SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame on Friday inducted jockeys Victor Espinoza, Javier Castellano and Garrett Gomez, trainer Tom Voss, and the horses Goldikova and Good Night Shirt. Some notes and quotes about the Class of 2017:
Major achievements: Swept 2015 Triple Crown on American Pharoah; won Kentucky Derby and Preakness on both War Emblem (2002) and California Chrome (2014).
The easygoing Espinoza grew up as the 11th of 12 children on his family’s dairy farm in Mexico. As a boy he was terrified of horses “because they were such angry, huge animals.” As a teenager he drove a bus on the chaotic streets of Mexico City. “It’s a lot easier riding horses than being in that traffic.” Oldest jockey (43) and only Hispanic to win the Triple Crown. He appeared on “Dancing With the Stars,” which former race caller Tom Durkin called “not such a thrill.”
Major achievements: Record-tying four consecutive Eclipse Awards (2013-16) as nation’s leading jockey; won a record fifth Travers in 2015 on Keen Ice, upsetting American Pharoah; two Preakness victories; season earnings mark of $28.1 million in 2015.
The low-key Castellano, 39, is renowned for working out perfect trips. The lyric “You’re where you should be all the time” fits him. Brilliant on turf, where he often teams with champion trainer Chad Brown. Fellow Venezuelan and Hall of Fame rider Ramon Dominguez: “It’s been said that you can’t succeed at something you do not love, and Javier Castellano has the passion, tremendous focus and dedication.”
GARRETT GOMEZ (1972-2016)
Major achievements: Two Eclipse Awards; 13 Breeders’ Cup victories; led nation in earnings four straight years (2006-09); record 76 stakes wins in 2007.
Gomez, a special talent but a troubled soul, battled substance abuse for much of his 25-year career. He died last December of what was ruled an accidental overdose of methamphetamine, four years after the publication of “The Garrett Gomez Story: A Jockey’s Journey Through Addiction and Salvation.” His most famous win, on Blame in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic, upset many because it was the beloved mare Zenyatta’s only loss in 20 starts.
“When he was in diapers, the gate crew would hold him up so he could see the races,” said his father, ex-jockey Louie Gomez. “He just loved the racetrack life.”
THOMAS VOSS (1950-2014)
Major achievements: Maryland-based trainer had 706 wins, including 394 steeplechases; $8.68 million jumps earnings rank third all-time.
Voss’ 9-year-old gelding John’s Call won two Grade I flat races (Sword Dancer, Turf Classic) in 2000. His front-running Slip Away won the 2010 steeplechase Eclipse.
“Tom loved to intimidate people,” trainer Jack Fisher said. “He knew he was doing it and he loved doing it. But he loved his horses. You could call him at 10 o’clock at night and he’d be down at the barn giving them carrots. He liked horses more than he liked people.”
Major achievements: Amazon queen won three consecutive Breeders’ Cup Miles (2008-10); champion turf female in 2009, 2010; 14 Grade I/Group I stakes wins, a record for a European-based female, including nine over males.
Goldikova was foaled in Ireland, raised in France and dominated everywhere, winning 17 of 27 starts, all with jockey Olivier Peslier, and earning $7.17 million. She wasn’t big or physically striking, but her electric acceleration dazzled. “I never saw a horse that could do so much over a career,” her trainer, Freddy Head, said. “She was something special.”
GOOD NIGHT SHIRT
Major achievements: Eight Grade I wins; 2007 and 2008 Eclipse champion is only the third steeplechaser to earn more than $1 million.
Good Night Shirt struggled on the flat before coming into his own over jumps as a 6-year-old. “He was a big clown as a young horse,” trainer Jack Fisher said, “but as he got older he got better and better. When he got going, he was a big chestnut machine.”