National Museum of Racing 2024 Hall of Fame Class

April 24, 2024

Triple Crown champion Justify*, here winning the second Jewel, the Preakness, was inducted in his first year of eligibility. (Eric Kalet)

• Joel Rosario, Gun Runner and Justify
• Aristides and Lecomte
• Harry F. Guggenheim, Clement L. Hirsch, and Joe Hirsch

National Museum of Racing Release

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — Nine new members have been elected to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. The class of 2024 is comprised of jockey Joel Rosario and racehorses Gun Runner (KY) and Justify (KY) in the contemporary category; jockey Abe Hawkins and racehorses Aristides (KY) and Lecomte (KY) have been selected by the Pre-1900 Historic Review Committee; and Harry F. Guggenheim, Clement L. Hirsch, and Joe Hirsch were chosen by the Pillars of the Turf Committee. Rosario, Gun Runner, and Justify were all elected in their first year of eligibility. 

The 2024 Hall of Fame class will be enshrined on Friday, Aug. 2, at the Fasig-Tipton sales pavilion in Saratoga Springs at 10:30 a.m. The ceremony will be broadcast live on the Museum website at www.racingmuseum.org. The event is open to the public and free to attend. 

Joel Rosario

Joel Rosario won the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Classic aboard Knicks Go (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)
Joel Rosario won the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Classic aboard Knicks Go (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

Joel Rosario, 39, a native of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, has won 3,604 races (through April 20) and ranks No. 4 all time in North American purse earnings with $318,313,804 in a career that began in 2003. The Eclipse Award winner for Outstanding Jockey in 2021, Rosario won the 2013 Kentucky Derby with Orb and the Belmont Stakes with Tonalist (2014) and Sir Winston (2019). He has won 15 Breeders’ Cup races, including the Classic with champion Accelerate (2018) and Horse of the Year Knicks Go (2021). Rosario has ranked among the top 10 in North American earnings 15 times, including topping the list in 2021 with a career-best $32,956,215. He has also ranked in the top 10 in wins five times. 

Rosario has won 413 graded stakes to date, including 115 Grade 1 events. Along with his aforementioned Triple Crown series and Breeders’ Cup winners, Rosario’s top mounts have included champions Animal Kingdom, Blind Luck, Close Hatches, Epicenter, Game Winner, Jackie’s Warrior, Jaywalk, and Uni. Other standouts have included Clairiere, Frosted, Mind Your Biscuits, and Proxy, among others. Rosario has won nine riding titles on the Southern California circuit at Del Mar, Hollywood Park, and Santa Anita. In Kentucky, he has won two titles at Keeneland and one at Kentucky Downs. Rosario set records with 38 wins at the 2013 Keeneland spring meeting and 17 wins at Kentucky Downs in 2021. He tied the record with six wins on one card at Hollywood Park in 2009; won the 2013 Dubai World Cup with Animal Kingdom; and won the 2013 Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot in course-record time with No Nay Never. He won the Norfolk a second time in 2018 with Shang Shang Shang.

Gun Runner

Gun Runner winning the Pegasus World Cup. (Adam Coglianese)
Gun Runner winning the Pegasus World Cup. (Adam Coglianese)

A chestnut colt bred in Kentucky by Besilu Stables, Gun Runner (Candy Ride—Quiet Giant, by Giant’s Causeway) won the Eclipse Awards for Horse of the Year and Champion Older Male in 2017. Racing from 2015 through 2018, Gun Runner compiled a record of 12-3-2 from 19 starts and earnings of $15,988,500, the second-highest total of any North American-based horse (behind Hall of Famer Arrogate). 

Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen for owners Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm, Gun Runner’s championship season in 2017 included 
Grade 1 wins in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Woodward, Whitney, and Stephen Foster. He also won the Grade 3 Razorback that year. As a 3-year-old in 2016, he won the Grade 1 Clark Handicap, earned Grade 2 wins in the Louisiana Derby and Risen Star, and won the Grade 3 Matt Winn. Gun Runner made one start in 2018 prior to being retired, winning the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup by 2½ lengths over West Coast. Overall, he won races at seven different tracks.

