02/22/2008 1:00AM

Nafzger, Prado among 12 Hall finalists


Seven horses, three jockeys, and two trainers - including such contemporary stars as trainer Carl Nafzger and jockey Edgar Prado - are the finalists for the 2008 induction class of the National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame, the Hall announced on Friday.

Nafzger, who won the Kentucky Derby for the second time last year, and Bob Wheeler, a trainer based in California before his death in 1992, were the lone finalists among trainers. Prado will be up against another active rider, Alex Solis, and the retired Randy Romero.

There were four finalists among female horses - Inside Information, Open Mind, Silverbulletday, and Sky Beauty.

The male horse category had three finalists - Best Pal, Manila, and Tiznow, the only horse to twice win the Breeders' Cup Classic.

The number of finalists in each category differs because the Hall of Fame's rules allow for as few as two and as many as four finalists in all four categories.

The 12 finalists were determined by vote of the 16-member Hall of Fame nominating committee, which considered a total of 81 candidates. To gain entry on the final ballot, a horse or person had to receive at least nine votes. Committee members could vote for as few or as many candidates as they desired.

Edward L. Bowen, a past editor of The Blood-Horse magazine and currently president of the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, chairs the committee.

Ballots will go out early next month to approximately 180 Hall of Fame voters, who can choose only one candidate in each category. The one who receives the most votes in each category will be announced as a Hall of Famer in April, with induction ceremonies scheduled for Aug. 4 in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., where the Hall of Fame is located.

In addition, the Hall's historic review committee is scheduled to meet next month, and that group often comes up with a horse, trainer, and/or jockey overlooked in past years. If the historic review committee chooses any inductees, they also would be announced in April.

Nafzger won the Derby in 1990 with Unbridled, then again last year with Street Sense. Both those horses also won Breeders' Cup races.

Wheeler had his best years in the late 1950s and early 1960s, when he trained such outstanding runners as Silver Spoon, the champion 3-year-old filly of 1959. He also won an Eclipse Award with the older mare Track Robbery in 1982.

Prado, who recently won his 6,000th race, is best known as the jockey of 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro. Prado also stopped Smarty Jones's Triple Crown bid in 2004 by winning the Belmont Stakes with Birdstone.

Romero won 4,294 races, the most memorable victory aboard the unbeaten Personal Ensign in the 1988 Breeders' Cup Distaff.

Solis has won more than 4,500 races, including the 1986 Preakness with Snow Chief.