Wise Dan, Mark Casse Headline 2020 Racing Hall of Fame Class

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Wise Dan is among the 2020 racing Hall of Fame inductees in his first year of eligibility.
Wise Dan is among the 2020 racing Hall of Fame inductees in his first year of eligibility. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Seven new members have been elected to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame including the contemporary selections of trainer Mark Casse and two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan.

The class of 2020 also includes jockey Darrel McHargue and racehorse Tom Bowling via the Historic Review Committee; and Pillars of the Turf selections Alice Headley Chandler, J. Keene Daingerfield, Jr., and George D. Widener Jr.

The Hall of Fame induction ceremony is tentatively scheduled for Friday, Aug. 7, at the Fasig-Tipton sales pavilion in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. The museum is monitoring state and health regulations in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic and will be acting in accordance with those policies and best practices. A decision on the status of the 2020 induction ceremony will be forthcoming. 

Casse, 59, a native of Indianapolis, Ind., took out his trainer's license in Massachusetts at the age of 17 and saddled his first winner at Keeneland with Joe's Coming, his first starter, in April of 1979. According to Equibase data, Casse has won 2,865 races with purse earnings of $174,628,624 (No. 9 all-time) through May 3. Successful in both the United States and Canada, Casse has won the Sovereign Award for Outstanding Trainer in Canada a record 11 times and was inducted into the Canadian Racing Hall of Fame in 2016. He won two-thirds of the American Triple Crown in 2019 when War of Will won the Preakness Stakes and Sir Winston prevailed in the Belmont Stakes.

Mark Casse
Mark Casse (Eclipse Sportswire)

Casse has trained Eclipse Award winners Classic Empire, Shamrock Rose, Tepin, and World Approval, as well as Canadian Horse of the Year honorees Catch a Glimpse, Lexie Lou, Sealy Hill, Uncaptured, and Wonder Gadot. He has won a total of seven races in the Canadian Triple Crown series (the Prince of Wales four times, the Queen's Plate twice, and the Breeders' Stakes once), five Breeders' Cup races (the Mile twice, as well as the Filly and Mare Sprint, Juvenile, and Juvenile Fillies Turf), and the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot with Tepin. Casse has trained 18 horses that have won $1 million or more and has been the leading trainer at Woodbine (11 times), Turfway Park (four times), Keeneland (three times), and Churchill Downs (twice). 

Wise Dan (Wiseman's Ferry—Lisa Danielle, by Wolf Power) was bred and owned by Morton Fink and trained by Charles LoPresti. Named Horse of the Year in 2012 and 2013 and champion older male and champion male turf horse in both of those years, Wise Dan, a chestnut gelding, compiled a career record of 23-2-0 from 31 starts and earnings of $7,552,920 while competing from 2010-2014. 

Wise Dan won 19 graded stakes, including 11 Grade 1 events. He won on turf, dirt, and synthetic surfaces at seven tracks. Wise Dan won the Breeders' Cup Mile at Santa Anita Park in both 2012 and 2013. He also won the Woodbine Mile, Shadwell Turf Mile, Maker's 46 Mile, Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, Fourstardave Handicap, and Firecracker Handicap twice each. 

"We were hoping he would get it," LoPresti said of Wise Dan being selected in his first year of eligibility. "I felt like he deserved it. We're really pleased for the horse, and the Finks and everybody involved. We're really proud of the horse and what he accomplished. I think it was well deserved."

LoPresti said he'll never forget how much he enjoyed working with a horse of Wise Dan's level.

"When you look back on it, you realize what a wonderful, wonderful horse he was, a once-in-a-lifetime horse. It's hard to find horses like that," LoPresti said. "People spend millions, trainers have hundreds (of horses). It's really fantastic to have a horse like that, and what he accomplished every time he went over there. After he's gone, you deal with mediocre horses, you realize how good he was, everything he overcame. Whether he got a bad post position, a bad break, a bad turf course, he ran every time. You don't see that in horses all the time.

LoPresti said Wise Dan is enjoying his retirement.

"He's living with his brother, Successful Dan, here at our farm. He's happy as can be. He gets a lot of visitors to see him," LoPresti said. "We took him over to Old Friends last summer—they had a Wise Dan day over there—it was really incredible the people that came to see him, the fans that came to see him; and how much money was raised on Wise Dan day for Old Friends. We took him over there. He wasn't forgotten. He walked off that trailer, around that place, like he owned it. He's still a pretty incredible horse. He has a different personality than most horses.

One regret for the connections was that Fink did not live to see Wise Dan's selection for the Hall. Fink died in November.

"He would be over the moon. He loved that horse. He used to tell me all the time that was the only thing that kept him going was that horse and to be able to watch him run, to call me and talk to me about him," LoPresti said. "When that horse retired, that was a big void in his life, a big void in all of our lives—the horse is still here, but the retirement from racing and everything. It was a big void. He lived for that every day ...

"That horse did so much for all of us. As bad of health as Mr. Fink was in, that horse kept him going. That horse gave him something to live for every day. That's what he used to tell me all the time."

McHargue, 65, a native of Oklahoma City, Okla., won 2,553 races and had purse earnings of $39,609,526 in a career that spanned from 1972-1988. In 1978, McHargue won both the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey and the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award. That year, he set a North American record with $6,188,353 in purse earnings, led all riders with 37 stakes wins, and finished second nationally with 375 wins. McHargue won a career-best 405 races in 1974 (No. 2 in North America). He began a six-year stretch of ranking among the top 10 North American jockeys in earnings that year. 

