By Gene Kershner
SARATOGA SPRINGS -- New York State is the home of several Halls of Fame. The most famous being the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum located in Cooperstown. On the way to Cooperstown you can stop at the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, and pick up a few onions while you're there. In June, Iron Mike Tyson and Sylvester Stallone were inducted into the boxing shrine. You can also add the National Soccer Hall of Fame to the New York Halls, located in Oneonta.
I was also reminded by my colleague Michael MacAdam of the Schenectady Daily Gazette that the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame is located in nearby Amsterdam. This Hall is not to be confused with the WWE Hall of Fame! We'll also add that the National Women's Hall of Fame is located in Seneca Falls for our non-sports Hall of Fames.
There is one more significant Hall of Fame in New York that I have yet to mention and I'm guessing you know where I'm going. On Friday morning, in Saratoga Springs, the National Racing Hall of Fame will enshrine its seven newest members at the newly renovated Fasig-Tipton's Humphrey S. Finney Sales Pavilion at 10:30 a.m. Delivering the keynote speech will be celebrity chef Bobby Flay, winner of one of last year's Breeders' Cup races with More Than Real.
The Hall's voters inducted two trainers, a jockey and four horses into the 2011 class.
Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer headlines the elite group and currently has one of the best horses in training, the champion mare Blind Luck. Through 2010, Hollendorfer ranked fourth all-time in wins with 5,863 and eighth in all-time purse earnings. He has finished in the top 10 for wins for the past 24 years and had not showed any signs of slowing down. Major wins by Hollendorfer-trained horses include three Kentucky Oaks, a Santa Anita Derby, Haskell Invitational, Hollywood Futurity, Delaware Handicap, Alabama Stakes, Humana Distaff Handicap and the Ohio Derby.
Leading the horses being inducted is Sky Beauty, who dominated New York racing in the early 199s. At age 2 in 1992, she won four of five starts for owner Georgia Hofmann and Hall of Fame trainer Allen Jerkins, including the Grade 1 Matron and the Grade 2 Adirondack. The only loss of her 2-year-old campaign was a disqualification in the Spinaway Stakes. At age 3, Sky Beauty won five consecutive races including a sweep of the New York Filly Triple Crown, which consisted of the Acorn, Mother Goose and the Coaching Club American Oaks (CCAO). After a successful 4-year-old season and a brief campaign in 1995, she retired with a record of 15-2-2 from 21 starts and earnings of $1,336,000 and nine Grade 1 victories.
Inductee Open Mind was one of the sport's major stars early in her career, earning the Eclipse Award as Champion 2-year-old Filly. As a 2-year-old, Open Mind won two Grade 1 stakes, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and the Demoiselle, elevating her to the division's highest honor. Open Mind continued her early success by running her win streak to 10 after reeling off eight consecutive races as a 3-year-old. Among those victories were wins in the prestigious Kentucky Oaks, Acorn, Mother Goose, CCAO and the Alabama Stakes. She won her second consecutive Eclipse Award as Champion 3-year Old Filly and completed her career with a record of 12-2-2 from 19 starts.
Maryland-bred Safely Kept was the dominant 3-year-old sprinter in 1989, winning eight of nine and winning the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Sprinter. Her only loss came in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, finishing second to Dancing Spree. She won the Grade 1 Test and two Grade 2 events, the Genuine Risk Handicap and the Prioress Stakes. She came right back at age 4 to stay atop the sprint division, winning eight of 10 tries, including seven stakes wins. She redeemed herself in the Breeders' Cup Sprint in 1990, winning over the very tough Black Tie Affair, and avenging her defeat to Dancing Spree from the prior year. Safely Kept finished her career at 24-2-3 in 31 starts, resulting in more than $2.1 million in earnings.
The other inductees include Duke of Magenta, who finished with 15 wins in 19 starts racing in the 1870s, jockey Shelby "Pike" Barnes and trainer Matthew Byrnes.
The feature race at Saratoga on Friday is the Grade 2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes for 3-year-olds to be raced on the inner turf course at 1-1/16 miles. Street Game is the 8-5 morning line favorite, but we'll look for Crimson China, who has faced very good competition this year, to upset the favorite and apprentice jockey Ryan Curatolo. Big Blue Kitten has won four in a row and the Kitten's Joy colt will enjoy a 7-pound weight break from the favorite.
Post Time Outlook -- Grade 2 National Museum Hall of Fame S. (Race 7):
1 -- Crimson China; 2 -- Street Game; 3 -- Big Blue KItten.
Good luck and let's go cash some tickets!