Justify

Triple Crown champion Justify* was inducted in his first year of eligibility. (Eric Kalet)
Justify starting his Triple Crown quest with a victory in the 2018 Kentucky Derby. (Eric Kalet)

A chestnut colt bred in Kentucky by John D. Gunther, Justify (Scat Daddy—Stage Magic, by Ghostzapper) became America’s 13th Triple Crown winner and was voted the Eclipse Award winner for Horse of the Year and Champion 3-Year-Old Male in 2018. He crossed the finish line first in all six of his career starts, spanning 111 days from his career debut on Feb. 18, 2018, through his Belmont Stakes coronation on June 9. Note: Justify’s record of six wins from six starts and earnings of $3,798,000 is subject to change pending an ongoing appeals process related to his disqualification in the 2018 Santa Anita Derby.  

Trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert for owners China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners, Starlight Racing, and WinStar Farm, Justify won his first two starts at Santa Anita, then crossed the finish line first in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby. He went on to defeat champion Good Magic by 2½ lengths in the Kentucky Derby, beat Bravazo by a half-length in the Preakness, and swept the Triple Crown with a 1¾-lengh win over Gronkowski in the Belmont, his final start.

The three contemporary selections were chosen by a nationwide voting panel of 177 members from a group of 17 finalists submitted by the Hall of Fame’s Nominating Committee. To be elected, finalists are required to receive 50 percent plus one vote (majority approval) from the voting panel after earning two-thirds support from the Nominating Committee to advance to the ballot. 

Abe Hawkins

A portrait of Abe Hawkins: the only known image of the great jockey of the mid-1800s. (Public Domain)

Abe Hawkins (the location and date of his birth is unknown) earned nicknames including “The Black Prince,” “The Dark Sage of Louisiana,” and “The Slayer of Lexington” for his prowess as a jockey in the pre- and post-Civil War years. Arguably the most celebrated rider in America prior to Isaac Murphy and the first Black athlete to gain national prominence, Hawkins is remembered foremost for his victory aboard Lecomte vs. Lexington at the Metairie Course in New Orleans on April 1, 1854. That day, Hawkins piloted Lecomte to a record 7:26 for the distance of four miles to hand Lexington the lone defeat in his Hall of Fame career. 

An enslaved person on Duncan Kenner’s Ashland plantation in Louisiana, Hawkins won a documented 25 races from 1864 through 1866 and countless informal and undocumented events during the course of his career. Hawkins first appeared as a rider at Metairie in 1851 and rode for Kenner for a decade beginning in 1854. After the Civil War, as a free man, Hawkins went north and achieved celebrity and fortune, particularly at Saratoga Race Course, Jerome Park, and the course at Paterson, N.J. 

Ashland Plantation. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LA,3-GEIM.V,1-3)
Ashland Plantation. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LA,3-GEIM.V,1-3)

In 1866, while riding for Woodburn Farm’s R. A. Alexander, Hawkins won the Travers Stakes and Jersey Derby aboard Merrill (trained by Hall of Famer and former slave Ansel Williamson) and the inaugural Jerome Stakes at Jerome Park with Watson (for Hall of Fame trainer Jacob Pincus). The year prior, he won the Jersey Derby aboard Richmond for owner Oden Bowie, who later became Maryland’s governor. 

Kenner invited Hawkins to return to Ashland as a free man if he wished, which he did later in 1866. He rode during Metairie’s races that December, but by the following May, Turf, Field and Farm reported his death. 

“As a rider and a jockey, he had no equal in this country … Good riders and strictly honest ones are rare; therefore, the death of Old Abe is an irreparable loss to the American turf.” 

