03/03/2010 11:12AM

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."