2023 Hall of Fame Finalists Announced

North America’s richest horse Arrogate (Unbridled’s Song) is among the nine equine finalists for the 2023 National Museum of Racing’s 2023 Hall of Fame class. Additionally, six trainers and one jockey account for the 16 total individuals f who will make up the ballot, which will be chosen by the Museum’s Hall of Fame Nominating Committee.

The other finalists are Blind Luck (Pollard’s Vision), California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit), Game On Dude (Awesome Again), Havre de Grace (Saint Liam), Kona Gold (Java Gold), Lady Eli (Divine Park), Rags to Riches (A.P. Indy), and Songbird (Medaglia d’Oro); trainers Christophe Clement, Kiaran McLaughlin, Graham Motion, Doug O’Neill, John Sadler, and John Shirreffs; and jockey Corey Nakatani.

Hall of Fame voters may select as many or as few candidates as they believe are worthy of induction to the Hall of Fame. All candidates that receive 50 percent plus one vote (majority approval) from the voting panel will be elected to the Hall of Fame. All of the finalists were required to receive support from two-thirds of the 15-member Nominating Committee to qualify for the ballot. Ballots will be mailed to the Hall of Fame voting panel this week and the results of the voting on the contemporary candidates will be announced on Tuesday, Apr. 25. That announcement will also include this year’s selections by the Museum’s Historic Review and Pillars of the Turf committees.

To be eligible for the Hall of Fame, trainers must be licensed for 25 years, while jockeys must be licensed for 20 years. Thoroughbreds are required to be retired for five calendar years. All candidates must have been active within the past 25 years. The 20- and 25-year requirements for jockeys and trainers, respectively, may be waived at the discretion of the Museum’s Executive Committee. Candidates not active within the past 25 years are eligible through the Historic Review process.

The late Arrogate, whose bankroll of $17,422,600 ranks him as North America’s wealthiest racehorse of all time, won the Eclipse Award for 3-Year-Old Male in 2016 and holds the North American record for highest career earnings with $17,422,600. Overall the gray Juddmonte Farms homebred won four Grade/Group I races in the care of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. He was unraced as a 2-year-old and broke his maiden in his second career start in 2016 and in his first stakes appearance set a track record of 1:59.36 when winning the GI Travers S. by 13 1/2 lengths, the only time in Saratoga history a horse has gone 10 furlongs on the dirt in less than two minutes. He also won the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita and set a Gulfstream Park dirt record of 1:46.83 in the 1/8-mile GI Pegasus World Cup in his 4-year-old debut. He then captured the GI Dubai World Cup to become the all-time earnings leader. Arrogate was retired with a record of 7-1-1 from 11 starts. This is his first year of eligibility for the Hall of Fame.

Blind Luck won the Eclipse Award for champion 3-year-old filly in 2010. Trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer and co-owned by Hollendorfer in partnership with Mark DeDomenico LLC, John Carver, and Peter Abruzzo, Blind Luck earned $3,279,520 from a career line of of 22-12-7-2 and earnings racing from 2009 through 2011. She won a total of 10 graded stakes, including six Grade Is: the Kentucky Oaks, Oak Leaf S., Hollywood Starlet S., Las Virgenes S., Alabama S., and Vanity H.

Havre de Grace won the Eclipse Awards for Horse of the Year and champion older female in 2011. She was trained Anthony Dutrow at ages 2 and 3 and by Larry Jones thereafter. She was campaigned by Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farms throughout her career. She was second to champion and fellow finalist Blind Luck in the GII Delaware Oaks and Alabama S. in 2010 and earned her first graded stakes victory later that year in the GII Cotillion. In her 2011 Horse of the Year campaign, she beat Blind Luck in the GIII Azeri and went on to win Grade Is in the Apple Blossom, Woodward against the boys and Beldame. She made one start as a 5-year-old in 2012 to win the listed New Orleans Ladies’ S. and was retired with a career record of 16-9-4-2 and earnings of $2,586,175.

Kona Gold won the Eclipse Award as champion sprinter in 2000 and set a six-furlong track record at Churchill Downs when he won the GI Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Campaigned by the partnership of trainer Bruce Headley, Irwin and Andrew Molasky, Michael Singh, et al, Kona Gold raced from 1998 through 2003 with a record of 30-14-7-2 and earnings of $2,293,384. He set a track record for 5 1/2 furlongs at Santa Anita and won a total of 10 graded stakes, including the Grade I San Carlos H. He retired in 2003 and served as Headley’s stable pony for a few years before being sent to the Kentucky Horse Park’s Hall of Champions until he died in 2009.

