National Museum of Racing Announces 2024 Hall of Fame Finalists

Nine racehorses, six trainers, and two jockeys account for the 17 finalists that will comprise the National Museum of Racing’s 2024 Hall of Fame ballot, as chosen by the Museum’s Hall of Fame Nominating Committee. The finalists are racehorses Blind Luck, Game On Dude, Gio Ponti, Gun Runner, Havre de Grace, Justify, Kona Gold, Lady Eli, and Rags to Riches; trainers Christophe Clement, Kiaran P. McLaughlin, H. Graham Motion, Doug F. O’Neill, John W. Sadler, and John A. Shirreffs; and jockeys Jorge F. Chavez and Joel Rosario. Gun Runner, Justify, and Rosario are finalists in their first year of eligibility.

Hall of Fame voters may select as many 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. The results of the voting on the contemporary candidates will be announced on Tuesday, April 23. That announcement will also include this year’s selections by the Museum’s Historic Review and Pillars of the Turf committees. The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place on Friday, Aug. 2, 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.

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.

A chestnut filly bred in Kentucky by Fairlawn Farm, Blind Luck (Pollard’s Vision—Lucky One, by Best of Luck) won the Eclipse Award for Champion 3-Year-Old Filly in 2010. A multiple Grade 1 winner at ages 2 and 3, Blind Luck was also a Grade 1 winner at 4. Trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer and owned by Hollendorfer in partnership with Mark DeDomenico LLC, John Carver, and Peter Abruzzo, Blind Luck posted a career record of 12-7-2 from 22 starts and earnings of $3,279,520 from 2009 through 2011. She won a total of 10 graded stakes, including six Grade 1s: the Kentucky Oaks, Oak Leaf, Hollywood Starlet, Las Virgenes, Alabama, and Vanity Handicap. Throughout her career, Blind Luck defeated the likes of Havre de Grace (three times), Life At Ten, Unrivaled Belle, Evening Jewel, Devil May Care, and Switch.

A dark bay gelding bred in Kentucky by Adena Springs, Game On Dude (Awesome Again—Worldly Pleasure, by Devil His Due) won 14 graded stakes, including eight Grade 1s. Racing from 2010 through 2014, he compiled a record of 16-7-1 from 34 starts and earnings of $6,498,893. Owned by Joe Torre’s Diamond Pride LLC, Lanni Family Trust, Mercedes Stable LLC, and Bernie Schiappa, Game On Dude was trained by Hall of Famer Bob 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 1¼ miles in 1:58.17. Game On Dude also won the Hollywood Gold Cup and San Antonio Stakes twice each, as well as single editions of the Pacific Classic, Californian, Charles Town Classic, Lone Star Derby, and Native Diver. He also won the Grade 1 Goodwood in 2011 and won the same race when it was renamed the Awesome Again in 2012. 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.

A bay colt bred in Kentucky by Kilboy Estate, Inc., Gio Ponti (Tale of the Cat—Chipeta Springs, by Alydar) won the Eclipse Award for Champion Turf Male in 2009 and 2010 and the Eclipse for Champion Older Male in 2009. Racing from 2007 through 2011, Gio Ponti posted a career record of 12-10-1 from 29 starts and earned $6,169,800. Owned by Castleton Lyons and trained by Clement, Gio Ponti won 10 graded stakes, including seven Grade 1s. His Grade 1 wins included consecutive editions of both the Man o’ War Stakes in 2009 and 2010 and the Shadwell Turf Mile in 2010 and 2011. Gio Ponti also finished second in the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic to Hall of Famer Zenyatta and second in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Mile to Hall of Famer Goldikova.

A chestnut colt bred in Kentucky by Besilu Stables, Gun Runner (Candy Ride—Quiet Giant, by Giant’s Causeway) won the Eclipse Awards for Horse of the Year and Champion Older Male in 2017. Racing from 2015 through 2018, Gun Runner compiled a record of 12-3-2 from 19 starts and earnings of $15,988,500, the second-highest total of any North American-based horse (behind Hall of Famer Arrogate). Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen for owners Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm, Gun Runner’s championship season in 2017 included Grade 1 wins in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Woodward, Whitney, and Stephen Foster. He also won the Grade 3 Razorback that year. As a 3-year-old in 2016, he won the Garde 1 Clark Handicap, earned Grade 2 wins in the Louisiana Derby and Risen Star, and won the Grade 3 Matt Winn. Gun Runner made one start in 2018 prior to being retired, winning the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup by 2½ lengths over West Coast. Overall, he won races at seven different tracks.

