Carroll Hospice Dove House in Westminster, Md. He was 85.

The native Marylander won a record 440 American jump races. He won seven seasonal championships and rode at or near the top of the game from 1956 through 1979. He partnered with fellow Hall of Fame member Mikey Smithwick to win some of the sport’s most important races and guided such standout horses as Top Bid, Soothsayer and Tuscalee to major wins. Other top mounts included champions Bon Nouvel, Amber Diver and Peal.

Aitcheson won the Virginia Gold Cup a record eight times and won the Carolina Cup seven times. He was America’s leading jump jockey in 1961, 1963, 1964 and 1967 through 1970. He won a record 40 races in 1964 and topped 35 on three other occasions. In 1963, he rode 181 races, easily the highest total in history.

Pimlico Race Course held a steeplechase named for Aitcheson for several years and he presented the trophy. In 1976, the National Steeplechase Association presented Aitcheson with its highest honor, the F. Ambrose Clark Award.

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Lloyd Hughes, Clifford elected to Racing Hall of Fame

Lloyd Hughes

Lloyd Hughes

Lloyd Hughes, the first jockey to win the Preakness Stakes three times, and Clifford, an elite racehorse of the 1890s, have been elected to the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame by the Museum’s Historic Review Committee.

Hughes and Clifford will be inducted along with contemporary selections Ashado, Curlin, Gary Jones and Alex Solis at the Fasig-Tipton sales pavilion Aug. 8. The ceremony begins at 10:30 a.m. It is open to the public and free to attend.

Hughes was born in Wales, United Kingdom, in 1857. He made his riding debut in the United States in 1872 at Monmouth Park and quickly rose to stardom by winning the Preakness Stakes in 1875, 1879 and 1880, becoming the first three-time winner of the event. He also won the Belmont Stakes (1878, 1880) and Travers Stakes (1878, 1880) twice each, the Jerome Handicap (1878, 1879, 1880) and Saratoga Stakes (1878, 1879, 1883) three times each and four consecutive runnings of the Dixie Handicap (1878, 1879, 1880, 1881), among others.

Some of the notable horses Hughes rode included Hall of Famer Duke of Magenta, the undefeated Sensation, Tom Ochiltree, Spinaway, Harold, Grenada, Crickmore, Danger, Monitor, Oriole, Blazes, Idler, Balance All, and Ferida. He rode for many of the top owners in the sport, including George Lorillard, Leonard Jerome, Milton Sanford, J. F. Chamberlain, J. E. Kelly and Maryland Gov. Oden Bowie.

Along with becoming the first rider to win the Preakness Stakes three times (only Hall of Famers Eddie Arcaro and Pat Day have won the Preakness more times), Hughes became the first jockey to win the Dixie Handicap four times (he remains the only one to win it four consecutive years), and the first to win the Jerome Handicap three consecutive years (Hall of Famers Angel Cordero, Jr. and Jerry Bailey are the other riders who have since accomplished the feat). Hughes also won the Alabama, Manhattan Handicap, Fordham Handicap (3), Monmouth Oaks (2), Flash (2), Long Island Derby, Falls City Handicap, Hunter Handicap, Juvenile (2), Nursery (2), Sequel, Kenner, Harding, Tennessee, Misses, Surf, West End (2), and Peyton Handicap (2), among others.

Hughes was described by the famous turf writer Walter Vosburgh as “one of the most successful jockeys in the great stakes races” and “the most expert rider of two-year-olds in America. Hughes has justly earned a reputation as a rider of two-year-olds second to no jockey in America. He is by long odds the quickest to get away with the flag and has not been inaptly termed ‘the lightning starter.’ But Hughes is almost as good a finisher as he is a starter; he is cool, shrewd, cunning and deliberate, and has excellent hands. His success in the great stake races has been enormous.” Hughes died in New York in 1925.

Clifford (Bramble—Duchess, by Kingfisher) was foaled in Tennessee at W. H. Jackson’s Belle Meade Stud in 1890. He raced from 1892 through 1897, compiling a record of 42-10-8 from 62 starts and purse earnings of $65,143.

Clifford was owned by Clifford Porter (who named him) and later Eugene Leigh and Robert L. Rose. He was trained by Charles H. Hughes, Leigh and Hall of Famer John W. Rogers. Clifford made his debut in September 1892 and won the only start he made that year as a 2-year-old. In his first start at age 3, Clifford was left at the post and finished out of the money. That race was notable because it was the only time in 24 starts that year — and one of only two times in his 62-race career — in which Clifford was out of the money. Clifford finished 18-1-4 in 24 starts as a 3-year-old, including 11 wins in a row (all during a five-week period at Hawthorne Park). He carried as much as 133 pounds during the win streak, which was snapped when he was forced to carry 140 pounds, giving the winner 36 pounds, when he finished third in the Austin Handicap.

