June 3, 2005 — Trainer Nick Zito and three standouts of steeplechase racing, jockey Thomas Walsh, trainer Sidney Watters Jr. and five-time champion Lonesome Glory, comprise the Class of 2005 to be inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Museum president John von Stade announced the four newest members of the Hall of Fame on May 31. They will be formally inducted in public ceremonies at 10:30 a.m. on August 8 at the Fasig-Tipton Sales Pavilion in Saratoga Springs.
Zito, 57, a native of New York City, won the Kentucky Derby with Strike the Gold and Go for Gin. He also has won the Preakness and Belmont Stakes and 20 other Grade I stakes in a career that began in 1972. Through May 30, Zito had recorded 1,410 victories–83 of them in graded stakes–and earned $69.3 million in purse money.
Watters, 87, who also was a very successful trainer of horses that ran in flat races, led or shared the lead in steeplechase victories in a season six times between 1948 and 1971. He led steeplechase trainers three times in purse money won.
During his 12-year career as a steeplechase rider, Walsh, 65, recorded 253 victories, fifth on the career list. He was the leading jockey twice in races won and was the regular rider of champions Barnaby’s Bluff, Bon Nouvel and Mako. Walsh won the prestigious Grand National Steeplechase a record five consecutive years.
Lonesome Glory, a son of Transworld raced by the late Mrs. Walter Jeffords Jr., won 24 of 44 career starts between 1991 and 1999 and is the leading money-earning horse in steeplechase history with $1.4 million.
Three years into his retirement, Lonesome Glory was found to have injured himself in a stall accident at trainer F. Bruce Miller’s farm. When efforts failed to repair the broken bone in his left hind leg he was euthanized on Feb. 25, 2002. He was 14.
Watters, Walsh and Lonesome Glory are the first steeplechase inductees since 1997.
The trustees of the National Museum of Racing approved changes to rules in 2004 requiring nominees to the Hall of Fame to receive at least 75 percent of the votes cast to qualify for induction. Previously, the leading vote-getter in each of the four categories, trainer, jockey, contemporary male and contemporary female, was inducted. Zito was the only nominee in the flat racing division to receive the required percentage.
A total of 163 ballots were mailed to Hall of Fame voters.
To be eligible for consideration as a nominee, a trainer must be licensed for 25 years, an active jockey must have ridden for 15 years and a horse must be retired for five years. In 2006, the minimum requirement for eligibility for a jockey moves to 20 years.