A bay filly bred in Kentucky by Nancy S. Dillman, Havre de Grace (Saint Liam—Easter Brunette, by Carson City) won the Eclipse Awards for Horse of the Year and Champion Older Female in 2011. Trained by Anthony Dutrow at ages 2 and 3 and by Larry Jones thereafter, Havre de Grace was campaigned by Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farms throughout her career. After finishing second to champion Blind Luck in thrilling editions of the Delaware Oaks and Alabama Stakes in 2010, Havre de Grace earned her first graded stakes victory later that year in the Grade 2 Cotillion. In her 2011 Horse of the Year campaign, she beat Blind Luck in the Azeri and went on to win Grade 1s in the Apple Blossom, Woodward (defeating males, including Flat Out), and Beldame (defeating Hall of Famer Royal Delta). Havre de Grace made one start as a 5-year-old in 2012, winning the listed New Orleans Ladies’ Stakes before being retired with a career record of 9-4-2 from 16 starts and earnings of $2,586,175.

A chestnut colt bred in Kentucky by John D. Gunther, Justify (Scat Daddy—Stage Magic, by Ghostzapper) became America’s 13th Triple Crown winner and was voted the Eclipse Award winner for Horse of the Year and Champion 3-Year-Old Male in 2018, winning all six of his career starts in a span of 111 days. Trained by Baffert for owners China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners, Starlight Racing, and WinStar Farm, Justify won his first three starts at Santa Anita, including the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby (note: the result of this race is currently being contested in the court system). He then defeated champion Good Magic by 2½ lengths in the Kentucky Derby, beat Bravazo by a half-length in the Preakness, and swept the Triple Crown with a 1¾-lengh win over Gronkowski in the Belmont, his final start.

A bay gelding bred in Kentucky by Carlos Perez, Kona Gold (Java Gold—Double Sunrise, by Slew o’ Gold) won the Eclipse Award for Champion Sprinter in 2000. That year, he set a six-furlong record at Churchill Downs in his Breeders’ Cup Sprint victory. Campaigned by Bruce Headley (who also served as his trainer), Irwin and Andrew Molasky, Michael Singh, et al, Kona Gold raced from 1998 through 2003 with a record of 14-7-2 from 30 starts and earnings of $2,293,384. He set a track record for 5½ furlongs at Santa Anita and won a total of 10 graded stakes. Kona Gold won multiple editions of the Bing Crosby Handicap, Potrero Grande Breeders’ Cup Handicap, and El Conejo Handicap. He registered Beyer Speed Figures of 110 or higher 17 times. On 10 occasions, his Beyer Figure was 115 or higher, including a career-best of 123. Kona Gold made five consecutive appearances in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

A dark bay filly bred in Kentucky by Runnymede Farm and Catesby W. Clay, Lady Eli (Divine Park—Sacre Coeur, by Saint Ballado) won the 2017 Eclipse Award for Champion Turf Female. Trained by Chad Brown for Sheep Pond Partners, Lady Eli won her first six starts, including Grade 1 victories in the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and 2015 Belmont Oaks. A battle with laminitis then kept her away from the races for more than a year. Upon her return in 2016, Lady Eli finished second in the Ballston Spa then won the Grade 1 Flower Bowl and finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf. She finished second in the Jenny Wiley in her 2017 debut then won the Gamely, Diana, and Ballston Spa in succession. Lady Eli was retired after finishing off the board in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf. Overall, she posted a record of 10-3-0 from 14 starts with earnings of $2,959,800. Lady Eli won a total of eight graded stakes, including at least one Grade 1 in each of her four years on the track.

A chestnut filly bred in Kentucky by Skara Glen Stables, Rags to Riches (A.P. Indy—Better Than Honour, by Deputy Minister) won the Eclipse Award for Champion 3-Year-Old Filly in 2007, a campaign highlighted by an historic victory in the Belmont Stakes. Trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher and Michael McCarthy for owners Michael B. Tabor and Derrick Smith, Rags to Riches broke her maiden in her second career start in January 2007, at Santa Anita. That six-length victory was the beginning of a five-race win streak. The next four wins were all Grade 1s: the Las Virgenes Stakes, Santa Anita Oaks (by 5½ lengths), Kentucky Oaks (by 4¼ lengths), and the Belmont. In winning the third jewel of the Triple Crown, Rags to Riches defeated two-time Horse of the Year and Hall of Famer Curlin by a head to become the first filly in 102 years to win the event. Rags to Riches remains one of only three fillies to win the Belmont. She finished second in her next race, the Grade 1 Gazelle, and a right front leg injury was discovered after the race. A 4-year-old campaign was being planned for Rags to Riches, but she re-injured her right front pastern and was retired with a record of 5-1-0 from seven starts and earnings of $1,342,528.

