04/04/2004 11:00PM

Flawlessly gets fifth shot to make Hall of Fame


Flawlessly, the champion grass mare of 1992 and 1993, was named a Hall of Fame finalist for the fifth year in a row on Monday.

Flawlessly's candidacy was announced by the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., along with 12 other candidates in four categories: male horse, female horse, jockey, and trainer. Although the Hall of Fame's rules are set up to present three finalists in a category each year, the Hall's nominating committee reached a four-way tie to name jockey finalists, according to officials of the Hall.

The finalists are:

* Male Horse: Lure, Manila, Skip Away

* Female Horse: Flawlessly, Mom's Command, Sky Beauty

* Jockey: Kent Desormeaux, Eddie Maple, Randy Romero, Jose Santos

* Trainer: Claude R. "Shug" McGaughey, John Veitch, Nick Zito

The inductees will be determined by a vote of 140 voting members of the racing media, and announced on May 25. The induction ceremony is scheduled for Aug. 9 at the museum in Saratoga Springs.

The Hall will also name an inductee on May 25 from a list of horses who raced more than 25 years ago. That inductee is determined by a committee separate from the Hall voting process.

Flawlessly leads a group that is familiar to many Hall voters. Nine of the 13 candidates this year have appeared on the ballot in the past.

Among Flawlessly's competition, both Mom's Command, a winner of New York's filly Triple Crown in 1985, and Sky Beauty, the champion older female of 1994, are making their third appearances as finalists.

In the male category, the nominations include two newcomers - Lure, the winner of back-to-back runnings of the Breeders' Cup Mile, in 1992-93, and Skip Away, the 1998 Horse of the Year. The other finalist, 1986 turf champion Manila, has appeared as a finalist four times.

Horses are eligible to be named a finalist five years after being retired. Jockeys are eligible after riding for 15 years, and trainers are eligible 25 years after taking out a license.

Santos, winner of last year's Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes and a four-time leading rider by money earned, is the one newcomer on the list of jockey finalists. Desormeaux, winner of an Eclipse Award as both an apprentice and journeyman, is appearing for the second time, along with Randy Romero, the regular rider of champions Personal Ensign and Go for Wand. Eddie Maple, the New York mainstay who rode Devil's Bag, Temperence Hill, and Forty Niner, is appearing for the third time.

McGaughey and Zito are appearing for the first time on the ballot for trainers. McGaughey has trained eight champions and eight Breeders' Cup winners. Zito has trained two Kentucky Derby winners and one Preakness winner. The other finalist, John Veitch, has trained four champions and is appearing for the second time.