Hawkins, however, was not dead. Days later, Hawkins read of his own demise in the St. Louis Republican. After a brief recuperation, he felt well enough to travel to Cincinnati to ride in the Buckeye Jockey Club’s spring meet. Unfortunately, his illness returned and worsened. Hawkins died of consumption on May 27, 1867, and his body was shipped back to Ashland. Hawkins’ former owner, Kenner, buried him at Ashland in a brick tomb under a live oak tree near the plantation’s training track. 

Hawkins rode many of the best horses of his era, including Arrow, Asteroid, Louis d’Or, Minnehaha, Panic, Rhinodine, and Whale, among others. His riding style later came to be known as the “American seat,” which Hall of Fame jockeys Tod Sloan and Willie Simms popularized some 20 years later.

Aristides

Etching of Aristides by C. Lloyd first published as a plate in the 1877 book "Famous Horses of America. (Public Domain)
Etching of Aristides by C. Lloyd first published as a plate in the 1877 book “Famous Horses of America. (Public Domain)

Bred in Kentucky by his owner, H. P. McGrath, Aristides (Leamington—Sarong, by Lexington), a chestnut colt foaled in 1872, won the inaugural Kentucky Derby in 1875. Trained by Hall of Famer Ansel Williamson, Aristides, a week before the Derby, finished out of the money in the Phoenix Hotel Stakes (won by Hall of Famer Ten Broeck). He came back in the Derby before a crowd of 10,000 to defeat Volcano by a length, with Ten Broeck fifth. His time of 2:37¾ was the fastest ever to that date by a 3-year-old for 1½ miles.

Following the Derby, Aristides won the Withers Stakes at Jerome Park, finished second in the Belmont to Calvin, and was third in the Travers. Aristides’ second-place finish in the Belmont was attributed in the press to his having been “pulled” to allow stablemate Calvin to win. Calvin’s victory was said to have landed $30,000 in bets for McGrath. Aristides went on to win the two-mile Jerome Stakes that fall (Calvin was second, Hall of Famer Tom Ochiltree was fourth) and closed his season with a win the two-mile Breckinridge Stakes (Tom Ochiltree finished third). Aristides is retrospectively acknowledged as the champion 3-year-old male of 1875. 

Aristides battled injuries thereafter, but he won both of his races as a 4-year-old in 1876 in spectacular fashion. He set an American record of 4:27½ for 2½ miles at Lexington on May 10, 1876, defeating Ten Broeck (his only loss of the year), and another American record of 3:45½ for 2⅛ miles at Lexington in his other win that season. Aristides did not race as a 5-year-old and made only one start at age 6, finishing out of the money in a race won by Ten Broeck. Overall, he posted a record of 9-5-1 from 21 starts with earnings of $18,325. Aristides died on June 21, 1893. In 1988, the Aristides Stakes was inaugurated at Churchill Downs to honor him. A life-sized bronze statue of Aristides by Carl Regutti stands in the Clubhouse Gardens at Churchill as a memorial.

Lecomte

Lecomte portrait courtesy of Fair Grounds Racing Museum.
Lecomte portrait courtesy of Fair Grounds Racing Museum.

Bred in Kentucky by Gen. Thomas Jefferson Wells, Lecomte (by Boston—Reel, by Glencoe), a chestnut colt foaled in 1850, made his debut at the Metairie Course in New Orleans on April 5, 1853, in a 2-year-old sweepstakes at mile heats. Although he was a foal of 1850, Lecomte was still considered a 2-year-old. Southern rules that were in effect prior to the Civil War designated ages of horses as calculated from May 1. Lecomte won both mile heats, including a time of 1:45½ in the second heat, the fastest ever raced in America at the time. 

Lecomte did not race again until November. He returned to win at two-mile heats at the Pharsalia Course in Mississippi before winning three races in three weeks back at Metairie to remain undefeated through five starts. His victory on Jan. 6, 1854, was in mile heats against Sallie Ward, considered one of the best mares in the South prior to the Civil War. Lecomte was finally defeated when he met up with Hall of Famer Lexington in the Great State Post Stakes in consecutive four-mile heats. 