Rags to Riches won the Eclipse Award for champion 3-year-old filly in 2007, a campaign highlighted by an historic victory in the GI Belmont S. She was trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher for owners Michael B. Tabor and Derrick Smith and broke her maiden in her second career start at Santa Anita to begin a five-race win streak, including four Grade 1s–Las Virgenes S., Santa Anita Oaks, Kentucky Oaks and the Belmont, where she defeated two-time Horse of the Year Curlin. She retired with a record of 7-5-1-0 and earnings of $1,342,528.

California Chrome won Eclipse Awards for Horse of the Year in 2014 and 2016, as well as champion 3-Year-Old Male in 2014 and champion Older Male in 2016. Trained by Art Sherman for Perry Martin and Steve Coburn, and later Taylor Made Farm, California Chrome won a total of 10 graded/group stakes including the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Santa Anita Derby, and Hollywood Derby in his first Horse of the Year campaign in 2014. In 2016, he surpassed Hall of Famer Curlin for the North American earnings record, which was subsequently broken by Arrogate. Overall, California Chrome won at seven different tracks retired with a career line of 27-16-4-1, $14,752,650. is his first year of eligibility for the Hall of Fame and after a few years at stud in Kentucky, stands at Arrow Stud in Japan.

Game On Dude won 14 graded stakes over his five-year career from 2010 to 2014, including eight Grade Is., he compiled a record. He was owned by the partnership of Joe Torre’s Diamond Pride LLC, Lanni Family Trust, Mercedes Stable LLC, and Bernie Schiappa and trained by Baffert. He is the only horse to win the Santa Anita Handicap three times (2011, 2013, 2014), setting a stakes record in the 2014 edition by covering 1 1/4 miles in 1:58.17. Game On Dude also won the GI Hollywood Gold Cup and GII San Antonio Stakes twice each, as well as single editions of the GI Pacific Classic, GII Californian S., GII Charles Town Classic, GIII Lone Star Derby, and GIII Native Diver S. In 2013, Game On Dude swept the three signature Grade 1 races for older horses in California–the Santa Anita Handicap, Hollywood Gold Cup, and Pacific Classic — becoming only the second horse to win those three events in a single year, joining Hall of Famer Lava Man. He retired with a career line of 34- 16-7-1 and earnings of $6,498,893. He is currently a resident at Old Friends in Kentucky.

Lady Eli, who was trained by Eclipse Award winner Chad Brown, won the 2017 Eclipse Award for Champion Turf Female. She won her first six starts, including Grade I victories in the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and 2015 Belmont Oaks. And after suriving a year-long battle with she returned in 2016 to win the GI Flower Bowl and finish second in the GI Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf. She retired with a record of 14-10-3-0 from 14 starts with earnings of $2,959,800. This is her first year of eligibility for the Hall of Fame.

Songbird won Eclipse Awards for champion 2-Year-Old Filly in 2015 and champion 3-Year-Old Filly in 2016. Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer for Fox Hill Farms, Songbird won the first 11 races of her career, including Grade I victories in the Del Mar Debutante, Chandelier, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, Santa Anita Oaks, Coaching Club American Oaks, Alabama, and Cotillion. As a 4-year-old she also won consecutive Grade Is in the Ogden Phipps and Delaware Handicap. Overall, Songbird posted a record of 13-2-0 from 15 starts and earned $4,692,000. This is her first year of eligibility for the Hall of Fame.

Clement, 57, has won 2,334 races to date with purse earnings of more than $159 million in a career that began in 1991. The French-born Clement trained three-time Eclipse Award winner Gio Ponti, as well as 2014 GI Belmont S. winner Tonalist. Clement has won 262 graded stakes and his first Breeders’ Cup race in 2021 when Pizza Bianca captured the GI Juvenile Fillies Turf.

