05/28/2007 11:00PM

Eight members chosen for Hall of Fame

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Michael J. Marten/Horsephotos
This year's eight-member class for the Hall of Fame includes 1997 champion 3-year-old Silver Charm.

After several years in which precious few members were inducted into the Hall of Fame, the Hall decided that eight was enough in 2007. Eight people and horses - including jockey Jose Santos, trainer John Veitch, and champion horses Mom's Command and Silver Charm - were announced on Tuesday by the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame as its newest members.

In addition, three more people and one horse - jockey John Sellers, trainers Henry Forrest and Frank McCabe, and the horse Swoon's Son - were chosen as Hall of Famers by the Hall's 12-member Historic Review Committee, which considers candidates who have not been active for more than 25 years. Forrest and McCabe tied among the committee's voters, so both got in.

All eight will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., on Aug. 6, at the Fasig-Tipton Sales Pavilion. This is the largest incoming class since 1978, when nine were inducted.

Santos, Veitch, Mom's Command, and Silver Charm were chosen first in their respective categories by the 177 Hall of Fame voters, out of 186 who returned ballots. The Hall of Fame does not announce vote totals, only winners.

Santos beat out finalists Randy Romero and Alex Solis. Santos, 46, was the nation's leading rider in purse earnings from 1986 through 1989, and was the Eclipse Award-winning jockey in 1988, when he set a record for purse earnings of $14,856,214. In recent years, Santos won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2003 with the popular Funny Cide.

"This is probably the highlight of my career," Santos, a native of Chile, said Tuesday on a conference call. "I don't have words to describe it. I came to America with $2,000 in my pocket, and a suitcase. After 24 years, I'm in the Hall of Fame. It's a great achievement."

Santos broke his back in an accident at Aqueduct in February, but said he is hopeful of returning to a career that has seen him win 4,083 races, with purse earnings of his mounts totaling $187,255,105.

"Right now, I'm doing real good," he said. "I've been in rehab for two weeks. I have to wait another 14 weeks to see where it's going. I'm 46 years old. I'm in great shape. I definitely want to ride again."

In addition to Funny Cide, top horses ridden by Santos include Eclipse Award winners Chief Bearhart, Criminal Type, Fleet Indian, Fly So Free, Manila, Meadow Star, Rubiano, and Steinlen. Santos has won the Jockey Club Gold Cup three times, including with Funny Cide, and has won seven Breeders' Cup races.

Veitch, 61, retired from training in 2003 and is now the chief state steward in Kentucky, but during his training career he was known for his great success with Calumet Farm and then Darby Dan Farm. He trained four champions - Before Dawn, Davona Dale, Our Mims, and Sunshine Forever - but is probably best known for training Alydar, the runner-up to Affirmed in all three Triple Crown races in 1978. Veitch also won the 1985 Breeders' Cup Classic with Proud Truth.

Since he spent the bulk of his career as a private trainer, and with a smaller barn than most trainers, Veitch emphasized quality over quantity. He won 410 races from 2,340 starters, and his horses earned $20,097,920.

Veitch beat out fellow finalists Gary Jones and Robert Wheeler.

Veitch joins his father, the late trainer Syl Veitch, who was inducted in 1977.

"For me to join him, it's an overwhelming honor," Veitch said.

The Veitches are the eighth family with multiple members in the Hall of Fame, joining the Burches (trainers William, Preston, and Elliott), the Hirsches (trainers Max and William), the Joneses (trainers Ben and Jimmy), the Smithwicks (jockey Paddy and trainer Mikey), the Van Bergs (trainers Marion and Jack), the Walshes (trainer Michael and jockey Tommy), and the Winfreys (trainers Carey and Bill).

Silver Charm, the champion 3-year-old of 1997, was a fabulous, internationally accomplished racehorse. He won 12 of 24 starts, including the Derby, Preakness, and Dubai World Cup, and earned $6,944,369, all for trainer Bob Baffert and owners Bob and Beverly Lewis. He currently is at stud in Japan.

Beverly Lewis said going halfway around the world to win the Dubai World Cup "felt like winning the Olympics."

Silver Charm outpolled male horse finalists Best Pal and Manila.

Mom's Command was the champion 3-year-old filly of 1985, when she swept that year's Acorn Stakes, Mother Goose Stakes, Coaching Club American Oaks, and Alabama Stakes. She won 11 times in 16 starts and earned $902,972.

She beat a star-studded group of female finalists that included Inside Information, Silverbulletday, and Sky Beauty.

Mom's Command, trained by Ned Allard, was bred and owned by Peter Fuller, and usually was ridden by Fuller's daughter, Abby. Mom's Command was euthanized on Feb. 3 at Fuller's farm in New Hampshire. She was 25.

Forrest, who died in 1975 at age 69, won the Derby and Preakness in 1966 with Kauai King and in 1968 with Forward Pass, who was awarded first place in the Derby on the disqualification of Dancer's Image, owned by Fuller. At the time of his death, Forrest held the career record for victories at Churchill Downs (271) and Keeneland (153). Veitch knew Forrest, who was a contemporary of his father.

"He was one of those old-timers who had no other life," Veitch said. "He didn't golf, he didn't fish. Horses and the racetrack took up every waking moment."

McCabe, who died in 1924, was a prominent trainer in the late 1800s and early 1900s. He won three consecutive Belmont Stakes (1886-88), a feat unsurpassed for nearly 100 years until Woody Stephens won five straight in the 1980s. McCabe also won the Travers three times. McCabe trained Hall of Fame horses Hanover, Kingston, and Miss Woodford.

Sellers, 69, rode from 1955 to 1977 and is best known for winning the 1961 Derby and Preakness with Hall of Famer Carry Back. Sellers led the nation in wins, and was second in purse earnings that year. His other major race wins included the Belmont Stakes, Blue Grass Stakes, Kentucky Oaks, San Juan Capistrano Handicap, Travers Stakes, and Whitney Handicap. Sellers currently lives near Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla., where he is a bloodstock agent.

Swoon's Son was a top-class horse for four seasons during the 1950s, when he won 30 of 51 starts. Based in the Midwest, he won 22 stakes, including the Arlington Futurity at 2, the American Derby, Arlington Classic, and Clark Handicap at 3, and the Equipoise Mile at ages 4 and 5. He was bred and owned by E. Gay Drake and trained by Lex Wilson.