SARATOGA SPRINGS, New York — Curlin, a two-time Horse of the Year who retired as North America's all-time leading money earner, led the class of inductees into the National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame Friday.
Joining Curlin were two thoroughbreds, three horsemen and a pair of sportsmen enshrined during a ceremony at the Fasig-Tipton Sales Pavilion near Saratoga Race Course, where the nation's best thoroughbreds are competing.
Late Kendall-Jackson wine magnate Jess Jackson purchased Curlin following his impressive debut victory in February 2007, and the son of Smart Strike went on to become only the fifth horse and first since Cigar in 1995-96 to be voted back-to-back Eclipse Awards as Horse of the Year in 2007 and 2008.
"My husband loved this horse," said Barbara Banke, Jackson's widow who owns and operates Stonestreet Stables. "He devised a path to greatness for the horse, and it was a magnificent ride for two years. It was unbelievably exciting and very quick."
Curlin ran in all three legs of the Triple Crown in 2007 against what experts have regarded as the best 3-year-old crop in recent memory, winning the Preakness and later adding the Jockey Club Gold Cup and Breeders' Cup Classic against older horses.
In 2008, Curlin won the world's richest race, the $6 million Dubai World Cup, along with the Stephen Foster, Woodward and Jockey Club Gold Cup, all Grade 1 events. Trained by Steve Asmussen, he finished with 11 wins and $10,501,800 in purse earnings from 16 lifetime starts.
"It was a wonderful ride," said Banke. "This is a sport of dreamers. Jess was a dreamer. I'm a dreamer. If you're not a dreamer, you don't belong in the sport."
The other inductees were:
— Ashado, a two-time champion who won 12 of 21 lifetime starts with earnings of more than $3.9 million from 2003-05. Trained by Todd Pletcher for the partnership of Starlight Stables, Paul Saylor and Johns Martin, she won seven Grade 1 stakes and the Eclipse Award as top 3-year-old filly of 2004 and top older mare of 2005.
— Clifford, who put together a record of 42 wins, 10 seconds and eight thirds in 62 starts over a seven-year career that ended in 1897. He later became a successful stallion at the former Hurricana Farm in nearby Amsterdam, New York.
— Alex Solis, an active jockey with 4,991 victories and more than $235 million in purse earnings since coming to the U.S. from Panama in 1982. The regular rider of 1986 Preakness winner and champion 3-year-old Snow Chief, he has won 321 graded stakes.
— Lloyd Hughes, the first jockey to win the Preakness Stakes three times. Born in Wales in 1857, he captured the Preakness in 1875, 1879 and 1880 and also won the Belmont Stakes and Travers Stakes twice before his death in 1925.
— Gary Jones, a winner of 1,465 races, 102 graded stakes and $52.6 million from 1974-96. Among his top horses were Hall of Famer Best Pal, turf champion Turkoman and Grade 1 winners Quiet American, Lakeway, Lightning Mandate and Radar Ahead.
— Edward R. Bradley, who owned four Kentucky Derby winners, three Preakness winners and two Belmont Stakes winners. He also bred 128 stakes winners and 15 champions as owner of Idle Hour Stock Farm.
— Edward P. Taylor, a world-wide breeder of more than 320 stakes winners and 54 champions, most notably 1954 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Northern Dancer.