08/01/2003 11:00PM

Hall of Fame a tribute to Hine's career


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - The induction of Sonny Hine into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame on Monday is a tribute to a training career that lasted more than four decades. As far as Carolyn Hine - Sonny's wife - is concerned, it's a tribute to a lifetime spent in the Thoroughbred industry.

"He gave his life for this industry,' said Carolyn Hine, who was married to Sonny for 38 years before his death on March 17, 2000. "That's why I wanted this so much for him. It's payback. Sonny didn't want the accolades; he wanted everything for his horses and for me.''

Sonny Hine will become the 77th trainer enshrined into the Hall of Fame. Hine will be joined by jockey Mike Smith and equine stars Precisionist and Dance Smartly. The induction ceremonies begin at 10:30 a.m. Eastern and will be held at the Fasig-Tipton Sales Pavilion on East Avenue. Admission is free and open to the public.

Hine is best known for training Skip Away, a horse he bought for his wife as a birthday present for $22,500. Skip Away went on to win 16 stakes and $9,616,360, and was voted the Eclipse Award as the nation's best 3-year-old in 1996 and best handicap horse in 1997-98. Skip Away was also voted Horse of the Year in 1998.

Sonny Hine trained more than 1,200 winners in his career, including the 1981 Sprint champion Guilty Conscience. Hine won stakes with 46 horses, including Skip Away's sire, Skip Trial, Cojak, Amber Pass, Bet Big, Norquestor and Technology.

"Skip Away put a smile on my face and a song in my heart,'' said Carolyn Hine, who has a part-interest in four horses sired by Skip Away and one by Carson City. "But, I attribute that to my husband. I respected the way he crafted his profession.''

Mike Smith rode Skip Away to victory in the 1997 Breeders' Cup Classic, one of more than 4,100 victories in his 20-year career. Smith, 37, enjoyed some of his biggest moments at Saratoga.

He was the leading rider here for three straight meets beginning in 1991. He won the 1994 Travers aboard Holy Bull and the 1998 Travers on Coronado's Quest. Two days after that '98 Travers win, however, Smith was injured in a spill and his career took a downward turn.

Smith, a two-time Eclipse Award winner, eventually moved his tack to Southern California, and last year completed his comeback by winning Breeders' Cup races aboard Vindication (Juvenile) and Azeri (Distaff). Azeri was voted Horse of the Year.

Precisionist will be inducted in the contemporary male category. Campaigned by his breeder, Fred Hooper, Precisionist won stakes from six furlongs to 10 furlongs. At one mile, he set track records at Hollywood Park and Del Mar. He was the 1985 Eclipse Award winning sprinter. Precisionist won 20 of 46 starts and banked $3,485,398.

In 1991, Dance Smartly became the first filly to win the Canadian Triple Crown. Owned and bred by Ernie Samuel's Sam-Son Farm, Dance Smartly won 12 of 17 starts and earned $3,263,835. She was the Canadian Horse of the Year in 1991.