Motion, 58, is making his second appearance on the Hall of Fame ballot, has won 2,638 races to date with purse earnings of more than $143 million in a career that began in 1993. He won the Kentucky Derby and G1 Dubai World Cup with champion Animal Kingdom, trained two-time Eclipse Award winner Main Sequence and has won four Breeders’ Cup races. Main Sequence accounted for one of those Breeders’ Cup wins, as did Better Talk Now, Shared Account and her daughter Sharing. A native of Cambridge, England, Motion has won 192 graded stakes. He has trained 11 horses that have earned $1 million or more, including Miss Temple City, who defeated males in both the Shadwell Turf Mile and Maker’s 46 Mile. Motion has won training titles at Keeneland and Pimlico and ranks fourth all time with 37 stakes wins at Keeneland.

O’Neill, 54, has won 2,6762 races to date with purse earnings of more than $153 million in a career that began in 1988. He won the Kentucky Derby and GI Preakness in 2012 with I’ll Have Another and a second Derby in 2016 with Nyquist. O’Neill has trained five Eclipse Award winners–I’ll Have Another, Maryfield, Nyquist, Stevie Wonderboy, and Thor’s Echo–and has won five Breeders’ Cup races. A native of Dearborn, Mich., O’Neill won nine graded stakes with Hall of Fame member Lava Man. O’Neill has won five training titles at Del Mar, where in 2015 he became the first trainer to win five races on a card there. He has also won four training titles at Santa Anita, including a record 56-win meet in the winter of 2006-2007, and ranks third all time there with 971 wins.

Shirreffs, 77, has won 565 races, including 107 graded events, with purse earnings of $51.9 million. He is best known for training Hall of Famer Zenyatta, a four-time Eclipse Award winner with 19 consecutive victories, i3cluding 13 Grade Is. Shirreffs won the 2005 Kentucky Derby with Giacomo at odds of 50-1.

McLaughlin, 62, who is making his first appearance on the Hall of Fame ballot, won 1,809 races with purse earnings of $130,031,267 (including international statistics) from 1995 through 2021. He ranks 20th all time in North American earnings and has saddled 179 graded/group stakes winners, inclduding, three in the Breeders’ Cup races–2006 Classic (Invasor), 2007 Filly and Mare Turf (Lahudood), and the 2016 Dirt Mile (Tamarkuz). He won the 2006 Belmont Stakes with Jazil.

Sadler, 66, who is appearing on the ballot for the first time, has won 2,728 races with purse earnings of more than $145 million (15 th all time) in a career that began in 1978. He has won 188 graded stakes, including the Breeders’ Cup Classic with Eclipse Award winner Accelerate in 2018 and Horse of the Year Flightline in 2022. He also trained champion Stellar Wind and has conditioned 10 horses that have earned $1 million or more–Accelerate, Flightline, Stellar Wind, Switch, Higher Power, Catapult, Flagstaff, Hard Aces, Healthy Addiction, and Iotapa. Sadler ranks No. 2 all time at Del Mar in both wins (532) and stakes wins (85). At Santa Anita, he ranks second all time in wins (1,046) and seventh in stakes wins (82).
Nakatani, 52, won 3,909 races with purse earnings of $234,554,534 million in a career that spanned from 1988 to 2018. He ranks 14th all time in career earnings and won 341 graded stakes. Nakatani won 10 Breeders’ Cup races (one of only 10 riders to do so), including four editions of the Sprint. He won three riding titles at Del Mar, two at Santa Anita and one at Hollywood Park, as well as four Oak Tree meetings.

Nakatani won a record 19 stakes during the 2006-2007 Santa Anita meet, breaking the track’s previous single-meet record held by Hall of Famer Laffit Pincay, Jr. He ranks eighth all time in stakes wins at Santa Anita with 134 and ninth in overall wins at there with 1,075. He also stands second all time at Del Mar with 108 stakes wins and sixth in overall wins with 705.

Chaired by Edward L. Bowen, the Hall of Fame Nominating Committee is comprised of Bowen, Caton Bredar, Steven Crist, Tom Durkin, Bob Ehalt, Tracy Gantz, Teresa Genaro, Jane Goldstein, Steve Haskin, Jay Hovdey, Alicia Hughes, Tom Law, Jay Privman, Michael Veitch, and Charlotte Weber.

The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place on Friday, Aug. 4, at the Fasig-Tipton Sales Pavilion in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., at 10:30 a.m. The ceremony is open to the public and free to attend.

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