Two trainers, three jockeys, and six horses have been selected as the 2009 finalists for election to the National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame. The 11 finalists were determined by a vote of the Hall of Fame Nominating Committee, which considered a total of 91 candidates. The finalists are:
- Contemporary female horses: Open Mind, Silverbulletday, Sky Beauty
- Contemporary male horses: Best Pal, Point Given, Tiznow
- Jockeys: Eddie Maple, Randy Romero, Alex Solis
- Trainers: Bob Baffert, Robert Wheeler
Eddie Maple rode 4,398 winners and his mounts earned $105,338,573 in a career that stretched from 1965 into 1998. He won the Belmont Stakes with Crème Fraiche and Temperence Hill, 3 runnings of the Metropolitan Handicap, and the Suburban Handicap twice. He was also aboard for the final start of Secretariat's career, winning the Canadian International.
Randy Romero had 4,294 victories from 26,091 mounts, purse earnings of $75,264,198 and 122 graded stakes wins during a 26-year career than ended in 1999. Romero was the regular rider of the unbeaten champion Personal Ensign and champion Go for Wand. He won three Breeders' Cup races and won riding titles at 10 individual tracks.
Alex Solis won his first race in 1981 in his native Panama. Through the end of 2008, he had 4,635 victories from 30,551 mounts, purse earnings of $211,283,590 and 288 graded stakes victories. The California-based rider won the 1986 Preakness with champion Snow Chief and has won three Breeders' Cup races including Pleasantly Perfect the Classic.
Trainer Bob Baffert has won 8 Triple Crown races, 7 Breeders' Cup races and trained 10 champions. He led the nation in earnings three consecutive years, 1998-2000, and through 2008 ranks fifth in career purse earnings with $134,822,227. Baffert has trained approximately 160 individual stakes-winning horses and has won 254 graded stakes.
Robert Wheeler was a trainer in California until his death in 1992 at the age of 72. Much of Wheeler's career predated the grading of racing, but from 1976, he won 26 percent (18 of 69) of the graded stakes he entered and won 25 percent of all stakes attempts. He trained a total of 56 stakes-winning horses, including Track Robbery, the 1982 older female champion.
Open Mind was the champion 2-year-old filly of 1988. She earned another title at three with victories in the New York Filly Triple Crown of the Acorn, the Mother Goose and the Coaching Club American Oaks, as well as the Kentucky Oaks and the Alabama. Owned by Eugene Klein and trained by D. Wayne Lukas, Open Mind put together a 10-race winning streak that included seven Grade 1 victories. She was retired after two starts as a 4-year-old with a career record from 19 starts of 12 wins, two seconds and two thirds and earnings of $1,844,372.
Silverbulletday, owned by Mike Pegram and trained by Bob Baffert, was the champion 2-year-old filly of 1998 and the champion 3-year-old filly of 1999. She won 15 of 23 career starts and compiled purse earnings of $3,093,207. Her victories included the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, Ashland, Kentucky Oaks, Alabama and Gazelle.
Sky Beauty won the New York Filly Triple Crown and the Alabama in 1993 and was champion older filly or mare of 1994. She completed her racing career for owner Georgia E. Hofmann and trainer Allen Jerkens with 15 victories from 21 starts and purse earnings of $1,336,000.
Best Pal, bred and owned Mr. and Mrs. John C. Mabee, won 17 stakes from ages two through seven, placed in 15 other stakes and earned more than $5.6 million. Trained during his long career by Ian Jory, Gary Jones and Richard Mandella, he won most of the top races on the West Coast. Best Pal is one of only four horses to win a particular trio of the West Coast's top rung of races: the Santa Anita Handicap, Hollywood Gold Cup, and Charles H. Strub Stakes. From ages two to four he won 12 of 23 starts.
Point Given, bred and raced by The Thoroughbred Corporation, compiled a record of 9-3-0 and earnings of $3,968,500 from 13 starts in 2000 and 2001. He was Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old of 2001. At two, the son of Thunder Gulch was second in the Champagne and the Breeders' Cup Juvenile before his victory in the Hollywood Futurity. He opened his 3-year-old season with victories in the San Felipe and Santa Anita Derby. He finished fifth as the favorite in the Kentucky Derby then won the Preakness, the Belmont Stakes, the Haskell Invitational and the Travers.
Tiznow won eight of his 15 career starts and earned $6,427,830. The California-bred son of Cee's Tizzy is the only two-time winner of the Breeders' Cup Classic. He defeated Giant's Causeway by a neck in 2000 and Sakhee by a nose in 2001. The colt, trained by Jay Robbins for owner-breeder Cecilia Straub Rubens, was the 3-year-old champion and Horse of the Year in 2000 and the champion older male in 2001.
In early March, the approximately 180 members of the Hall of Fame Voting Panel will vote for one name in each category. The individual with the highest number of votes in each category will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Friday, August 14, 2009 in Saratoga Springs. All inductees will be announced in late April.