SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Jockey Edgar Prado and trainer Carl Nafzger, who between them have three Kentucky Derby wins, led a group of six new inductees into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame on Monday.
Inducted with Prado and Nafzger were retired jockey Ismael Valenzuela and three horses: Manila, Inside Information and Ancient Title.
"I want to thank God for making me 5-foot-3 and 114 pounds so all this could happen," Prado said to an appreciative, capacity crowd gathered at the Hall across the street from Saratoga Race Course.
Prado, 41, is best known for having ridden the ill-fated 2006 Kentucky Derby winner, Barbaro. He was also aboard when Barbaro broke down two weeks later in the Preakness. The horse ultimately had to be destroyed as a result of the injuries.
During his acceptance speech, Prado thanked Barbaro's connections, "for giving me the best trip of my life."
A native of Lima, Peru, he led the nation in victories from 1997-99 while based in Maryland. Since relocating to New York, he has been among the earnings leaders and has added dozens of graded stakes wins, including two Belmont Stakes, aboard Sarava in 2002 and Birdstone in 2004. Birdstone also captured the Travers Stakes that year. Prado won the Eclipse Award as the champion jockey of 2006.
Nafzger, 66, a top bull rider in the 1960s before turning to training, was inducted into the Rodeo Hall of Fame earlier this year. He won the Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup Classic with Unbridled in 1990 and won his second Derby with Street Sense in 2007.
Street Sense, the only horse to win the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and the Kentucky Derby, also won the Travers, the second time a Nafzger-trained horse won The Midsummer's Derby. He won Saratoga's signature event with Unshaded in 2000. Nafzger also trained Banshee Breeze, the 3-year-old filly champion of 1998.
"If you don't believe in God, study my life," Nafzger said. "It's been a miracle. The horse has taken me from Texas to the Hall of Fame. I haven't done anything. I'm here because of the horses. We're all here today because horses have brought us together."
Valenzuela, 73, was selected for induction by the Hall of Fame's historical review committee. For health reasons, he couldn't travel from California for the ceremony but was awarded his plaque at a recent ceremony at Santa Anita Park.
A native of Venezuela, he won 22 stakes aboard the great Kelso and rode 2,545 winners from 1951-80. He won the Derby and Preakness with Tim Tam in 1958. A decade later, he completed the Derby-Preakness double again with Forward Pass, who finished second in the Derby but was declared the winner after Dancer's Image was disqualified.
Inside Information won 14 of 17 races in three seasons for owner-breeder Ogden Mills Phipps. In the final start of her career, the 1995 Breeders' Cup Distaff, she beat stablemate Heavenly Prize by 13 lengths, a Breeders' Cup record. That performance at Belmont Park clinched the Eclipse Award as the champion older filly of 1995.
Manila, who is now standing at stud in Turkey, was one of the most successful grass horses in American racing history. The son of Lyphard won 12 of 18 career starts and earned $2,692,799 for trainer Leroy Jolley.
Ancient Title competed from 1972-78 and won 24 of 57 starts, 20 of them stakes, earning $1,252,791 in purse money. At the time of his retirement, he ranked 10th in career earnings.