By Orville Clarke, Freelance Writer
FOUR-TIME CHAMPION jockey, Emilio 'Bimbo' Rodriquez, and former local trainer Ralph Ziadie were among eight new inductess to Thoroughbred Racing's Hall of Fame at the annual Pre-Derby/Hall of Fame Awards Dinner hosted by the Jamaica Racing Commission at the Terra Nova Hotel Thursday night.
Rodriquez, who now resides in the United States, joined the likes of Kenneth Mattis, George HoSang, Richard Depass and Winston Griffiths as jockeys of outstanding natural talent to be so honoured.
Griffiths was inducted in 2002, while Mattis holds the unique distinction of being inducted twice, first in the 1980s as a jockey and years later as a trainer.
Rodriquez was honoured in Category C - Jockeys. During a 30-year riding career he chalked up 1,080 winners at Caynanas Park, not to mention scores of winners on the North American circuit.
Among his local tally are 15 classic winners, including three in the Jamaica Derby, most notably Lucky Ole Sun in 1979 when the man also called "Chest" drove his mount ferociously to win in a three-way photo finish from Atta Boy and Lover Boy Ces. Easily one of the most popular jockeys to have ridden at Caymanas Park, the citation to Rodriquez noted that he has inspired many young riders.
Ziadie, on the other hand, hails from a famous racing family. He was numbered among the finest trainers during the early and mid-70s, winning the Jamaica Derby by a wide margin with Royal Crest in 1970.
A WINNING TRAIL
Ziadie saddled a total of 231 winners in Jamaica before moving his tack to Florida where he proceeded to make an even bigger impact, winning over 1,300 races and US$25 million in stakes since 1981, among them 12 graded stakes. Ziadie was inducted to Florida's Hall of Fame some years ago.
Blumenthal, the American filly who was voted 'Horse of the Year' in 1998 and again in 1999, was admitted to the Hall in Category A - Racehorses. Blumenthal, who won 19 races from 25 starts locally (mostly in the top class), raced in the silks of former champion owner Laurence Heffes who, in a break acceptance speech, spoke about the joys of owing a horse of such quality.
Also inducted in Category A were the Bombay Farms' resident stallion Restless Thief, sire of the 1993 Derby heroine and 1994 Superstakes winner Restless Babe and also Restless Glen, winner of the 1991 2000 Guineas, among others.
The Canadian broodmare Sweet Ruckus was also honoured. Following an impressive racing career at Caymanas Park, she proved herself at stud by producing horses such as The Barbarian, Ruckus and the most accomplished of all, War Zone who won the 1996 Triple Crown and 'Horse of the Year' award. Her owner Bruce Chin-Yee was on hand to accept the award.
Also honoured were Henry Jaghai J.P., proprietor of Bombay Stud Farms, owner and champion breeder for the past seven years; Jack Ashenheim for four decades of service to the racing industry in various capacities (owner of the outstanding Legal Light, breeder, administrator) and Eric Ray Haughton, a groom attached to the stables of trainer Philip Feanny. Haughton is the groom of reigning 'Horse of the Year' A King Is Born and also Millimetre.
Guest speaker was Robert Fox, director New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association.