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Romero finally gets call to Hall of Fame

Romero finally gets call to Hall of Fame

The long wait is over for Randy Romero. The regular rider for Hall of Famers Go for Wand and Persona

The long wait is over for Randy Romero.

The regular rider for Hall of Famers Go for Wand and Personal Ensign was named one of four inductees to the National Racing Hall of Fame on Friday.

Romero, who won 4,294 races from 1973 to 1999 despite an endless laundry list of injuries and complications, finally made it into the Hall of Fame after having been nominated eight times.

“I think timing is everything, and this year was my time,” Romero said. “I know this took a long time, but maybe good things take time. I’m so excited about it, and can’t wait to get there.”

The other inductees among 10 nominees to the contemporary categories were the horses Azeri, Point Given and Best Pal.

Under a new induction pro­cedure this year, the 182 voters were not restricted to picking one candidate from each of four cat­egories, so the top four vote-getters, regardless of category, became the inductees.

Also nominated were jockey Alex Solis. trainers Gary Jones and Robert Wheeler and horses Sky Beauty, Open Mind and Safely Kept.

The induction ceremony will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 13, at the Fasig-Tipton Sales Pavilion on Union Avenue in Saratoga Springs.

Romero was involved in one of the most memorable moments in Breeders’ Cup history in 1988, when Personal Ensign nosed out Kentucky Derby winner Winning Colors in the BC Distaff to finish her career undefeated in 13 starts that included a win against males in the Whitney at Saratoga Race Course that year.

He rode Go for Wand to champ­ionships at 2 in 1989 and 3 in 1990.

Romero, a native of Erath, La., won riding titles at 10 different tracks, and his other top mounts included Creme Fraiche, Risen Star, Personal Flag, Polish Navy, Banshee Breeze, Housebuster, Hansel, Seeking the Gold, Yankee Affair and Java Gold.

“Personal Ensign retired undefeated, and she accomplished things that you don’t see too many horses do, until Zenyatta,” Romero said. “Go for Wand was another great one.”

Azeri and Point Given each earned Horse of the Year during their respective careers, Azeri in 2002, when she won eight of nine starts, including the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.

In 2004, at the age of 6, she added the Go for Wand at Saratoga to her list of 11 career Grade I victories, and won the Apple Blossom for the third year in a row.

She retired as the all-time leader in earnings among females, with $4,079,820, a record that has since been broken by Zenyatta.

“She was on top of the world,” said regular rider Mike Smith, also a Hall of Famer. “She had such good balance that it didn’t matter if she broke in front or dead last. She was one horse I never worried about whether she got out quick or not. As long as you got her out of the gate, she was OK.”

Point Given, trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert and owned by The Thoroughbred Corp., dom­inated 2001, winning Horse of the Year and Champion 3-year-old.

After finishing fifth in the Kentucky Derby, he rallied to win the final two legs of the Triple Crown, the Preakness and Belmont. He went on to capture the Haskell at Monmouth Park and Travers at Saratoga, becoming the first horse to win four straight races with $1 million purses.

Point Given was retired following the Travers because of an injury, and finished his career with nine wins in 13 starts and $3.9 million in earnings.

Best Pal won 18 of 47 career starts, earning more than $5.6 million during his six-year career.

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