SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. –
The process to select the next class of inductees for the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame is underway. It began in November 2006, nearly 10 months before the scheduled date of the ceremony on August 6, 2007.
Following the established timeline, a packet was mailed to the members of the voting panel. The voters were invited to participate in the 2007 election and asked to suggest horses, jockeys and trainers to be considered by the nominating committee. Edward L. Bowen is the chairman of the committee.
The categories are: Contemporary Female, Contemporary Male, Jockey and Trainer.
In early January, members of the Museum staff will check the eligibility of all the names proposed by the voters and those submitted by the public throughout the year. To be eligible for the contemporary categories, horses must be retired for five calendar years; trainers must have raced Thoroughbreds for 25 years; and jockeys must be licensed for 20 years.
Horses, trainers and jockeys who meet the other requirements but who have been retired for 25 years or more are addressed by the Historic Review Committee.
After the candidates’ eligibility for the contemporary categories is established, the Museum staff prepares biographies of each individual to be used by the nominating committee. In February and March, the committee will discuss the candidates during conference calls. Using revised rules to tighten the process, which were approved by the Executive Committee of National Museum of Racing’s Board of Trustees in October 2006, the nominating committee may select as few as two and as many as four names to be placed on the ballot in each category. The nominating committee also has the option not to approve any candidates in a category.
The ballots are prepared in late March and mailed by an auditing firm. Voters must return their ballots to the firm during a three-week period in April. The names of the inductees for 2007 will be announced during a national teleconference on Tuesday, May 29, 2007.
At its meeting in October in New York, the Executive Committee of the Museum’s Board of Trustees approved a proposal to return to a plurality voting policy to select inductees in the contemporary categories. In each category, the nominee that receives the most votes will be elected. Should there be a numerical tie, all nominees finishing in the tie will be inducted.
Plurality voting was in effect for many years through 2004. In 2005 and 2006, a nominee was required to receive at least 75 percent of the votes cast to earn induction. During those two years, one contemporary nominee, trainer Nick Zito, was elected to the Hall of Fame.
“We have made the nominating process stringent enough that returning to the plurality system does not lower standards,” said Museum president Stella Thayer. “The new process is designed to ensure that only bona fide Hall of Fame-quality individuals are nominated, so whichever one receives the highest number of votes has passed a very difficult series of tests.”
The trustees also voted to have the Historic Review Committee meet more frequently. Under the previous schedule, the Historic Review Committee met every even-numbered year and the Steeplechase Committee met every other odd-numbered year. The new schedule calls for the Historic Review Committee to meet in 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and the Steeplechase Committee to meet in 2009 and 2013.