September 24, 2023

A nod to Triple Crown and to the Turf in DeRosa’s Hall of Fame votes

Votes for induction to the Racing Hall of Fame & Museum are due today, and there was very little personal drama when casting my ballot for who I hope to see enshrined in Saratoga Springs, New York.

I voted for jockey Victor Espinoza and horses Gio Ponti and Goldikova.

Whether it’s a lifetime achievement such as the Hall of Fame or more short-term accolades like the Eclipse Award, I like to measure worthiness by accomplishment only, and three Kentucky Derbys and a Triple Crown to go with his three Breeders’ Cup wins is enough for me on Espinoza.

I try to avoid voting on a curve, but current inductees can help define what it means to have a Hall of Fame career, and both Kent Desormeaux and Calvin Borel are Hall of Fame riders with Kentucky Derby trebles chief among their accomplishments.

Gio Ponti is probably up against it, but I feel my vote for him is as much in admiration for his accomplishments as it is recognition his ushering a new era of U.S.-based turf stars.

Gio Ponti won 7 Grade 1 races and is the leading money-earned from the North American 2005 foal crop (of which Big Brown, Court Vision, and Indian Blessing are also members). But he also began a string of U.S.-based milers who could compete on an international stage. I.e., Gio Ponti gave way to Wise Dan who gave way to Tepin (herself just defeated by U.S.-based Tourist in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile).

Goldikova is the slam dunk of this year’s class. Her three (consecutive) Breeders’ Cup Mile wins is a superlative feat in the history of the American Turf.