In a surprising development, the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame announced Monday that the champion filly Heavenly Prize would be the lone selection among 10 contemporary nominees that will be inducted into the Hall of Fame at Saratoga in August.
Under current voting rules, which require majority approval from an electorate of 166 persons, Heavenly Prize was the only nominee that met the 50.1 percent support threshold. The other nominees were horses Blind Luck, Gio Ponti, and Havre de Grace; jockeys Robby Albarado, Corey Nakatani, and Craig Perret; and trainers Mark Casse, John Shirreffs, and the late David Whiteley.
Heavenly Prize, who died at age 22 in 2013, was owned and bred by the late Ogden Phipps and trained by Shug McGaughey. She compiled a lifetime mark of 18-9-6-3, $1,825,820, and was ridden throughout her career by Mike Smith and Pat Day.
At two, Heavenly Prize won the Frizette (G1) and ran third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). She was voted champion at age three, winning the Alabama (G1), Gazelle H. (G1), and Beldame (G1) while placing in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1), Test (G1), and Prioress (G2).
As a four-year-old, Heavenly Prize earned Grade 1 wins in the Apple Blossom H., Hempstead H., Go for Wand H., and John A. Morris H., but missed out on championship honors to stablemate and fellow Hall of Famer Inside Information, who beat Heavenly Prize by 13 1/2 lengths in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. In addition to the Breeders’ Cup, Heavenly Prize also placed in the Beldame and Oaklawn Breeders’ Cup. She concluded her career with a third-place finish to Cigar in the 1996 Donn H. (G1).
By Seeking the Gold and out of the Nijinsky II mare Oh What a Dance, Heavenly Prize was a full sister to Grade 1 winner Oh What a Windfall. She reared multiple Grade 1 winner Good Reward, Grade 2 winner Pure Prize, and stakes winner Cosmic. She’s the second dam of Grade 1 heroine Persistently and this year’s Lecomte (G3) scorer Instilled Regard.
Heavenly Prize, along with choices by the Hall’s Historic Review and Pillars of the Turf committees, will be inducted on August 3 at the Fasig-Tipton Sales Pavilion at 10:30 a.m. (EDT), a ceremony which is free to attend and open to the public.
The Historic Review Committee’s selections will be announced May 9, while the Pillars of the Turf Committee’s choices will be revealed May 23.