While you could make an honest case for any of the ten finalists to be inducted into the Hall of Fame on August 9 at Saratoga, I think three should be absolute locks, with the other spot being a toss-up.
Invasor is the definition of a world-class thoroughbred. Winning 11 of his 12 career starts, Invasor displayed a wonderful ability to ship all around the world. Following his Triple Crown triumph in Uruguay, the Argentinian bred colt was sold to Sheik Hamdan and relocated to the United States. Victories in the Pimlico Special at Pimlico, Suburban Handicap at Belmont, Whitney Handicap at Saratoga and Jockey Club Gold Cup back at Belmont Park were only foreshadowing what was to come in the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic. On the first Saturday in November, Invasor proceeded to beat a star-studded field in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs, locking up the 2006 Horse of the Year title in the process. His victory in the 2007 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park added to his resume, while also preparing him for the final race of his fantastic career. Invasor would conclude his racing career with a victory in the 2007 Dubai World Cup, following a thrilling stretch duel with Premium Tap at Nad al Sheba Racecourse.
It could be argued that Ashado was one of the top 10-15 fillies of the past fifteen years – she won the Schuylerville, Spinaway and Demoiselle as a two-year old, only to follow that up with victories in the Fair Grounds Oaks, Kentucky Oaks, CCA Oaks, Cotillion and Breeders’ Cup Distaff as a three-year old. Add in victories in the Phipps, Beldame and Go For Wand as a four-year old, and you’ve got all the makings of a true HoF’er.
Lure was a top-notch grass horse out of Shug McGaughey’s barn in the early 1990’s. He is most famous for his back to back victories in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, but his other accomplishments shouldn’t go unnoticed. Lure notched the 1992 edition of the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct as a three-year old, as well as collecting multiple graded victories in his four and five-year old campaigns. These wins included the Turf Classic at Churchill Downs, as well as the Fourstardave Handicap and Baruch Handicap at Saratoga.
As far as the fourth and final inductee is concerned, I have a difficult time separating the bunch. If I had to choose one, I’d lean toward Chris Antley, simply because when he was on his game, there weren’t a handful of riders better than he. Add to that the story which goes along with his Triple Crown attempt on Charismatic and the dramatic events that followed, and he has as good a case as any to become inducted. Calvin Borel deserves a good amount of consideration, as well as Garrett Gomez, who I consider one of, if not the best, “big race rider” in the game.