Hal Wiggins, who orchestrated the early part of the career of Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra (Medaglia d’Oro), has been named to the newly created position of Racing Integrity Officer at Oaklawn Park. Wiggins will serve as a liaison between track management, the Board of Stewards and key staff at the Arkansas Racing Commission.
“The Oaklawn family is excited to announce Hal Wiggins as our Integrity Officer, a newly created position designed just for an individual such as he, who has the knowledge, experience and respect of his fellow horsemen,” said Louis Cella, Oaklawn’s vice-president. “We strive to be forward thinking in all things racing and this is another example of our commitment to integrity.”
Arkansas Racing Commission Chairman and prominent Thoroughbred owner Alex Lieblong agrees.
“This sends an additional message that Oaklawn takes the integrity of the sport very seriously,” said Lieblong said. “I applaud them for creating this position and I applaud them for hiring Hal. I don’t think you could have asked for a better person. He’s been in racing a long time and knows when something doesn’t smell right. He also has a good way of communicating. If you can’t get along with Hal, then something else is wrong.”
Over a career that spanned 30 years, Wiggins also trained the likes of Morris Code, Chorwon and Leo’s Gypsy Dancer, but it was Rachel Alexandra, owed and bred by his longtime client Dolphus Morrison who gave Wiggins his crowning moment with her record-setting win in the 2009 GI Kentucky Oaks. She was subsequently sold to Stonestreet Stables and was trained by Steve Asmussen for the balance of her career.
“My hat is off to Oaklawn for creating this position,” Wiggins said. “The Oaklawn operation has a splendid national reputation and I’m honored to have the opportunity to be a part of it. This is a new position, and we’ll all be learning together. But I’m convinced we can make a difference, for the horsemen and the fan. I’m really looking forward to it.”