A week later, Lecomte met Lexington again in the Jockey Club Purse, again at four-mile heats. Lecomte won the first heat by six lengths in 7:26, more than six seconds faster than the record set by Hall of Famer Fashion a dozen years earlier. Lecomte won the second heat by four lengths in 7:38¾, which handed Lexington the lone defeat of his career. Lecomte then won the Association Purse in Mississippi and walked over for another purse two days later before returning to New Orleans and winning another Jockey Club purse. Thus, early in 1855, Lecomte had won nine of 10 races and owned American records for one and four miles. Lecomte and Lexington met once more in April of 1855. Lecomte appeared to be in poor condition and was easily defeated by Lexington in the first heat. Lecomte was withdrawn prior to the second heat. 

Lecomte returned in the fall to defeat Arrow at four-mile heats, then lost to Arrow three weeks later. Lecomte had one more victory, a walkover. Gen. Wells later sold Lecomte to Richard Ten Broeck for $10,000. Ten Broeck sent Lecomte to Kentucky and bred him to a few mares before shipping him to England to race. Lecomte raced once in England, but a leg injury forced him to be pulled up in the Warwick Cup of 1857. Lecomte developed a severe case of colic and died on Oct. 7, 1857. His overall record was 11-4-1 from 17 starts with earnings of $12,360.

The Museum’s Historic Review Committee considered only candidates from before 1900 this year. The Committee will review the era of 1900 through 1959 in 2025 and 1960 through 2000 in 2026. 

Harry F. Guggenheim 

Harry F. Guggenheim (right) and Mrs. Guggenheim. (George Grantham Bain Collection-Library of Congress)
Harry F. Guggenheim (right) and Mrs. Guggenheim. (George Grantham Bain Collection-Library of Congress)

In addition to his considerable impact on horse racing, Harry F. Guggenheim was a leading figure in the fields of publishing, mining, government service, aeronautics, and philanthropy. Born in New Jersey in 1890, Guggenheim developed a passion for racing after graduating from Cambridge University. He became a significant figure in the sport as an owner, breeder, and industry leader. 

Under the name Cain Hoy Stable, Guggenheim won 540 races as an owner with purse earnings of $6.2 million. He also bred the winners of 1,230 races (those horses earned $8.7 million). Cain Hoy campaigned 1953 Kentucky Derby winner Dark Star (a $6,500 purchase and the only horse to defeat Native Dancer), champion Bald Eagle (back-to-back winner of the Washington, D.C., International), and Hall of Fame member Ack Ack (who raced for Buddy Fogelson and wife Greer Garson after Guggenheim’s death and was Horse of the Year in 1971). 

Cain Hoy-bred standouts included champions Crafty Admiral and Never Bend; Kentucky Oaks winners Lalun (1955), Hidden Talent (1959), Make Sail (1960), and Sally Ship (1963); Bold Reason, winner of the American Derby, Hollywood Derby and Travers Stakes in 1971; San San, winner of the 1972 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe; and multiple stakes winner One-Eyed King. Overall, Guggenheim bred 43 stakes winners, including a few in partnership. 

Guggenheim, who was elected to The Jockey Club in 1951, was the leading breeder in total earnings in England and Ireland in 1963. He bred Ragusa, who raced for 
J. R. Mullion and won the Irish Derby, English St. Leger, and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes that year. 

Along with Hall of Fame members John W. Hanes and Christopher T. Chenery, Guggenheim outlined a plan for a non-profit to reorganize New York racing in the 1950s, which eventually led to the creation of the New York Racing Association. In 1969, with his health failing, Guggenheim dispersed all his stock except his stallions and homebred colt Ack Ack. His breeding stock went to Keeneland’s fall sale that year and his horses in training were sold at Belmont Park for a gross of $4,751,200 for 137 head, a record gross for a dispersal. 

