08/10/2011 2:39PM

Hall of Fame: Sky Beauty leads trio of classy females

Barbara D. Livingston
Sky Beauty, with Mike Smith up, wins the 1993 Acorn as part of her championship year at 3.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Allen Jerkens beat Kelso with Beau Purple, and, famously here at Saratoga, knocked off Secretariat with Onion, but ask him who the best horse is that he ever trained, and he’ll quickly answer Sky Beauty.

“She’s in front of all of them,” he said at his Saratoga barn on Wednesday morning. “Devil His Due, Beau Purple, Missy Mirage, and Classy Mirage, November Snow. She was sheer class.”

And that class is at long-last being rewarded on Friday. Sky Beauty, who won 15 of 21 starts during her career, and recorded nine Grade 1 victories, on Friday morning will be among the 2011 inductees into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. Joining her will be two more outstanding contemporary females – Open Mind and Safely Kept – as well as trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.

Three others – the horse Duke of Magenta, trainer Matthew Byrnes, and jockey Shelby “Pike” Barnes – were chosen by the historic review committee and also will be inducted.

The ceremony begins at 10:30 a.m. at the Humphrey S. Finney Fasig-Tipton Sales Pavilion. Seating is free and available on a first-come basis. Randy Moss, the television racing analyst, is the master of ceremonies. Celebrity chef Bobby Flay is the keynote speaker. The ceremony will be televised live by HRTV.

There has been a wealth of top-class females to grace American racing the past quarter-century, but, until recently, the Hall of Fame allowed only one per year to get in. But a change in voting rules allowed three to get in this year. Sky Beauty was part of that backlog, something Jerkens, a Hall of Famer himself, said he recognized and accepted.

“You could never complain, because the ones that got in deserved to get in,” he said.

Sky Beauty deserved it, too. At age 3, she swept the New York filly Triple Crown - the Acorn, Mother Goose, and Coaching Club American Oaks – then added the Alabama for good measure.

“She was great, no question about it,” Jerkens said. “And, like all great horses, she won some when she might not have been at her tops.”

Like Sky Beauty, Open Mind won the filly Triple Crown and the Alabama, and added the Kentucky Oaks that year, too. Her victory in the Alabama was her 10th straight, seven in Grade 1 races. At 2, she won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. Open Mind, trained by D. Wayne Lukas, was the Eclipse Award winner of her division at both 2 and 3.

Safely Kept was a brilliant sprinter who won 24 of 31 starts, including the 1990 Breeders’ Cup Sprint, for trainer Alan Goldberg. She was the champion sprinter in 1989, when she won 8 of 9 but finished second in the BC Sprint.

Hollendorfer is the fourth-winningest trainer of all-time, with 5,990 wins as of Wednesday morning. He is best known currently as the trainer of the champion filly Blind Luck, one of three Kentucky Oaks winners he has trained.

Duke of Magenta, a winner of 15 of 19 starts, won 11 of 12 starts at age 3, including the Preakness, Belmont, and Travers.

Byrnes, who had his greatest success in the late 19th Century, trained such greats as Salvator and Firenze, a mare who won 47 of 82 starts.

Barnes in 1888 won 206 races, becoming the first jockey to win 200 races in a year. He was the leading jockey in 1889, too.