Pletcher, Casse, American Pharoah Highlight Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony

The combined ceremony for the 2020 and 2021 Hall of Fame induction classes was, as usual, filled with laughter and tears for the honorees, highlighted by trainers Todd Pletcher and Mark Casse. The ceremony took place Aug. 6 at the Fasig-Tipton sales pavilion in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Pletcher, who was introduced with a fond series of recollections by longtime owner Mike Repole, received a standing ovation when accepting his plaque. Pletcher, who shows no signs of slowing down, already has seven Eclipse Awards to his credit alongside five Triple Crown wins, 11 Breeders’ Cup victories, and 60 individual meet titles, including 14 at Saratoga.

Pletcher is widely cited as one of the jewels in the prominent training tree of fellow Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, whose tutelage he acknowledged during his acceptance speech. Pletcher said he is often asked what the most important lesson was that he took from his time with Lukas.

“The answer is there’s not one thing, it’s everything,” said Pletcher. “Every horse matters. Every owner matters.”

Pletcher set his sights on training from a young age, encouraged by his father, who is a former trainer and owns a Florida training center, and his mother, who helped him take out his first loan when he wanted to open his own barn. He put out his shingle in 1995.

Mark Casse also became a Hall of Famer on Friday morning – an incredible evolution for the man who remembered visiting the hall with his father in 1972 at the age of 11.

“At the end of the visit, I confidently told my dad, ‘I’ll be in here some day,’” an emotional Casse remembered. “As any good father would do, he told me, ‘Yes, Mark, you will.’ Well, we did it.”

Casse has won 13 Sovereign Awards, two American Triple Crown races, eight Canadian Triple Crown races, five Breeders’ Cup races, and was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2016.

Casse and Pletcher both acknowledged the tremendous support from owners, family, and staff that helped them reach this moment in their careers. Although Casse was shepherded into the racing world by his father Norman, who built Cardinal Hill Stable in Ocala, Fla., and was chair of the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company, Mark Casse recalled that he owes his mother just as great a debt for his career. When his parents divorced, Casse was asked to choose which parent he would live with. His mother would be leaving the farm, and his father would continue to be hands on with the horses. Overwhelmed with emotion, Casse asked his wife Tina to read the part of his speech that acknowledged her contribution to his career.

“I asked my mom a simple question that would change the course of my life,” Casse had written. “’Mom, do you truly love me?’ ‘With all my heart,’ she said. I said, ‘Mom, if you truly love me, you’ll let me stay with Dad.’ I know that had to have killed her, but she granted me a true sign of love by letting me stay on the farm. Who knows where my life would be today if it wasn’t for her sacrifice.”

The induction ceremony also marked the entry of 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah into the Hall of Fame. Embattled owner/breeder Ahmed Zayat accepted the plaque on behalf of the horse. Zayat recalled his favorite moments from the horse’s career, including the enormous fan following generated by “America’s horse.”

[Story Continues Below]


“I’ve never seen 20,000 people come in the morning to see a horse gallop,” said Zayat, recalling the horse’s workout at Saratoga ahead of his loss in the Grade 1 Travers. “I don’t think we’ll ever see that again. American Pharoah loved the crowd. He loved the people.”

Wise Dan also took his place in the Hall, marking the crowning achievement in a career that included two Horse of the Year awards, four other Eclipses, earnings of $7.5 million, track records at three tracks, and 19 graded stakes wins.

Trainer Charlie LoPresti was on hand to accept the plaque for Wise Dan.

“My only regret is that Mr. [Morton] Fink is not here to accept this award because he was so proud of that horse,” said LoPresti. “He used to tell me all the time, ‘Charlie, the only thing that keeps me alive is that horse.’ …I think it put years on his life.”

Additional honorees Aug. 6 included steeplechase trainer Jack Fisher, historic review jockey Darrel McHargue, Pillars of the Turf J. Keene Daingerfield, Jr., George D. Widener, Jr., and Alice Headley Chandler, and historic review horse Tom Bowling.

The post Pletcher, Casse, American Pharoah Highlight Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

DYFD Winter - 300x90

Comments are closed.