By US Racing Team
Can there be two unanimous selections to the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Class of 2021?
Maybe, maybe not, but there should be: 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah and seven-time Eclipse Award winning trainer Todd Pletcher.
Both were chosen as finalists in their first year of eligibility by the 15 members on the Museum’s Hall of Fame nominating committee. Five other racehorses, two trainers and one jockey also made the list of finalists, which was released on Feb. 25.
The other horses are Blind Luck, Game On Dude, Havre de Grace, Kona Gold, and Rags to Riches; the other trainers are Christophe Clement and Doug O’Neill; and the jockey is Corey Nakatani.
Any finalist receiving 50% of the vote plus one [last year, there were 167 voters] will be elected. Voters can vote for as many candidates as they want from the list of 10 finalists. To become a finalist, candidates were first required to receive two-thirds of the votes by the nominating committee.
The results will be announced on May 5; the induction ceremony [which will honor the 2020 inductees, too] is scheduled for Aug. 6 at the Fasig-Tipton Sales Pavilion in Saratoga Springs, New York. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, details on the ceremony are still to be determined.
Trainers must be licensed for 25 years to become eligible for consideration; jockeys must be licensed for 20 years; and horses must be retired for five years. All candidates must have been active within the past 25 years. Exceptions could made by the museum’s executive committee.
A bay colt bred in Kentucky by owner Zayat Stables, American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile—Littleprincessemma, by Yankee Gentleman), became racing’s first Triple Crown winner in 37 years when he swept the Kentucky Derby (G1), Preakness (G1), and Belmont Stakes (G1) in 2015 en route to Eclipse Awards for Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old male. Trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert and ridden by Hall of Famer Victor Espinoza, American Pharoah won the Eclipse Award for champion 2-year-old male in 2014 on the strength of Grade 1 victories in the Del Mar Futurity and FrontRunner Stakes. At 3, he won the Rebel Stakes (G2) and Arkansas
Derby (G1) prior to the Triple Crown. Following his Belmont victory, he won the Haskell Invitational (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). Overall, American Pharoah posted a record of 9-1-0 from 11 starts and earned $8,650,300.
The 52-year-old Pletcher has won 5,072 races [eighth all time] with record North American purse earnings of $400,647,175 in a career that began in 1996. In addition to his Eclipse Awards as top trainer, he’s a two-time Derby winner with Super Saver [2010) and Always Dreaming [2017) and a three0time Belmont winner with Rags to Riches , Palace Malice , and Tapwrit . He ranks fourth at the Breeders’ Cup in earnings [$21,508,030] and fifth in wins  and has won 699 graded stakes.
A native of Dallas, Pletcher has led all North American trainers in earnings 10 times. He has trained 11 Eclipse Award-winning horses — Hall of Famer Ashado, English Channel, Fleet Indian, Lawyer Ron, Left Bank, Rags to Riches, Shanghai Bobby, Speightstown, Wait a While, Uncle Mo, and Vino Rosso — and 20 horses that have earned more than $1.8 million. On the New York Racing Association circuit, Pletcher has won 16 leading trainer titles at Belmont, 14 at Saratoga, and six at Aqueduct. He has won 16 titles at Gulfstream, five at Keeneland, and two at Monmouth.
Chaired by Edward L. Bowen, the Hall of Fame nominating committee is comprised of Bowen, Steven Crist, Tom Durkin, Bob Ehalt, Tracy Gantz, Teresa Genaro, Jane Goldstein, Steve Haskin, Jay Hovdey, Tom Law, Neil Milbert, Jay Privman, John Sparkman, Michael Veitch, and Charlotte Weber.
The writing team at US Racing is comprised of both full-time and part-time contributors with expertise in various aspects of the Sport of Kings.