Velazquez, Ghostzapper inducted into Racing Hall of Fame
Saratoga Springs, NY (Sports Network) - The 2012 Racing Hall of Fame class was inducted Friday morning featuring Eclipse Award-winning jockey John Velazquez and former Horse of the Year Ghostzapper.
Joining those two in this year's National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame class were trainers Roger Attfield and Robert Wheeler along with a pair of 19th century luminaries, racehorse Planet and jockey Anthony Hamilton. Planet and Hamilton were selected by the Historic Review Committee of the Museum.
Velazquez, who was under consideration last year, was voted champion jockey in 2004 and 2005. He has earned more than $263 million during his riding career, which includes over 4,800 wins and 733 stakes. Last year, he rode Animal Kingdom to victory in the Kentucky Derby, guided the filly Rags to Riches in winning the 2007 Belmont Stakes and won this year's Belmont Stakes aboard Union Rags.
"There are so many people to be thanked," said an emotional Velazquez after being introduced by trainer Todd Pletcher. "The highest honor that you can have in horse racing, obviously having a lot of people behind me. Todd was my number one supporter for many, many years."
Ghostzapper was named Horse of the Year for 2004 after winning all four starts. Included in those four wins was the Breeders' Cup Classic in a stakes- record time of 1:59.02. Trained by Hall of Fame member Bobby Frankel, the colt also won the Woodward Stakes, Tom Fool Handicap, and Iselin Handicap during his championship season. He retired with nine wins in 11 starts for $3,446,120.
Based in Canada, Attfield has been a member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame since 1999. He has saddled winners of more than 1,700 races for better than $88 million. Voted Canada's champion trainer eight times, Attfield has won that country's premier stakes, the Queen's Plate, eight times and saddled Perfect Shirl to victory in last year's Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf.
"This is a very, very special moment for me and a great honor," Attfield said. "Just so happy to be here among so many good friends. The only thing that can make it possible for someone like myself to be here is all the people that worked along with me for years."
Wheeler trained from 1938 to 1992 and won 1,336 races. Training for owners such as C.V. Whitney and Nelson Bunker Hunt, Wheeler won the Santa Anita Derby, Blue Grass Stakes and in 1982 Track Robbery was voted champion older female.
"The statistics stand on their own," said Wheeler's grandson, Jeff. "That man was devoted to what he did."
Planet won 27 of 31 career starts before being retired in 1861 as a six-year- old.
Hamilton was a native of Charleston, S.C., born the year after the end of the Civil War. He became the only black rider to win the Brooklyn, Suburban and Metropolitan Handicaps. In 1889 Hamilton finished second in the Belmont Stakes aboard 4-5 favorite Diablo, losing by a head to Eric in a three-horse field.
08/10 12:11:18 ET