Clement, 58, a native of Paris, France, has won 2,433 races (through Feb. 19) with purse earnings of more than $169 million (11th all time) in a career that began in 1991. He trained three-time Eclipse Award winner Gio Ponti, winner of four straight Grade 1s on the turf in 2009, as well as 2014 Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist, who also won consecutive runnings of the Jockey Club Gold Cup in 2014 and 2015. Clement has won 268 graded stakes. His Grade 1 wins include multiple editions of the Beverly D. (2001, 2007, 2008), Del Mar Oaks (2007, 2013), Diana Handicap (2003, 2015), Manhattan Handicap (2001, 2009, 2010), Man o’ War (2009, 2010), Turf Mile (2010, 2011), and Sword Dancer (1999, 2011, 2021, 2022).

Clement began his career in the United States by winning with the first horse he saddled, Spectaculaire, on Oct. 20, 1991, at Belmont. He has since trained 20 horses that have earned $1 million or more. Other Grade 1 winners trained by Clement include Discreet Marq, Forbidden Apple, Gufo, Mauralanka, Relaxed Gesture, Rutherienne, Voodoo Dancer, and Winchester, among others. Clement won his first Breeders’ Cup race in 2021 when Pizza Bianca captured the Juvenile Fillies Turf.

McLaughlin, 63, a native of Lexington, Ky., won 1,809 races with purse earnings of $130,031,267 (including international statistics) from 1995 through 2021. He ranks 22nd all time in North American earnings. A winner of 179 graded/group stakes, McLaughlin won three Breeders’ Cup races: the 206 Classic (Invasor), 2007 Filly and Mare Turf (Lahudood), and the 2016 Dirt Mile (Tamarkuz). Along with Hall of Famer Invasor — who won Eclipse Awards for Horse of the Year and Champion Older Male in 2006 — both Lahudood (2007 Champion Turf Female) and Questing (2012 Champion 3-Year-Old Filly) earned Eclipse Awards for McLaughlin.

McLaughlin’s Grade 1 victories included multiple editions of the Donn Handicap (2007, 2009), Gazelle (2007, 2012), Metropolitan Handicap (2008, 2016), and Ogden Phipps (2012, 2015, 2016). He won the 2006 Belmont Stakes with Jazil. Other top horses trained by McLaughlin included millionaires Alpha, A Thread of Blue, Cavorting, Frosted, It’s Tricky, and Wedding Toast. A three-time leading trainer at Nad al Sheba in Dubai, McLaughlin also led the trainer standings at Saratoga Race Course in 2008. He ranked in the top 20 among North American trainers in earnings 12 times, including six times in the top 10.

Motion, 59, a native of Cambridge, England, has won 2,709 races to date with purse earnings of more than $151 million (16th all time) in a career that began in 1993. He won the Kentucky Derby and Dubai World Cup with champion Animal Kingdom, trained two-time Eclipse Award winner Main Sequence, and has won four Breeders’ Cup races. His first Breeders’ Cup victory took place in the 2004 Turf with 10-time stakes winner Better Talk Now at odds of 28-1. Motion won the 2010 Filly and Mare Turf at odds of 46-1 with Shared Account, was victorious in the Turf for a second time four years later with Main Sequence, and won his fourth Breeders’ Cup race with Sharing in the 2019 Juvenile Fillies Turf at 14-1 odds.

Motion has won 198 graded stakes, including multiple editions at the Grade 1 level of the Del Mar Oaks (2011, 2022), Manhattan Handicap (2007, 2017, 2018), Man o’ War (2005, 2022), Matriarch (2010, 2016), Sword Dancer (2004, 2014), and United Nations (2005, 2014). His Grade 1 wins also include the Alcibiades (2016), Frank E. Kilroe Mile (2015), Hollywood Derby (2022), Hollywood Turf Cup (2011), Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (2014), Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (2003), Rodeo Drive (2015), Spinster (2011), Whitney (2009), and Wood Memorial (2011). Motion has ranked in the top 15 among North American trainers in earnings 10 times. He has trained 12 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 fifth all time with 38 stakes wins at Keeneland.