Guggenheim served in the Navy in both World War I and World War II. During the first World War, he rose to the rank of Lt. Commander while serving in France, England, and Ireland. Guggenheim was recalled to active duty and stationed in the South Pacific during World War II as a tail gunner on a torpedo bomber. He rose to the rank of Captain by the end of the war. Guggenheim was also the United States ambassador to Cuba from 1929 until 1933. According to one of his obituaries, much of his time during that period was devoted to prevailing on the Cuban dictator‐president, Gen. Gerardo Machado y Morales, “ … not to murder too many of his political enemies,” as Mr. Guggenheim put it. 

In 1929, President Herbert Hoover appointed Guggenheim to serve on the National Advisory Committee of Aeronautics, a position that he held until 1938. In 1948, as president of the Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Foundation, he continued to support American aviation progress by helping organize the Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Jet Propulsion Center at the California Institute of Technology and the Guggenheim Laboratories for Aerospace Propulsion Sciences at Princeton University. Guggenheim died at the age of 80 in 1971.

Clement L. Hirsch

Clement L. Hirsch. (Los Angeles Daily News c. 1950-Public Domain)
Clement L. Hirsch. (Los Angeles Daily News c. 1950-Public Domain)

Clement L. Hirsch was born in 1914 in St. Louis into a successful family of retail merchants. During his youth, Hirsch’s family moved to California. In 1936, Hirsch founded the Dog Town Packing Company in Vernon, Calif., which became a prominent pet food producer he later renamed Kal Kan Foods, Inc. In 1968, Mars, Inc. acquired the company and today it forms part of their Pedigree Petfoods division. He also was the founder of Stagg Foods of Costa Mesa, which he built into a major producer of canned chili. He sold Stagg Foods in 1996 to Hormel Foods. 

After serving in the Marine Corps in World War II and being involved in the invasion of Guadalcanal, Hirsch purchased his first racehorse in 1947. During his more than 50 years as an owner, Hirsch employed only two trainers. He first hired Robert H. “Red” McDaniel, then Warren Stute, who remained with him for more than 40 years. A member of The Jockey Club, Hirsch was successful with a number of horses imported from South America, among them the colt Figonero, who won the 1969 Hollywood Gold Cup and set a world record for 1⅛ miles in winning the Del Mar Handicap. He was also successful with the filly Magical Maiden, who won the 1991 Hollywood Starlet and the 1992 Las Virgenes Stakes. In 1993, Magical Maiden won the Chula Vista Handicap at Del Mar, a race that track officials later renamed the Clement L. Hirsch Handicap. 

While successful racing horses, Hirsch is best remembered in the sport as a co-founder and President of the Oak Tree Racing Association. In 1968, the operators of Del Mar decided to cancel their fall racing program and to host only a summer meet. Hirsch, along with businessman/racehorse owner Louis R. Rowan, veterinarian Dr. Jack Robbins, and other racing enthusiasts, formed Oak Tree to annually host a fall meet at Santa Anita Park. It proved to be successful, and Hirsch served as its president from its inception until his death in 2000. The Oak Tree meetings also benefited numerous racing charities. 

Chapman College Challenge '70 Dinner, held at the Balboa Bay Club, Newport Beach, California, September 18, 1970. Mr. Wayne and Trustee Clement L. Hirsch, a co-sponsor of the banquet, admire one of two antique pistols presented to the actor from the collection of the late J. E. Wilkinson, former Chairman of the Chapman Board. (Chapman University Events Collection)
Chapman College Challenge ’70 Dinner, held at the Balboa Bay Club, Newport Beach, California, September 18, 1970. Mr. Wayne and Trustee Clement L. Hirsch, a co-sponsor of the banquet, admire one of two antique pistols presented to the actor from the collection of the late J. E. Wilkinson, former Chairman of the Chapman Board. (Chapman University Events Collection)

In 1998, Hirsch was awarded the Commissioners Cup by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association. He also served as a director of the Thoroughbred Racing Associations (TRA) and California Thoroughbred Breeders Association. He received a Special Eclipse Award in 1999. Following his death in 2000, the Oak Tree Racing Association honored him by changing the Oak Tree Turf Championship Stakes to the Clement L. Hirsch Memorial Turf Championship for the 2000 renewal.

