SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Another thoroughbred racing honour for Canadian-based trainer Roger Attfield.
The 72-year-old from Nobleton, Ont., was elected to the National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame south of the border in his first year on the ballot. Also named were jockey John Velazquez, 2004 horse of the year Ghostzapper — owned by Frank Stronach of Newmarket, Ont. — and trainer Robert Wheeler. The induction ceremony will be held Aug. 10 at Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Attfield was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 1999.
"I was so proud to be inducted into the Canadian Hall of Fame at the minimum age of 60," Attfield said. "Now to be honoured to go into the U.S. hall as well when I have so much pride and respect for the sport means a great deal to me.
"I am absolutely ecstatic, especially to be inducted at the same time as so many people I have respected over the years — Johnny Velazquez rode for me, and Frank Stronach I have known for years, and admire and respect him. It is a wonderful honour and I am very touched by it."
Attfield has won 1,727 career races, including 369 stakes events, and amassed over $88-million in purse earnings.
He has won the Sovereign Award as Canada's top trainer a record eight times and has captured a record-tying eight Queen's Plate races. He has won three Canadian Triple Crowns, with Izvestia, With Approval and Peteski.
And eight times Attfield has conditioned Canada's horse of the year.
In November, Attfield won his first Breeders' Cup race with 27-1 longshot Perfect Shirl.
Attfield is only the second trainer to be recognized by both the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame and the National Museum of Racing, the other being Lucien Laurin, who trained Secretariat.
"On behalf of all of us at Woodbine, we are enormously proud of Roger Attfield and his election to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame," Nick Eaves, the president and chief executive officer of Woodbine Entertainment Group, said in a statement. "There is no one more deserving of this honour than a Woodbine icon who has made Canada and Canadian horse racing respected across the world through his numerous accomplishments."
Added John Stapleton, the president of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame: "Canada has known for decades that Roger Attfield stands at the very pinnacle of his craft. We congratulate our Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame member on this singular achievement."
Velazquez has won 4,803 races, including 733 stakes and earned more than $263 million in purse money since guiding Rodas to the winner's circle at El Comandante in 1990. He was American racing's top jockey in 2004 and 2005 and has dominated the New York circuit, leading all riders in wins from 2001 through 2004 and taking 22 riding titles at the state's three tracks, including a record 65-win season at Saratoga Race Course in 2004.
The 40-year-old Velazquez, a native of Puerto Rico, won last year's Kentucky Derby aboard Animal Kingdom and took the 2007 Belmont Stakes with Rags to Riches. He also has nine Breeders' Cup wins and has notched other Grade 1 victories in the Travers and Kentucky Oaks, among others.
Ghostzapper won nine of 11 career starts and earned more than $3.4 million. In 2004, when he was American racing's top horse and champion older horse, he was 4-for-4, including a win in the 1 1/4-mile Breeders' Cup Classic in stakes-record time 1:59.02. The Bobby Frankel-trained Ghostzapper also won the Woodward Stakes and Iselin Handicap.
Wheeler won 1,336 races over nearly six decades starting in 1938, conditioning runners for prominent owners like C.V. Whitney, Greentree Stable and Nelson Bunker Hunt. He won 56 stakes races and had the 1982 champion older female with Track Robbery.
In 1959 and 1960, Wheeler's West Coast string included Tompion, winner of the Santa Anita Derby, Blue Grass, and Malibu. He also trained Silver Spoon and Bug Brush, winner of six stakes at the age of 4 and who set a world record the day she beat males Hillsdale and Terrang in the San Antonio Stakes. Wheeler died in 1992.