Among Clifford’s wins as a 3-year-old were the Phoenix Handicap, Latonia Spring Prize, Melrose Handicap, Forest Handicap, and Special Sweepstakes. In the Special Sweepstakes, Clifford defeated the great mare Yo Tambien by eight lengths and Lamplighter, a top handicapper, by 11 lengths. It was Clifford’s 18th and final victory of the season.

At 4, Clifford went 10-4-1 in 16 starts. Early in the year, he defeated Yo Tambien again, this time in the Montgomery Stakes. Clifford then won four consecutive stakes: the Albany, Sea Foam, Flight, and Moet and Chandon. In the fall of 1894, Clifford defeated Hall of Famer Henry of Navarre in the Second Special at Gravesend. Henry of Navarre entered the race with 10 wins in a row, including the Belmont and Travers. Clifford won his first four races at age 5 and finished the year 7-2-1 in 10 starts. His wins that year included the Club Members’ Handicap, Kearney Stakes, Omnium Handicap, Oriental Handicap and another victory in the Second Special. At 6, Clifford won the Memorial Handicap and the Flight Stakes. As a 7-year-old in his final season during 1897, Clifford won the Long Island Handicap. He carried top weight in the race and defeated Hall of Famer Ben Brush, a 4-year-old at the time. That year, he also dead-heated with Hastings (the 1896 Belmont winner) in the Kearney Stakes.

Clifford pulled up sore after finishing third in the Omnium Handicap in September 1897 and was retired. He was purchased for $7,000 by John Sanford for stud duty and sent to Sanford’s Hurricana Farm in Amsterdam, N.Y., where he produced some nice horses, including Molly Brant, Hill Top, Kennyetto, Cliff Edge, Sea Cliff, and Blackford.

Clifford died at age 27 in 1917 at Hurricana Farm. In his 1970 book “The Great Ones,” Kent Hollingsworth compiled a list of retrospective champions based on extensive contemporary opinions and recognized Clifford as the co-champion 3-year-old male of 1893 and the co-champion handicap horse of 1894. The New York Times described Clifford as “one of the most brilliant performers the American turf has ever known.”

The Hall of Fame’s Historic Review Committee is comprised of chairman Edward L. Bowen and racing historians Michael Veitch, Al Carter, Jay Hovdey, Ken Grayson, Gary West, John von Stade, Jane Goldstein, Bill Mooney, Bill Nack, Steve Haskin, and Mary Simon. From an initial candidate pool featuring nominations by those in the racing industry, historians and members of the public, the Historic Review Committee selects a maximum of three finalists to be considered for election to the Hall of Fame. The candidates that become finalists are required to receive 75 percent approval from the Historic Review Committee to gain election to the Hall of Fame.

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Ashado, Curlin, Jones and Solis elected to Hall of Fame

Alex Solis (courtesy of The Blood-Horse)

Alex Solis (Blood-Horse photo)


Curlin (NYRA photo)

Gary Jones (Benoit photo)

ashado spinaway9

Ashado (NYRA photo)

Jockey Alex Solis, trainer Gary Jones and champion racehorses Ashado and Curlin have been elected to the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in the contemporary category. The electees will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Friday, Aug. 8 at 10:30 a.m. at the Fasig-Tipton sales pavilion.

Solis, 50, who is closing in on 5,000 career victories (he has 4,986 through Thursday), ranks ninth all time in purse earnings with $234,981,821 and 30th in wins. In a career that began in 1982, Solis, a native of Panama City, Panama, has won 321 graded stakes and 633 overall stakes. He has won three Breeders’ Cup races, including the 2003 Classic with Pleasantly Perfect. Solis won the 1986 Preakness, as well as seven other graded stakes, with champion Snow Chief.

Major victories for Solis include multiple editions of the Santa Anita Derby, Florida Derby, Hollywood Derby, Norfolk, Hollywood Futurity, Santa Monica Handicap, Hollywood Turf Cup, Yellow Ribbon, Charles Whittingham Handicap, Eddie Read Handicap and Shoemaker Mile, among others. He has also won the Dubai World Cup, Pacific Classic, Santa Anita Handicap, Haskell Invitational, Secretariat, Manhattan Handicap, Jockey Club Gold Cup and Carter Handicap, among others.

The winner of 18 riding titles on the Southern California circuit, Solis won the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 1997. He won 11 stakes races with champion Kona Gold, including the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Other notable mounts for Solis include Criminal Type, Bertrando, Jewel Princess, Timber Country, The Wicked North, Pleasant Tap, Victory Gallop, Megahertz, Dare and Go, Brother Derek, After Market, Flat Out and Magical Fantasy.