O’Neill, 55, a native of Dearborn, Mich., has won 2,861 races to date with purse earnings of more than $160 million (14th all time) in a career that began in 1988. He won the Kentucky Derby and 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.

O’Neill won nine graded stakes with Hall of Fame member Lava Man, including three editions of the Hollywood Gold Cup (2005, 2006, 2007), two runnings of the Santa Anita Handicap (2006, 2007), and one each in the Pacific Classic (2006) and Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap (2006), all Grade 1 events. O’Neill has won six 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. O’Neill has trained 13 horses that have earned $1 million or more and has multiple victories in Grade 1 races such as the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (2005, 2015), Alcibiades (2010, 2015), FrontRunner (2013, 2015), Santa Anita Derby (2012, 2013), and Triple Bend (2004, 2017), among others. Other Grade/Group 1 wins include the Breeders’ Futurity (2006), Del Mar Futurity (2015), Del Mar Oaks (2015), Donn Handicap (2008), Florida Derby (2016), Godolphin Mile (2007), Hopeful (2015), Japan Cup Dirt (2003), Pennsylvania Derby (2021), Secretariat (2007), Stephen Foster (2018), and Vosburgh (2013). O’Neill has won 142 graded stakes and ranks No. 3 all time with 971 wins at Santa Anita and No. 5 at Del Mar with 441.

Sadler, 67, a native of Long Beach, Calif., has won 2,782 races with purse earnings of more than $149 million (17th 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. Sadler has conditioned 10 horses that have earned $1 million or more: Accelerate, Catapult, Flagstaff, Flightline, Hard Aces, Healthy Addiction, Higher Power, Iotapa, Stellar Wind, and Switch.

Sadler, at the Grade 1 level, has won four editions of both the Pacific Classic (2018, 2019, 2021, 2022) and Clement L. Hirsch (2014, 2016, 2017, 2019) and three runnings each of the Santa Anita Handicap (2018, 2019, 2020) and La Brea (2007, 2009, 2010). Other Grade 1 races he has won multiple editions of include the Gold Cup at Santa Anita (2015, 2018), Santa Anita Derby (2010, 2021), Santa Anita Oaks (2010, 2015), and Vanity Handicap (2004, 2014). Sadler won four training titles at Hollywood Park and has won two each at Del Mar and Santa Anita. He ranks No. 2 all time in wins at Santa Anita with 1,046 and No. 9 with 89 stakes wins. At Del Mar, he ranks No. 2 in both wins (532) and stakes wins (85).

Shirreffs, 78, a native of Leavenworth, Kan., has won 575 races, including 107 graded events, with purse earnings of more than $54 million. Although he had a few starters as early as 1978, Shirreffs did not start training full time until 1994. Best known as the conditioner of Hall of Famer Zenyatta, Shirreffs conditioned the four-time Eclipse Award winner to 19 consecutive victories, including 13 Grade 1s, from 2007 through 2010. Named Horse of the Year in 2010 and Champion Older Female each year from 2008 through 2010, Zenyatta’s Grade 1 wins included the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic in 2008 and the Classic the following year. In 2009, Shirreffs also won the Ladies’ Classic with Life Is Sweet, becoming the first trainer to win both Classics in the same year. Shirreffs won the 2005 Kentucky Derby with Giacomo at odds of 50-1.

At the Grade 1 level, Shirreffs has won five editions of both the Santa Margarita Handicap (1999, 2003, 2005, 2009, 2010) and Vanity Handicap (1999, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010); three runnings of both the Lady’s Secret (2008, 2009, 2010) and Santa Anita Derby (2007, 2017, 2020); and two renewals of the American Oaks (2010, 2011), Apple Blossom (2008, 2010), Clement L. Hirsch (2009, 2010), and Santa Maria (2000, 2003). Shirreffs has trained eight horses that have earned more than $1 million: Express Train, Giacomo, Gormley, Hollywood Story, Life Is Sweet, Manistique, Tiago, and Zenyatta.

