08/15/2012 12:03PM

Jockey Paul Frey and trainer Wayne Branch among those being inducted into Washington Racing Hall of Fame


AUBURN, Wash. – Jockey Paul Frey and trainer Wayne Branch – legendary collaborators during the heyday of Northwest Thoroughbred racing – will be honored posthumously Saturday at Emerald Downs with induction into the Washington Racing Hall of Fame.

Frey, who died in January at age 73, rode 2,479 winners in a 20-year career that began in the early 1950s. Some 500 of those winners were saddled by Branch.

Frey’s career reached its zenith in 1966, when he rode 115 winners in 68 days at Longacres, but one of his career highlights came three years earlier, when he steered California Derby hero On My Honor to a fourth-place finish in the 1963 Kentucky Derby. Frey had two six-win days at Longacres.

Branch was known as “The Master” when he dominated the trainer standings at Longacres, winning five titles during a seven-year span starting in 1959. He claimed the good sprinter Lak Nak in California and proceeded to win eight stakes races with the horse at Longacres. Frey was Lak Nak’s regular jockey.

“Paul was a great race-rider,” said Richard Wright, one of Frey’s contemporaries. “He never complained, never got agitated with his agent, he just went about his business. He was a great human being to be around. He was the one of the best I’ve ever seen in the Northwest, if not the best. He’d help young riders out; there was no jealousy if he lost a horse to another rider. He was just very, very professional, and beyond that, he was a great friend.”

Also being honored in the 2012 Hall of Fame class are Hilco Scamper, the Washington horse of the year as a 2-year-old in 1985; Rings a Chime, a two-time state champion and 2000 Kentucky Oaks runner-up; and breeder George Newell, whose Newellhurst Farm produced a slew of outstanding runners from the 1940s through the 1960s. Among his many stakes winners was Collaborator, who in 1958 became the last horse to win the Longacres Derby and the Longacres Mile in the same year.

Hilco Scamper was one of the fastest horses in state history. Trained by Mike Chambers for breeders John and Mary Roche, he won his debut at Longacres by 15 lengths during a remarkable juvenile year that included victories in the Grade 2 Sapling at Monmouth and the Grade 2 Juvenile Championship at Hollywood Park, both with Gary Stevens aboard. Overall, Hilco Scamper finished first or second in 24 of 34 starts and earned $514,238.

Also Saturday, Emerald Downs’s vice president Jack Hodge will be recognized with a lifetime achievement award for his contributions to Washington racing.