Hirsch’s legacy in the sport lives on. His mare Magical Maiden is the granddam of 2009 Kentucky Derby entrant Papa Clem and the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprinter winner Ce Ce through her Grade 1-winning daughter, Miss Houdini. Papa Clem and Ce Ce were both campaigned by Hirsch’s son, Bo Hirsch. The name “Papa Clem” stems from the name Clement Hirsch’s grandchildren called him, and that horse was trained by Gary Stute, Warren Stute’s nephew.

 Joe Hirsch

Joe Hirsch trading card c. 1993
Joe Hirsch trading card c. 1993

Born in New York City in 1928, Joe Hirsch enjoyed a prolific journalism career that carried him from the eras of Citation and Native Dancer to the dawn of the 21st century. He earned a degree in journalism from New York University, then served in the United States Army for four years. Following his time in the military, Hirsch worked briefly for The New York Times before joining the staff at The Morning Telegraph. He then transitioned to its companion publication, Daily Racing Form, where he spent 49 years (1954 through 2003) and became one of racing’s most visible and impactful figures. Hirsch became the Form’s executive columnist in 1974 and held that title until his retirement. Through his omnipresent and comprehensive reporting and personal access to the leaders and prominent participants in the sport, Hirsch became highly influential and used his platform to become one of the game’s greatest ambassadors. 

An author of five books and the founder and first president of the National Turf Writers Association in 1959, Hirsch’s signature work occurred each spring as he chronicled the quest for the American classics in his “Derby Doings” for the Form, but beyond that the entire racing world was included in his writing. He was instrumental in the creation of the Arlington Million in 1981, a midsummer classic for older runners that reached out to the best stables of Europe. Likewise, Hirsch was there at the dawn of the Japan Cup, the Breeders’ Cup, and the Dubai World Cup, stamping each event with the imprimatur of his formidable reputation. 

To see photos of Joe Hirsch, click here.

A grateful racing industry gave Hirsch both an Eclipse Award for Outstanding Newspaper Writing (1978) and the Award of Merit (1992) for his lifetime of service. His British colleagues recognized Hirsch’s international reach with the Lord Derby Award from the Horserace Writers and Reporters Association of Great Britain (1981). Hirsch won the Big Sport of Turfdom Award (1983), The Jockey Club Medal (1989), and was the 1994 Honor Guest at the Thoroughbred Club of America’s testimonial dinner. The National Turf Writers Association honored him with the Walter Haight Award for excellence in turf writing (1984), the Joe Palmer Award for meritorious service to racing (1994), and the Mr. Fitz Award for typifying the spirit of horse racing (1998). 

The Joe Hirsch Media Roll of Honor at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame was created in his honor in 2010 to recognize career excellence in media. Additionally, the press boxes at Churchill Downs and Saratoga are named in his honor, as are journalism scholarships at the University of Kentucky and one through the National Thoroughbred Racing Association. The Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational, a Grade 1 grass race, is held each fall in New York.

“Joe Hirsch was much more than just the dean of American racing writers for half a century. He was a global ambassador for the sport, a mentor to two generations of journalists, and probably the most universally respected figure in the world of horse racing,” said Steven Crist, a longtime colleague of Hirsch and former publisher of Daily Racing Form.

For more information about the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, please visit www.racingmuseum.org or call (518) 584-0400.

@Jonathanstettin Very well written article. The sport will be missed by many...The time is now

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