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Hall of Fame Ceremony Has California Flavor

Horse racing: Cigar, Serena's Song and Noor, and jockey Westrope had strong ties to the state.

August 06, 2002|BOB MIESZERSKI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

There was a distinct California feel to the National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame induction ceremony Monday at Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Thoroughbred inductees Cigar, Serena's Song and Noor combined to make 39 starts at various tracks in the state and their owners all live or lived in California.

And Jockey Jack Westrope was a regular on the local circuit before he was killed at Hollywood Park in 1958.

Only Bud Delp, the trainer who was honored, was based elsewhere, primarily in Maryland. Even so, Spectacular Bid, Delp's most famous horse, had success in California, winning six consecutive graded stakes between Jan. 5 and June 8, 1980, at Santa Anita and Hollywood Park.

Cigar, the most dominant thoroughbred in the 1990s, was presented by Les Benton, the chairman of the Dubai World Cup, a race the son of Palace Music won when it was held for the first time in 1996.

It was the horse's 14th consecutive victory during a streak that reached 16 before it was ended by Dare And Go in the 1996 Pacific Classic at Del Mar.

Benton gave the plaque to Madeleine Paulson, the widow of Cigar's owner, Allen Paulson.

"I'm sure that Allen is looking down on us right now and I can assure him that not even [Fidel] Castro had a Cigar as good as this one," she said. "I owned Cigar for the first two victories [of his winning streak] and then I panicked. Allen always had the courage to push the horse to the top."

Paulson also acknowledged Bill Mott, Cigar's trainer during the best part of his career, and jockey Jerry Bailey.

"I fell in love with racing when I first started riding," said Bailey, "but I never really loved a horse until Cigar. He will always be very special in my life."

Serena's Song, a daughter of Rahy, who was racing's all-time earning female until Spain overtook her earlier this year, was presented by her former trainer Wayne Lukas. He presented the plaque to owners Bob and Beverly Lewis.

"I remember at Keeneland [yearling sale] in July of 1993," said Bob Lewis. "I was sitting next to Wayne and he told me this one is going to fall through the cracks and he was so right.

"She has been in our possession for nine years and has been an absolute joy. She was a marvelous performer as a racehorse and we are equally proud of her as a broodmare. She is the epitome."

Purchased by the Lewises at the sale for $150,000, Serena's Song wound up winning 18 of 38 races and earned nearly $3.3 million.

"Every one of us has a special moment in time or a song that brings back a memory. A first date, a dance. We all have our special song. For Wayne Lukas and Bob and Beverly Lewis, Serena was our song," Lukas said.

"She had the elegance of Grace Kelly, the moves of Ginger Rogers and the charisma of Marilyn Monroe. And for those of you too young to know who they are, she had the moves of Janet Jackson and the charisma of Britney Spears."

The presentation of Noor's plaque to Col. Michael Howard, the great-grandson of owner Charles Howard, was made by Mike Kane, vice president of the National Turf Writers Assn.

In a career in which he raced in Europe and the United States, the Irish-bred Noor won 12 of 31 races and was the first horse to beat two Triple Crown champions.

He defeated Citation, the 1948 Triple Crown hero, four times in 1950 and Assault, the 1946 Triple Crown winner, in an allowance race at Hollywood Park on. Dec. 1, 1950.

Delp, whose stable had earned $37.5 million before this year, has been a trainer for about 40 years, winning more than 3,500 races and leading numerous meets at Pimlico, Delaware Park, Monmouth Park, Hawthorne and Arlington.

His plaque was presented by Harry Meyerhoff, a longtime friend and the owner of Spectacular Bid, generally regarded as one of the greatest horses of all time.

"I've been going to the Keeneland September sales for 35 years with Bud and in that time we've bought 220 horses," Meyerhoff said. "Only seven of them never started and five more never won a race. Twenty of them were stakes winners and three were millionaires. Bud has been training for me for all this time, and I believe the primary reason why we've lasted so long together is that we both realize that the three most important things in horse racing is patience, patience and patience."

Accepting from Hall of Fame trainer John Nerud on behalf of Westrope was his daughter, Pamela Westrope Donner, and his widow, Terry Chaffee.

Before he was fatally injured while riding Well Away in the 1958 Hollywood Oaks, Westrope, who rode for 26 years, won 2,467 races, which then ranked eighth on the career list.

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