Chavez, 62, a native of Callao, Peru, won 4,526 races with purse earnings of $161,792,580 from 1988 through 2011. Voted the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey in 1999, Chavez won the 2001 Kentucky Derby aboard Monarchos and earned a pair of Breeders’ Cup victories in his career. He ranked in the top 20 in North American earnings 13 times — including six times in the top 10 — and finished in the top 20 in wins eight times. Chavez won 196 graded stakes and topped all jockeys on the New York Racing Association circuit in wins six consecutive years from 1994 through 1999. He won seven riding titles at Aqueduct and five at Belmont. Chavez rode Eclipse Award winners Artax and Beautiful Pleasure, as well as Affirmed Success, Albert the Great, Behrens, Flower Alley, Lido Palace, Spain, Val’s Prince, and Will’s Way, among others.

Along with the Kentucky Derby and his Breeders’ Cup wins with Artax (1999 Sprint) and Beautiful Pleasure (1999 Distaff). Chavez’s Grade 1 victories included the Futurity Stakes (1991), Ballerina Stakes (1993), Hopeful Stakes (1994), Flower Bowl (1994, 2002), Metropolitan Handicap (1995, 1997, 2002), Vosburgh Stakes (1996, 1998), Manhattan Stakes (1996), Man o’ War (1996, 1999), Turf Classic (1996, 1999), Travers Stakes (1996), Carter Handicap (1997, 1999), Vosburgh Stakes (1997, 1999), Cigar Mile (1997,1999), Gulfstream Park Handicap (1999, 2000), Personal Ensign (1999, 2000), Beldame Stakes (1999), Oaklawn Handicap (1999), Hempstead Handicap (2000), Champagne Stakes (2000, 2002), Jockey Club Gold Cup (2000), Florida Derby (2001), Hollywood Futurity (2002), Fountain of Youth (2002), Frank J. DeFrancis Memorial Dash (2002), Woodward Stakes (2002), and Sword Dancer (2005).

Rosario, 39, a native of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, has won 3,586 races with purse earnings of more than $316 million (No. 4 all time) in a career that begin in 2003. The Eclipse Award winner for Outstanding Jockey in 2021, Rosario has won 15 Breeders’ Cup races (tied for fourth all time), as well as the Kentucky Derby in 2013 (Orb) and the Belmont Stakes in 2014 (Tonalist) and 2019 (Sir Winston). He has won 408 graded stakes — including 113 Grade 1 events —  and has ranked in the top 10 in North American earnings 15 times and in wins four times. Rosario has won three riding titles each at Del Mar, Hollywood Park, and Santa Anita, as well as two at Keeneland, where he set a record with 38 wins during the 2013 spring meeting. In 2021, he was the leading rider at Kentucky Downs with a record 17 wins. Rosario also won the 2013 Dubai World Cup, tied the record with six wins on one card at Hollywood Park in 2009, and won the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot twice — in track-record time with No Nay Never in 2013 and with Shang Shang Shang in 2018.

Rosario’s Breeders’ Cup victories include the 2009 Sprint (Dancing in Silks), 2010 Dirt Mile (Dakota Phone), 2014 Turf Sprint (Bobby’s Kitten), 2015 Filly and Mare Sprint (Wavell Avenue), 2016 Mile (Tourist), 2017 Turf Sprint (Stormy Liberal), 2018 Juvenile (Game Winner), 2018 Juvenile Fillies (Jayhawk), 2018 Classic (Accelerate), 2019 Filly and Mare Sprint (Covfefe), 2019 Mile (Uni), 2020 Juvenile Fillies (Vequist), 2020 Dirt Mile (Knicks Go), 2021 Juvenile Fillies (Echo Zulu), and the 2021 Classic (Knicks Go). He has multiple Grade 1 wins in the LaBrea (2009, 2010), Matriarch (2010, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2020, 2023), Malibu (2010, 2016), Alabama (2010, 2023), Gamely (2011, 2012), Santa Monica (2011, 2012), Pacific Classic (2012, 2018), Jockey Club Gold Cup (2012, 2014), Metropolitan Handicap (2013, 2016), Man o’ War (2014, 2019), Ashland (2014, 2021), Personal Ensign (2014, 2017), Apple Blossom (2014, 2023), Ogden Phipps (2014, 2022, 2023), Champagne (2016, 2020), Whitney (2016, 2021), H. Allen Jerkens (2017, 2021), Frizette (2018, 2019), Test (2019, 2022), Clark (2019, 2022), Santa Anita Handicap (2019, 2020, 2021), First Lady (2020, 2022), and Sword Dancer (2021, 2022).

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.

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Contact: Brien Bouyea
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