08/08/2004 11:00PM

McGaughey joins the club

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Shug McGaughey thanked the Phipps family, for whom he trained 54 stakes winners.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - The themes of family, loyalty, and perseverance permeated the Humphrey S. Finney sales pavilion on Monday morning, as six inductees, including trainer Shug McGaughey and jockey Kent Desormeaux, took their place in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.

The other inductees were the great black jockey Jimmy Winkfield, the mares Bowl of Flowers and Flawlessly, and Skip Away, the 1998 Horse of the Year.

McGaughey, 53, in a classy, poignant speech that made careful note of the many people who have guided him throughout his career, saved his most heartfelt thanks for the Phipps family, for whom he has trained 54 stakes winners, including six Breeders' Cup winners, over 20 years.

"My deepest debt of gratitude always has been and always will be to the Phipps family," said McGaughey, who was introduced by Ogden Mills "Dinny" Phipps, the chairman of the The Jockey Club. "My affiliation with the Phipps family is one of the great highlights of my life. I wouldn't be here without them."

McGaughey cited Phipps's late father, Ogden, who owned Easy Goer and Personal Ensign.

"When Personal Ensign won the Breeders' Cup, and when Easy Goer won the Belmont, I was much happier for Mr. Phipps than myself," he said.

Dinny Phipps cited McGaughey for the scores of stakes winners McGaughey has trained for his family and also for "the exceptional care for each and every horse you've got in your shed row."

"Thanks for the beautiful introduction - I hardly recognize myself," McGaughey said as he took the podium.

"When you're honored for doing something you love, it's especially meaningful for me," McGaughey said.

Desormeaux, 34, thanked his parents for having "a passion for horses."

"Our whole backyard was nothing but a training ground for being a jockey," said Desormeaux.

Desormeaux was introduced by family friend Bill Stubblefield, who described himself as "the unofficial, unauthorized, unapproved chairman of the board of the Kent Desormeaux fan club."

Stubblefield said that children should strive to be like Desormeaux, then jokingly added that because of Desormeaux's height, "the average American kid can do that by the fifth grade."

Winkfield, whose induction was long overdue and was brought about by the historical review committee, is one of only four jockeys to have ridden consecutive winners of the Kentucky Derby - His Eminence in 1901 and Alan-A-Dale in 1902. He won more than 2,500 races, mostly in Europe, where he went in 1904.

His daughter, Liliane Winkfield Casey, accepted her late father's award.

"His life was very colorful. He had his ups and downs," Casey said of Winkfield, who was in Russia for the Bolshevik revolution and in France when Germany invaded during World War II. "Now, through the Hall of Fame committee, he has risen to the top, and we thank you from the bottom of our heart."

Casey was introduced by author Ed Hotaling, who is writing a book on Winkfield and already has published the book "The Great Black Jockeys."

"Jimmy's induction might encourage greater interest in the African-American contribution to horse racing," Hotaling said to a standing-room-only crowd that was almost all white.

Skip Away, this year's choice from the contemporary male horse category, joined the Hall of Fame one year after the induction of his late trainer, Sonny Hine. Carolyn Hine, Sonny's widow and Skip Away's owner, accepted for the runner she affectionately referred to as "Skippy."

"He put a smile on my face and a song in my heart," Hine said in a touching, three-minute speech. "He was an extension of the love Sonny and I had. They say lightning doesn't strike twice in the same place, but it certainly has in my life."

Hine was introduced by Gene Stevens, the publisher of Post Time U.S.A., whose rambling, nine-minute introduction elicited a Bronx cheer from the crowd when he finally finished.

Ed Bowen, the chairman of the Hall of Fame committee, joked that Stevens "overcame his natural reticence to be photographed" in order to make the presentation.

Flawlessly, the outstanding turf mare who was the greatest runner sired by Triple Crown winner Affirmed, was the contemporary female horse inductee. The award was accepted by Patrice Wolfson, who campaigned Flawlessly and Affirmed with her husband, Louis, under their Harbor View Farm.

"My husband is suffering from Alzheimer's," Wolfson began, eliciting an audible gasp from the crowd. "Last year, we took a trip to Saratoga to see the Affirmed exhibit. I said next year, I know it, his daughter will be in the Hall of Fame, and here we are.

"We're going to have a private moment later at the Hall of Fame," Wolfson said, choking up as she clutched Flawlessly's bronze plaque. "I'm going to give this to him, hug him, and remember the wonderful moments that have come into our lives."

Wolfson was introduced by bloodstock agent John Williams, who has been a long-time friend and adviser to the Wolfsons.

Bowl of Flowers, a two-time champion in 1960-61, was another choice of the historic review committee. Her award was accepted by her Hall of Fame trainer, Elliott Burch, whose father and grandfather are also in the Hall of Fame.

Burch was introduced by Mike Kane, the president of the National Turf Writers Association, who had the unenviable task of coming up after Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas delivered a dynamic keynote address.

"There's an old vaudeville saying that you should never go on after children and animals. I think you'll have to add D. Wayne Lukas," Kane said.

Lukas's speech began with a nod toward the up-from-the-bootstraps stories of Hall of Fame jockeys Pat Day and Angel Cordero Jr., then veered toward a motivational speech imploring audience members to "make a complete and total commitment" to everything they do and to be a "better parent, leader of the community, trainer, or rider."

"If you don't take risks in life, you'll miss some of life's passion," Lukas said. "One thing will keep you going, and that's simply your attitude. You have a choice to make early every day. Make it the right one."

Lukas came back around to close with an aside to this year's nominees.

In remarks similar to those he made at his own induction as a trainer in 1999, Lukas said: "Now, whenever champions gather, stand tall and say, 'I belong.' "