03/18/2003 12:00AM

Hall nominees announced


NEW YORK - Sky Beauty, Flawlessly, and Dance Smartly - three champion fillies who raced in the early 1990's - are among the annual nominees for the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

The three female horses, who won four Eclipse Awards among them, joined nominees in three other categories - male horse, jockey, and trainer - who were announced Tuesday by the Hall of Fame. The winners will be named on April 29 at Churchill Downs, and induction ceremonies will take place on Aug. 4 in Saratoga Springs.

The other nominees are jockeys Eddie Maple, Randy Romero, and Mike Smith; trainers Sonny Hine, Mel Stute, and John Veitch; and male horses Precisionist, Manila, and Ancient Title. Nominees were selected by a committee of 15 racing journalists. Winners are chosen by vote of 151 racing journalists.

Despite nearly overlapping racing careers, Sky Beauty, Flawlessly, and Dance Smartly dominated the filly and mare ranks from 1991 to 1994 without ever facing each other on the racecourse.

Dance Smartly, a daughter of Danzig bred by Sam-Son Farms, won the Breeders' Cup Distaff and the Canadian Triple Crown in 1991. After a brief campaign on turf, she was retired in the fall of 1992 with 12 wins from 17 career starts and $3,263,836 in earnings.

Flawlessly, a Harbor View Farm homebred who was put on turf for the first time after arriving in Charlie Whittingham's barn halfway through her 3-year-old year, was the champion turf mare in 1992 and 1993. During a memorable two-year span beginning in 1991, Flawlessly won 11 of 16 starts and finished second in four other races.

Sky Beauty, on the other hand, never raced on turf, but she was dominant on the dirt during her 3-year-old and 4-year-old campaign. In 1994, her only loss was a mystifying ninth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Distaff.

Among the male nominees, Ancient Title's career spanned seven years, from 1972 to 1978, and he had 24 wins from 57 starts. He placed in a Grade 1 race in every year of his career except for the first two.

Precisionist, a incredibly versatile and durable runner, raced from 1983 to 1986, winning the Breeders' Cup Sprint in 1985 after a four-month layoff. He returned to racing in 1988, but was not at the top of his game that year.

Manila won 12 of his 18 starts during a three-year career from 1985 to 1987. Like Flawlessly, Manila was initially campaigned on dirt, but his career blossomed on the grass. He had five Grade 1 wins on the turf, including the 1986 Breeders' Cup Turf and the 1987 Arlington Million.

Among trainers, Sonny Hine is most closely linked to Skip Away, the Horse of the Year in 1998, the champion older male horse in 1997, and the champion 3-year-old in 1996. John Veitch's best-known horse was Alydar, the star-crossed runner-up in every 1978 Triple Crown race. Mel Stute, still active at age 75, trained 1986 champion 3-year-old Snow Chief and 1986 2-year-old champion Brave Raj.

In the jockey category, Mike Smith won Eclipse Awards in 1993 and 1994. Romero, who is retired and currently battling health problems, was the regular rider of Personal Ensign and Go for Wand. Maple won 4,398 races during his career, including two Belmont Stakes.