Eight-time Queen’s Plate-winning trainer Roger Attfield, who is based at Woodbine Racetrack, Ghostzapper, the 2004 Horse of the Year, jockey John Velazquez and conditioner Robert Wheeler, have been elected to the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame.
The class of 2012 will be inducted on Friday, August 10, in Saratoga Springs, New York, at the Fasig-Tipton sales pavilion at 10:30 a.m. The ceremony is free and open to the public.
Attfield, Ghostzapper, Velazquez and Wheeler were elected in the contemporary category by the 183 members of the Hall of Fame voting panel.
Having saddled the winner of 1,731 races, including 369 stakes, Attfield has purse 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 has won a record-tying eight runnings of the Queen’s Plate and seven editions of the Breeders’ Stakes. He won his first Breeders’ Cup race in 2011 when Perfect Shirl took the Filly and Mare Turf. The many other stakes races he has won in the United States include the Wood Memorial, Flower Bowl, Shadwell Turf Mile, Maker’s Mark Mile, Elkhorn, Yellow Ribbon, Orchid, and Carter Handicap. He is also a member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.
Ghostzapper (Awesome Again-Baby Zip, by Relaunch) won 9 of 11 career starts and earned $3,446,120. He was named Horse of the Year and Champion Older Male in 2004 when he posted a 4-for-4 record. Trained by Hall of Fame member Bobby Frankel, Ghostzapper won the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Classic in stakes-record time, covering the 1¼-mile distance in 1:59.02.
That year, he also won the Woodward Stakes, Tom Fool Handicap, and Iselin Handicap. At 3, Ghostzapper won the Vosburgh Stakes. He closed out his career with a victory in the Metropolitan Handicap at age 5. Ghostzapper raced for Frank Stronach and is currently a stallion at Stronach’s Adena Springs in Kentucky.
Velazquez has won 4,803 races, including 733 stakes, and has earned more than $263 million. He won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey in 2004 and 2005 and led all North American riders in earnings during those years. He led all New York jockeys in wins from 2001 through 2004 and set a record with 65 wins at Saratoga in 2004.
He has won 22 riding titles at New York Racing Association tracks and has nine Breeders’ Cup wins. He posted 50 Grade 1 wins from 2006 through 2011. Velazquez won the Kentucky Derby in 2011 with Animal Kingdom and the Belmont Stakes in 2007 with Rags to Riches.
His other major victories include the Travers, Alabama, Champagne, Sanford, Personal Ensign, Whitney, King’s Bishop, Hollywood Derby, and Kentucky Oaks.
Wheeler, whose career spanned from 1938 through 1992, won 1,336 races and trained for prominent owners such as C.V. Whitney, J. Rukin Jelks, Greentree Stable, and Nelson Bunker Hunt. He conditioned 56 stakes-winning horses, including 1982 Champion Older Female Track Robbery. The majority of his career predates the grading of races, but from 1976 on he won 18 of the 69 (26 per cent) graded stakes his horses ran in and 44 of his 175 (25 per cent) overall stakes attempts.
In 1959 and 1960, Wheeler’s West Coast-based division included Tompion, winner of the Santa Anita Derby, Blue Grass Stakes, and Malibu, and the distaff pair of Bug Brush and Silver Spoon. Bug Brush won six stakes at 4 and set a world record the day she beat males Hillsdale and Terrang in the San Antonio Stakes. Silver Spoon, a member of the Hall of Fame, won 10 stakes in two years, including the trainer’s first of back-to-back wins in the Santa Anita Derby, in which she defeated Preakness winner Royal Orbit.
He also sent out five winners of the Hollywood Juvenile Championship, which prior to the Breeders’ Cup era was one of the nation’s top races for 2-year-olds. From 1959 through 1969, Wheeler was on the leaders list of the top 30 North American trainers seven times in terms of earnings.
His division accounted for more than 60 percent of the earnings of the C.V. Whitney stable when it led all owners in 1960.