04/25/2016 10:13AM

Zenyatta, Rachel Alexandra, Asmussen, Dominguez elected to Hall of Fame

Barbara D. Livingston
Zenyatta became the only female horse to win the Breeders' Cup Classic in 2009.

The outstanding female racehorses Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta, both of whom were named Horse of the Year during their careers, along with jockey Ramon Dominguez and trainer Steve Asmussen – who prepared Rachel Alexandra for her celebrated victories over males in the Preakness, Haskell, and Woodward – make up the 2016 induction class to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, it was announced Monday.

Not landing in the top four was jockey Victor Espinoza, who last year won the Triple Crown aboard American Pharoah and is a three-time winner of the Kentucky Derby. There are 10 jockeys who have won the Derby three times. The other nine are in the Hall of Fame.

Under the Hall of Fame’s rules, only the top four vote getters among the 10 finalists get in. That made this year’s ballot particularly challenging for the 188-member voting panel since the list of candidates was particularly strong.

Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, Dominguez, and Asmussen outpolled six other finalists – Espinoza, fellow jockeys Garrett Gomez and Craig Perret, the horses English Channel and Kona Gold, and trainer David Whiteley. Voters were allowed to choose any combination of horses, jockeys, or trainers.

The induction ceremonies are scheduled for Aug. 12 in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., where the Hall of Fame is located.

Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, and Dominguez were on the ballot for the first time. Asmussen was back on the ballot after first making it in 2014, only to be removed that year by the Hall of Fame’s executive committee, citing at the time investigations into Asmussen after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals released a video, in concert with The New York Times, alleging that Asmussen mistreated horses.

Authorities in Kentucky and New York – where incidents contained in the video allegedly were taped – launched investigations. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission completed its investigation in January 2015 and brought no charges against Asmussen, saying the allegations “had neither a factual or scientific basis.”

But because the New York State Gaming Commission had yet to complete its investigation as of one year ago, the executive committee’s decision to keep Asmussen off the ballot in 2014 remained in effect in 2015. Results of the New York investigation were finally announced in November. Asmussen was fined for minor transgressions, but the most serious charges were deemed unfounded. The executive committee’s edict against Asmussen was then lifted.