Five contemporary horses, three trainers and one jockey are the nine finalists on the ballot for induction in 2019.The four mares nominated are Royal Delta in her first year of eligibility, US Horse of the Year Havre de Grace, classic winner Rags To Riches and Blind Luck.
The fifth equine finalist is three-time Eclipse Award winner Gio Ponti.The trainers nominated are Mark Casse, Christophe Clement and David Whiteley while Craig Perret is the lone jockey on the ballot.
The finalists were selected by the Hall of Fame’s Nominating Committee from a total of 93 initial candidates suggested by turf journalists, thoroughbred industry participants and racing fans.To be eligible, trainers must be licensed for 25 years and jockeys for 20 years.
Thoroughbreds are required to be retired for five calendar years before becoming eligible and all candidates must have been active within the past 25 years.Candidates not active within the past 25 years are eligible through the Historic Review process.
The late Royal Delta, who won 12 of her 22 starts including six G1 events, was subsequently sold by her breeder Palides Investments for $8.5 million to Besilu Stables after her 3YO season at the Keeneland November Sale.
She went on to race at four and five before going to a shirt lived stud career, passing away at the age of nine at stud in Ireland from complications while delivering her first foal in 2017.The Galileo filly survived and is now in training.
Rags to Riches had just seven career starts but won five straight as a 3YO for Todd Pletcher including four G1 races ending with the Belmont Stakes over the champion colt Curlin, becoming only the third filly to capture the final leg of the Triple Crown.
Blind Luck captured G1 events at the ages of two, three and four, earning over $3.2 million for trainer Jerry Hollendorefer while Havre de Grace banked $2.5 million and was named the 2011 UJS Horse of the Year.The pair were arch rivals on the track in 2010 and 2011 with Blind Luck named champion sophomore filly of 2010 before Havre de Grace cemented Horse of the Year honors in 2011 after beating the males in the GI Woodward Stakes.
She was later sold to Mandy Pope for a record-breaking $10 million at the 2012 Fasig-Tipton November Sale.Gio Ponti is a Hall of Fame finalist for the third consecutive year.
He won eight G1 races and earnings of over $6.1 million for his trainer and fellow nominee Christophe Clement.Clement, 53, has won 1906 races to date for earnings of over $127 million during a career that started in 1991.
Mark Casse, 58, began his training career in 1979 and has won 2,645 races to date with earnings exceeding $157 million while David Whiteley, the son of Hall of Fame trainer Frank Whiteley, gained acclaim as the trainer of champions Waya, Revidere and Just a Game and maintained a stunning 32.7% winning strike rate throughout his training career.Craig Perret, 68, won 4,415 races and earned over $113 million during his riding career from 1967 through 2005.
His career highlights include wins in the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes.All candidates must receive majority approval (50.1% or higher) of the voting panel to be elected to the Hall of Fame.
The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held at Saratoga in New York State on August 2.