Jones, 69, 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. A native of Long Beach, Calif., Jones trained 104 stakes-winning horses, including Turkoman, the 1986 Champion Older Male. Jones won 15 meet titles on the Southern California circuit, including four at Santa Anita, where he ranks sixth all time in wins (576) and seventh in stakes victories (72). He set a record with 47 wins at Santa Anita in 1976, surpassing the previous standard of 44 established by his father, Farrell Jones. At Hollywood Park, Jones ranks 13th all time in wins (463) and 10th in stakes victories (58). He also won 17 stakes at Del Mar, including the inaugural Pacific Classic with Hall of Famer Best Pal in 1991.

Jones guided Turkoman to victories in the Marlboro Cup, Widener Handicap and Oaklawn Handicap in his 1986 championship season. Jones twice won the signature handicap in California, the Santa Anita Handicap, with Best Pal and Stuka. Along with the Pacific Classic and Santa Anita Handicap, Jones trained Best Pal to wins in the Oaklawn Handicap, Hollywood Gold Cup, Swaps Stakes and Strub Stakes.

Jones trained Kostrama to a world turf record of 1:43 4/5 in the 1 1/8-mile Las Palmas Handicap at Santa Anita, sent out Time to Explode to equal a world record of 1:19 2/5 at Hollywood and conditioned Beautiful Glass to a five-furlong track mark of :55 4.5 at Hollywood. Other major victories for Jones include the Mother Goose, Santa Barbara Handicap, Hollywood Oaks, Del Mar Futurity, Hollywood Futurity, Yellow Ribbon, Apple Blossom Handicap, San Antonio Handicap, La Brea, San Felipe, Santa Anita Oaks, NYRA Mile, Milady Handicap, Fantasy, Californian and Norfolk, among others. Other notable horses trained by Jones include Quiet American, Wishing Well, Lakeway, By Land by Sea, Fali Time, Radar Ahead, Eleven Stitches and Lightning Mandate.

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, Schuylerville and Demoiselle as a 2-year-old in 2003. She compiled a record of 4-1-1 and earnings of $610,800 in six starts that year. At 3, she won the Kentucky Oaks, Breeders’ Cup Distaff, Coaching Club American Oaks, Fair Grounds Oaks and Cotillion Handicap en route to a ledger of 5-2-1 and earnings of $2,259,640 in eight starts that year. In her final season, at age 4 in 2005, Ashado won the Go for Wand Handicap, Ogden Phipps Handicap and Beldame. She finished 3-1-1 with earnings of $1,061,000 in seven starts that year.

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 Hall of Fame member Cigar.

Curlin, who was trained for the majority of his career by Steve Asmussen, did not race as a 2-year-old. As a 3-year-old in 2007, Curlin won the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Jockey Club Gold Cup, Preakness, Arkansas Derby and Rebel to be named Horse of the Year and Champion 3-Year-Old Male. He finished 6-1-2 with earnings of $5,102,800 from nine starts that year. At 4, Curlin was once again Horse of the Year and added Champion Older Male honors. He won the Dubai World Cup, Stephen Foster, Woodward and his second Jockey Club Gold Cup in 2008, compiling a mark of 5-1-0 and earnings of $5,399,000 in seven starts. Overall, he won nine graded/group stakes, including seven Grade/Group 1s.

The contemporary electees were chosen from a nationwide voting panel comprised of 185 racing writers, broadcasters, industry officials and historians from a group of nine finalists selected by the Hall of Fame’s Nominating Committee.

Results of the Hall of Fame’s Historic Review process, which examines candidates who have not been active within the past 25 years, will be announced in May. Results of the Pillars of the Turf election process, which honors individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to Thoroughbred racing in a leadership or pioneering capacity at the highest national level, will be announced in June.

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Flatterer, oldest Hall of Fame horse, dead at 35


Flatterer, a four-time Eclipse Award winner for Outstanding Steeplechase Horse and a 1994 Racing Hall of Fame inductee, was euthanized April 24 at owner Bill Pape’s My Way Farm in Pennsylvania.

Flatterer compiled a record of 24-8-5 from 52 career starts with earnings of $534,854. Bred in Pennsylvania by Pape and trained by Hall of Famer Jonathan Sheppard, Flatterer was a four-time winner of the Colonial Cup. In all, he won 13 steeplechase stakes, including the Iroquois, National Hunt Cup and Temple Gwathmey.

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Velazquez surpasses $300 million in career earnings

John Velazquez (NYRA photo)

John Velazquez (NYRA photo)

Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez became the first rider in North American history to surpass $300 million in career earnings this past weekend. Velazquez, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012, has $300,432,663 in earnings in North American races and 5,112 wins.




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