Jockey John Velazquez, trainers Roger Attfield and Bob Wheeler, and Ghostzapper, the 2004 Horse of the Year, were announced on Monday as the induction class for 2012 by the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.
Those four individuals beat out six others who were on the ballot – the Eclipse Award-winning male sprinter Housebuster, champion fillies Ashado and Xtra Heat, and jockeys Calvin Borel, Garrett Gomez, and Alex Solis.
Hall of Fame voters had to choose from that final list of 10, and could mix and match horses and people in any combination. Though voters could pick as many individuals as they wished, only the four who received the most votes got in.
Velazquez, 40, is a two-time Eclipse Award winner who achieved his greatest victory in last year’s Kentucky Derby aboard Animal Kingdom. He also won the 2007 Belmont Stakes aboard the filly Rags to Riches. Velazquez has won more than 4,800 races.
Attfield, 72, is an eight-time winner of Canada’s Sovereign Award as champion trainer, and has won that country’s most-prestigious race, the Queen’s Plate, eight times. Three of those Queen’s Plate winners went on to sweep the Canadian Triple Crown. Last fall, Attfield won his first Breeders’ Cup race when Perfect Shirl captured the BC Filly and Mare Turf.
Wheeler, who died in 1992, was one of the all-time greats on the West Coast. His champion racehorses included the females Silver Spoon and Track Robbery. Particularly adept with 2-year-olds, Wheeler won the Hollywood Juvenile Championship five times and the Del Mar Debutante three times. At the time of his death, Wheeler was fifth on the list of all-time stakes-winning trainers at Santa Anita, where he won three runnings of the Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap.
Ghostzapper secured his Horse of the Year title in 2004 by winning that year’s BC Classic at Lone Star. He remained in training in 2005, and though he made just one start, it was dazzling, as he romped to a 6 1/4-length victory in the Metropolitan Handicap off a seven-month layoff. Ghostzapper won 9 of 11 starts in his oft-interrupted career, including four Grade 1 races. Bred and owned by Frank Stronach, Ghostzapper was trained by Bobby Frankel.
The induction ceremonies are Aug. 10 in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., where the Hall of Fame is located.