A new class headed up by trainer Carl Nafzger and jockey Edgar Prado was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame Monday in Saratoga Springs.
The class of 2008 also included jockey Ismael `Milo` Valenzuela and three horses ` Ancient Title, Inside Information and Manila.
The biggest rounds of applause in the standing-room-only crowd at the Fasig-Tipton Sales Pavilion were reserved for Nafzger and Prado, both of whom are still at the top of their respective professions.
`To thank everybody in my life, it would take three days,` said Nafzger, who has trained two Kentucky Derby champions ` Unbridled (1990) and Street Sense (2007).
`My success shows that it pays to dream big,` said Prado, who earned his first Kentucky Derby title with Barbaro in 2006.
Nafzger talked about the importance of honoring the role his horses have played in his rise to prominence.
`The horse has taken me from Texas to the Hall of Fame,` said Nafzger, who has an Eclipse Award to his credit. `I’ve done nothing.`
Prado thanked many people during his acceptance speech including his family, some of whom flew in from Peru for the occasion, but made special mention of the horse that gave him the biggest win of his 22-year North American racing career.
`To my friend Barbaro, who is in my heart forever thank you,` said Prado, a three-time national leader in victories.
A two-time Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner during his three-decade career, Valenzuela couldn’t make it to Saratoga Springs to accept his Hall of Fame plaque in person. Instead, the Hall of Fame traveled to California to present Valenzuela with his plaque. A video of the event was shown before his daughter, Diana Valenzuela, also made a brief acceptance speech.
`It’s a great feeling to have this plaque, and I want to thank everyone in this room for this honor,` said Valenzuela, who won 2,545 races in a career that stretched from 1951 to 1980.
Ancient Title won 24 of its 57 starts between 1972 and 1978, including the 1975 Hollywood Gold Cup and Whitney Handicap. Four of his victories came as a 7-year-old after an injury cut his previous season short. Among his wins that year were the Bel Air and Del Mar handicaps.
Inside Information was a consistent performer, winning 14 of her 17 starts and never finishing worse than third place. Her victories included a career-ending 13 1/2-length win in the 1995 Breeders’ Cup Distaff, which remains the Breeders’ Cup record for biggest margin of victory.
Manila was another horse that rarely lost. After finishing seventh in his debut, the colt won nine consecutive races including four Grade 1 stakes including the 1986 Breeders’ Cup Turf. The streak ended with the 1987 Bernard Baruch at Saratoga, but he went on to win the Arlington Million in his final start.
Dr. Dean Richardson ` who headed the team that operated on and cared for Barbaro after his fall in the 2006 Preakness ` gave the keynote address at the induction ceremony.“