Monday, April 23, 2012
John Velazquez, Ghostzapper to Hall
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- Jockey John Velazquez can add Hall of Famer to a resume that includes wins in thoroughbred racing's biggest events and two years as the nation's top rider.
Velazquez, along with 2004 Horse of the Year Ghostzapper and trainers Roger Attfield and Robert Wheeler were elected to the National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame on Monday.
Velazquez has won 4,803 races, including 733 stakes and earned more than $263 million since he piloted Rodas to the winner's circle at El Comandante in 1990. He was the nation's top rider in 2004 and 2005 and has dominated the New York circuit, leading all riders in wins from 2001 through 2004 and taking 22 riding titles at the state's three tracks, including a record 65-win season at Saratoga Race Course in 2004.
The 40-year-old Velazquez, a native of Puerto Rico, won last year's Kentucky Derby aboard Animal Kingdom and took the 2007 Belmont Stakes with Rags to Riches. He also has nine Breeders' Cup wins and has notched other Grade 1 victories in the Travers and Kentucky Oaks, among others.
Ghostzapper won nine of 11 career starts and earned more than $3.4 million. In 2004, when he was Horse of the Year and champion older horse, he was 4-for-4, including a win in the 1 1/4-mile Breeders' Cup Classic in stakes-record time 1:59.02. The Bobby Frankel-trained Ghostzapper also won the Woodward Stakes and Iselin Handicap.
Attfield, based in Canada, has won 1,731 races and with earnings of more than $88 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, 67, has a record tying eight wins in the Queen's Plate and captured his first Breeders' Cup race in 2011 when Perfect Shirl took the Filly and Mare Turf division. In the United States, he's won stakes including the Wood Memorial.
Wheeler won 1,336 races over nearly six decades starting in 1938, conditioning runners for prominent owners like C.V. Whitney, Greentree Stable and Nelson Bunker Hunt. He won 56 stakes races and had the 1982 champion older female with Track Robbery.
In 1959 and 1960, Wheeler's West Coast string included Tompion, winner of the Santa Anita Derby, Blue Grass, and Malibu. He also trained Silver Spoon and Bug Brush, winner of six stakes at the age of 4 and who set a world record the day she beat males Hillsdale and Terrang in the San Antonio Stakes. Wheeler died in 1992.
The four inductees, elected in the contemporary category by the 183 members of the Hall of Fame voting panel, will be inducted Aug. 10 at the hall in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.