McHargue won the 1975 Preakness Stakes with Master Derby. According to Equibase data, McHargue won 79 graded stakes from 1976-1988. His Grade 1 wins included the Arlington-Washington Futurity, Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap, San Juan Capistrano Handicap, Hopeful Stakes, San Antonio Stakes, Charles H. Strub Stakes, Swaps Stakes, Santa Anita Handicap, Sunset Handicap, San Luis Rey Stakes, Hollywood Invitational Handicap, Oak Leaf Stakes, Santa Anita Derby, and Hollywood Derby.

McHargue also spent some time riding in Ireland and England, winning several stakes, including the 1984 Irish St. Leger at the Curragh and the 1984 Jockey Club Cup at Ascot. McHargue won six graded stakes with Hall of Famer John Henry. He also won stakes aboard Hall of Famers Ancient Title and My Juliet, as well as General Assembly, Run Dusty Run, and Vigors, among others.

McHargue won six races on a single card at Santa Anita in both 1978 and 1979. He has been a steward in California since 1990 and was named the state's chief steward in 2015.

Tom Bowling (Lexington—Lucy Fowler, by Albion) was bred and owned by Hal Price McGrath and trained by Hall of Famer Ansel Williamson. A bay colt foaled in 1870, Tom Bowling lost his first two starts as a juvenile before winning 14 of his next 15 races. He broke his maiden in the 1872 Flash Stakes at Saratoga Race Course, then won the Thespian Stakes at Monmouth Park, covering six furlongs in 1:16 3/4, the fastest time to that date by a 2-year-old at the distance. Tom Bowling won seven of his eight starts as a 3-year-old, including the Jersey Derby at 1 1/2 miles, the Robbins Stakes at two miles, the Travers Stakes at 1 3/4 miles (defeating Belmont winner Springbok), the Jerome Stakes, the Annual Sweepstakes at two miles, and the Dixie Stakes at two miles.

Tom Bowling won all four of his races as a 4-year-old in 1874, including the 2 1/2-mile Monmouth Cup and the 2 1/2-mile Mansion House Stakes. He also won purse races at 1 1/2 and three miles. Tom Bowling was retired with a record of 14-3-0 from 17 starts and earnings of $36,350. He was retrospectively recognized as the champion  2-year-old male of 1872 and Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old male of 1873 by the editors of The Blood-Horse in the book "The Great Ones." 

Alice Headley Chandler, 94, founded Mill Ridge Farm in Lexington. She began the operation in 1962 after receiving four broodmares and 286 acres from her father, Hall of Fame member Hal Price Headley, upon his passing. Mill Ridge has since expanded to more than 1,100 acres. Chandler bred 1968 Epsom Derby winner Sir Ivor, establishing the farm as an international source of top performers, as the colt became the first American-bred sold at public auction to win the prestigious race.

Attica, Sir Ivor's dam, was one of the original mares bequeathed to Chandler by her father. Sir Ivor was sold at the 1966 Keeneland July sale for $42,000 to Raymond Guest. Sir Ivor's influence started the trend of American-bred European classic winners and was a major turning point for Keeneland and the American commercial market, as foreign buyers began traveling to the United States to buy classic winners. Chandler was honored by the Thoroughbred Club of America as the Honored Guest at its Testimonial Dinner in 2005 and she received the 2009 Eclipse Award of Merit.

Chandler has served as chairperson of the University of Kentucky's Gluck Equine Research Foundation, president of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, and as a director of the Breeders' Cup, Keeneland Association, and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association. Some of the horses raised at Mill Ridge include Hall of Famer Point Given, Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo, and champion Havre de Grace. Since 2000, Mill Ridge has raised or sold 34 Grade 1 winners, including six Breeders' Cup winners. 

J. Keene Daingerfield Jr. (1910-1993) was born in Lexington, and attended the University of Virginia before becoming a trainer and eventually one of the most respected stewards in the sport's history. Daingerfield had moderate success as a trainer and wrote the book "Training for Fun (and Profit, Maybe)" before serving in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in World War II. He resumed training after the war before accepting a steward's position at Narragansett Park in 1948. Daingerfield went on to serve as chief state steward in Kentucky from 1973-1985 and held the same role in New Jersey (1966-1973) and Illinois (1953-1956). He was an association steward at a total of 17 tracks. 

In 1985, Daingerfield was honored with the Eclipse Award of Merit. Following his retirement as state steward in Kentucky, Daingerfield served as a steward at Keeneland until 1989. He was elected to The Jockey Club in 1989. Daingerfield also was presented the William C. Coman Humanitarian Award by the Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and the Joe Palmer Award by the National Turf Writers Association. Known for his integrity, dignity, and racing expertise, Daingerfield is widely considered one of the finest officials in racing history. 

George D. Widener Jr. (1889-1971) was a Philadelphia native and one of the most prominent figures in American racing during the 20th century, influencing the sport as an owner, breeder, and leader. Widener was elected to The Jockey Club in 1916 and won his first race as an owner that year at Pimlico Race Course. The owner of Erdenheim Farm near Philadelphia and Old Kenney Farm near Lexington, Widener bred 102 stakes winners, including champions Jamestown, High Fleet, Platter, Stefanita, Evening Out, Jaipur, and What a Treat. He also bred and owned Hall of Fame member Eight Thirty, winner of the Travers, Whitney, Suburban, Metropolitan, Toboggan, and Massachusetts handicaps. Jaipur won the Belmont and Travers for Widener in 1962. Widener also owned champion Battlefield, another of his record-tying five Travers winners. 

Chairman of The Jockey Club for 14 years, Widener also chaired the Greater New York Association (the forerunner of NYRA), served as president of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, and director of the Thoroughbred Club of America. He was the Thoroughbred Club of America's Honored Guest in 1942 and was named the first Exemplar of Racing by the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1971.

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