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Jun 03, 2005

Zito headed to racing Hall of Fame


Saratoga Springs, NY (Sports Network) - Two-time Kentucky Derby winning trainer

 Nick Zito headlines the 2005 selections for the racing Hall of Fame.

Zito won the Kentucky Derby with Strike the Gold in 1991 and Go for Gin in 1994.

He then captured the Preakness Stakes with Louis Quatorze in 1996 and claimed

 the career Triple Crown last June with a Belmont Stakes victory from Birdstone.

The New York City native is joined in this year's Hall of Fame class by three

steeplechase stars -- jockey Thomas Walsh, trainer Sidney Watters Jr. and five-time

 champion Lonesome Glory.

The selections were announced Tuesday by the National Museum of Racing

president John von Stade. The induction ceremony is scheduled for August 8 in

Saratoga Springs.

Zito has recorded 1,410 victories -- through May 30 -- in a career that began in

 1972. He has 83 graded stakes wins and earnings of $69.3 million in purse money.

"It's very gratifying, but more important, I'm very humbled by it," Zito said in a

statement released by the Hall of Fame. "I don't know what else to say. I absolutely

really appreciate it. That's the main thing."

In addition to his Triple Crown victories, Zito has trained a pair of champion

 horses -- Storm Song in 1996 and Bird Town in 2003.

The 57-year-old has a talented crop of three-year-olds this spring, but he has come

up short in the first two legs of the 2005 Triple Crown. He saddled five starters for

 the Kentucky Derby, including favorite Bellamy Road, who finished a disappointing

 seventh. Three of Zito's horses also went in the Preakness, with Sun King the best

 of the bunch in fourth place.

The new voting rules for the Hall of Fame left Zito as the only flat-racing candidate

receiving the now-required 75-percent for induction. Previously, the top vote-getters

 in four categories -- trainer, jockey, contemporary male horse and contemporary

 female horse -- would be elected.

Among the nominated jockeys that did not receive the required percentage were

Jose Santos -- rider of 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Funny Cide --

and two-time Belmont Stakes winner Eddie Maple.

Silver Charm, who came up just short of a Triple Crown in 1997, Best Pal and

Silverbulletday were among the horses that did not receive enough votes for induction.

The steeplechase inductees are the first for the Hall of Fame since 1997. The committee

 for this division meets every other odd-numbered year and will not consider Hall

members again until 2009.

Walsh won 253 races during his 12-year steeplechase career and captured the

prestigious Grand National Steeplechase a record five consecutive years. He quit riding

 in 1967 at age 27 to turn to training, and the 65-year-old still operates a stable

based at Belmont Park.

Watters, who also trained flat-raced horses, led or shared the lead in steeplechase

victories in a season six times between 1948 and 1971. The 87- year-old native of

Baltimore is retired.

Lonesome Glory won 24 of 44 career starts between 1991 and 1999, and is the leading

 money-earning horse in steeplechase history with $1.4 million. He injured himself

 in a stall accident and was euthanized on February 25, 2002 at age 14.

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