03/03/2010 12:12PM

Decking the Hall


A small but significant change is being made to the election procedures for the Racing Hall of Fame, with the likely result that a logjam among deserving fillies will be lessened -- and voters won't have to choose between Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta again in 2015.

In recent years, voters had to choose from nominees in each of four categories, electing precisely one male horse, one filly or mare, one trainer and one jockey each year. Starting this year, there will still be four inductees per year, but they can come from any category. Voters will be asked to make four choices from a pool of 8 to 10 candidates,and theoretically could elect two fillies and two jockeys, or four trainers, instead of one from each category.

The change falls short of the changes proposed by the Hall's Nominating Committee (of which I am a member), which had asked a variable number of inductees based on a threshhold level of voter approval, similar to the procedure used by the Baseball Hall of Fame. Still,the limited change will at least alleviate the current and coming glut of worthy filly candidates. In addition to a waiting list that includes Heavenly Prize, Life's Magic, Open Mind and Sky Beauty, the coming years will see the first-time eligibility of such distaff stars as Azeri, Ouija Board and Ashado, as well as Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta five years hence. Under the new system, those two could be inducted in the same class.

At the same time, there has been sentiment among some voters that there may not be five worthy newly-eligible male candidates over the next five years. Now there will be no obligation to induct one horse from each category. It will be interesting to see in a decade how the next 40 inductees break down. One of the objections frequently raised under the old system was that it was unlikely that each decade would produce precisely 10 males, 10 females, 10 jockeys and 10 trainers worthy of the Hall..

---Variety.com reports that Dustin Hoffman has been cast in the lead role in "Luck," the HBO horse-racing series scheduled to begin airing early next year. Anyone remember Hoffman's last role in a racetrack movie? (Answer below.)

"Luck" is being produced by David Milch, who raced Breeders' Cup winners Val Royal (2001 Mile) and Gilded Time (1992 Juvenile) and is better known for producing "NYPD Blue" and creating the HBO series "Deadwood" and "John From Cincinatti."

"We hope to go on the air in January of next year," Milch told DRF's Jay Privman in an interview last month. "We are going to start shooting in March. We'll shoot and then probably stop, fine tune, then go back. We'll be shooting at Santa Anita and then probably in Santa Clarita at the Autry Ranch, where we shot 'Deadwood.' " Tucker

Trivia answer: Hoffman was the voice of Tucker (right), a grumpy Shetland pony, in the underrated 2005 talking-animal movie "Racing Stripes." 

Diceman More than 1 year ago
In my last post, I meant to write: "RA will never beat Z going two turns. The RA Camp will never agree to meet Z for obvious reasons. RA simply has Distance and Gene Limitations!"
Jeff T. More than 1 year ago
Walt... As I've mentioned before, your knowledge of TV and the logistics of broadcasting have no bounds. Your suggestion above makes total sense. With regard to this topic, maybe the salvation for our beloved industry is to permit the TV networks to promote, televise, and TAKE BETS right from accountholder cellphones or cable boxes. What do you think and why haven't HRTV or TVG been successful?
blackseabass More than 1 year ago
Steve, I worked on Deadwood a couple of stints. The worst production in the history of film. Heres hoping Luck is better than Deadwood it sure as heck couldn't be worse. I liked racing stripes too but then as a track bum I like anything featuring 4 legged creatures running around an oval, even Zebras.
Woodridgephil More than 1 year ago
First: thank you, thankyou, thank you, for your p4 mention in the form on 3-7-10.Its so nice to know someone in your position is listening. You have always been a advocate for the bettors and i know i can speak for all the bloggers,WE LOVE YOU but not in a weird way.
Paul S More than 1 year ago
Thank you, Mr. Crist for your kind response to my earlier query. I just wish that the "racing powers" who read (uhh... they CAN read, right?) start realizing what ails racing, and why the fan base/handle is constantly shrinking. On a side note, I've also been on the bad side of situations like what Stewart just wrote about... my apologies to him. As to yesterday, wonder who saw the ride Bejarano gave 2-5 shot Blind Luck at Santa Anita? I bet the $500,000 PK4 there yesterday - instead of betting Aqueduct - and missed it because of Bejarano's "missing the hole." So much for the ***free square*** mentality in small fields, huh?
Euridice Mendez More than 1 year ago
I'm smelling product placement . . . On a serious note, Steve, how do you think the latest Paterson troubles will affect The Big A? You touched on it briefly in your column, but I'm wondering if we're going to have to go back to square one if/when he resigns.
Lewis Long More than 1 year ago
Racing Stripes? That movie was like "The Final Yard" with Martha Stewart in the role of Burt Reynolds ... that's why I loved it.
Patrick More than 1 year ago
@hialeah Life's Magic may have danced all the dances, but winning with some frequency matters. You can't excuse an 8-race losing streak just because they occurred in "Grade 1" races. What does that mean anyway? Sounds as if she wasn't really that much superior in the division outside of one afternoon at Aqueduct. And one thing unmentioned was that Lady's Secret had whipped her previously in the Ruffian that year, so they were essentially all square following the BC. Gulch is another one of those "danced every dance" types with 7 "G1s" under his belt, but he's another that's not necessarily HOF material.
teag More than 1 year ago
Wasn't expecting to see "underrated" and "talking-animal" in the same sentence, especially in Crist Blog.
Stewart More than 1 year ago
Hi Steve: Thank you for commenting in your March 5th column on the travesty that took place at Gulfstream last Saturday, when management took the last race off the turf only minutes before post time (even after running the preceeding race on the turf) without properly declaring it a non-betting or "all" race, thus totally sticking it to every bettor who had Pick 6, 4 or 3 tickets alive going into the race. I had three horses alive for the Pick 4, the favorite, 2nd choice and 5th choice in the wagering pre-surface change, which were paying between $1500 and $4500 for a $1 pick 4. The subsequent winner of the race, who was 15-1 at the time it was taken off the turf, won easily at 5-1 (he was hammered in the wagering after GP moved back post time by 9 minutes to "accomodate" the bettors). Going in, the horse had never even hit the board in 5 turf races and had likewise never hit the board in 4 synthetic races. However, in his only dirt race, he had finished a close 2nd in a key MSW at Hawthorne last Fall, a race where the 1st and 3rd place finishers had come back to win. Now dropping to a MD claimer, returning to the dirt and facing a bunch of stuck turf horses, he was a stickout and quite properly romped. Unfortunately, all of us multi-race bettors who had handicapped and bet the Pick 4 for a turf race never would have used him, which was the reason that the Pick 4 paid well over $5,000 for $1 with a 5-1 winner. What really bothers me, Steve, other than the fact that the race was not declared an "All" for purposes of the multi-race wagers, was the pathetic explanation offered by Gulfstream's President the next day. He claimed that the race couldn't be cancelled because it would have been unfair to the owners, trainers and jockeys who had prepared for the race. Of course, Mr. President "overlooked" as an obvious solution that the race could have simply been run as a non-wagering contest (something that had already happened twice earlier in the meet due to a gate malfunction and a loose horse), thus protecting the betting public while also allowing the horses to compete for the purse money. Of course, he failed to mention that the real reason this didn't occur was that Gulfstream had no intention of giving up the handle for a Saturday race, no matter how much the bettors got screwed in the process. In my opinion, this is yet another reason why there needs to be a national racing body that implements a uniform standard set of rules, so that Gulfstram can't have one set of wagering rules while NYRA has another (whoever would have thought that NYRA would be the benchmark for integrity on this issue).