08/05/2007 11:00PM

Four inducted by historic committee


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Membership in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame brought tears to the eyes of jockey John Sellers, who was one of four inductees to this year's class who were chosen by the Hall's Historic Review Committee, which considers candidates who have been inactive for more than 25 years.

Sellers was waiting offstage as Hall of Fame trainer T.J. Kelly introduced him at Monday's ceremonies by telling a story of a close finish between Carry Back, whom Sellers rode, and Globemaster, whom Kelly trained. According to Kelly, after Carry Back got up in the final yards to beat Globemaster, Sellers returned to the winner's circle, but before entering, called out to Kelly that he should be proud of his horse's effort.

"He had the most class of any race rider I've ever been around," said Kelly. "I remember him as a classy and serious young man."

Sellers dabbed at his eyes with a handkerchief, then came to the podium and said, "I thought I'd get through this without shedding a tear, but this is too much."

Sellers, 70, was best known for riding Carry Back, who won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 1961. He retired in 1977 with 2,797 victories. Sellers lives in Florida, where he is a bloodstock agent.

The other Historic Review inductees this year were the horse Swoon's Son, and the trainers Henry Forrest and Frank McCabe.

Swoon's Son: Small horse, big heart

Swoon's Son was a stalwart in the Midwest in the 1950s. He won 30 of 51 starts, including 22 stakes, among them the Arlington Futurity and Arlington Classic for trainer Lex Wilson. Turf, dirt, short or long, Swoon's Son won them all. As a 3-year-old, he beat Derby winner Needles in the American Derby, and two years later, he won his second consecutive Equipoise Mile while defeating Round Table.

He was introduced by Dave Erb, who rode Swoon's Son to many of his biggest victories. Jack Jones, the grandson of E. Gay Drake, who bred and owned Swoon's Son, accepted the award.

Swoon's Son, according to Jones, stood no more than 15-2 hands. "He was a small horse, but he had a big heart," Jones said.

Forrest's induction overdue, historians say

Forrest won the Kentucky Derby twice in a three-year period, with Kauai King in 1966 and Forward Pass in 1968, and at the time of his death in 1975 at age 67 was the winningest trainer at both Churchill Downs and Keeneland. For historians, his induction was long overdue.

"He was my boss, and my friend," said Bill Thayer, the senior vice president of Arlington Park, who started on the backside working for Forrest before turning to racetrack management. "My early years with Henry were not pleasant. He was a tough guy to work for. He was like Buster Millerick. It took a lot of cuss words to get his point across."

Thayer presented Forrest's plaque to Forrest's daughter Jennie Forrest Watkins and son Henry.

"Dad would be gratified to be among the colleagues he admired and respected," Watkins said.

McCabe's work with Tremont noted

McCabe, who died in 1924 at age 65, trained eight champions, including three horses that he has now joined in the Hall of Fame - Hanover, Kingston, and Miss Woodford.

In 1886, McCabe trained four champions, including Miss Woodford and the unbeaten 2-year-old Tremont. Bill Nack, the Eclipse Award-winning journalist who introduced McCabe, said Tremont raced nine times in the month of June of his 2-year-old year at the request of the demanding Dwyer brothers, who owned Tremont.

"Just keeping Tremont's head in the feed tub was a Hall-of-Fame performance," Nack said.

Margaret Powers, the widow of McCabe's grandson Frank Powers, accepted McCabe's plaque.

Past inductees acknowledged

One of the annual highlights of the Hall of Fame ceremony is having previous inductees come forward for a group photo. This year, those in attendance were jockeys Jerry Bailey, Steve Cauthen, Pat Day, Kent Desormeaux, Earlie Fires, Gary Stevens, Ron Turcotte, and Jorge Velasquez, and trainers Bobby Frankel, Leroy Jolley, Kelly, Richard Mandella, Shug McGaughey, Bill Mott, Jonathan Sheppard, and Nick Zito.

Kelly was walking with the aid of a cane. "I almost didn't pass the vet this morning," he said.

After the group photo was taken, Cauthen and Velasquez embraced and lingered to give photographers a chance to capture the two jockeys who rode Affirmed and Alydar in their celebrated Triple Crown duel of 1978.

Gerry named exemplar

Martha F. Gerry, best known as the owner of Forego, was announced on Monday as the Hall of Fame's newest exemplar of racing by Stella Thayer, president of the Hall of Fame.

Thayer said Gerry was the first so honored since 1991. She joins such outstanding racing supporters as Paul Mellon and C.V. Whitney. "It has been a pleasure and an honor to work for racing any way I could because I love it," Gerry said.

Gerry's day only got better. Her horse Chatain, racing for her Lazy F Ranch, won Monday's seventh race.