The thoroughbred finalists are: Black Tie Affair, Kona Gold, Lava Man and Xtra Heat.
The finalists were selected by the Hall of Fame’s 14-member Nominating Committee from a total of 68 initial candidates suggested by turf journalists, Thoroughbred industry participants and racing fans. Thoroughbreds are required to be retired for five calendar years before becoming eligible. All candidates must have been active within the past 25 years. The results of the voting on contemporary candidates will be announced on Monday, April 20. The induction ceremony will be held at the Fasig-Tipton Sales Pavilion in Saratoga Springs on Friday, Aug. 7 at 10:30 a.m. The ceremony is free and open to the public.
Black Tie Affair (Miswaki—Hat Tab Girl, by Al Hattab) was bred in Ireland by American businessman Stephen D. Peskoff. Initially owned by Edward P. Swyer, Black Tie Affair was sold as a 3-year-old to Jeffrey Sullivan for $125,000. He was trained by Walter Reese at age 2 and Ernie T. Poulos for the remainder of his career.
The Eclipse Award winner for Horse of the Year and Champion Older Male in 1991, Black Tie Affair posted a career record of 18-9-6 from 45 starts with earnings of $3,370,694. Black Tie Affair won a total of 12 stakes races, including 11 graded events. In 1991, he closed his career with six consecutive wins (all in graded races), including a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic in which he defeated Twilight Agenda, Unbridled, Strike the Gold and Summer Squall. Black Tie Affair’s wins that year also included the Stephen Foster, Michigan Mile, Cornhusker, Philip H. Iselin and Washington Park (defeating Summer Squall) handicaps and the Commonwealth Breeders’ Cup Stakes (defeating Housebuster). He won at six different tracks that year. Black Tie Affair won graded stakes at ages 3, 4 and 5 and won races at a total of nine tracks in his career.
Kona Gold (Java Gold—Double Sunrise, by Slew o’ Gold) was bred in Kentucky by Carlos Perez at Twilite Farm and sold for $35,000 at Keeneland to a partnership that included trainer Bruce Headley, Irwin and Andrew Molasky and Michael Singh’s High Tech Stable.
The Eclipse Award winner for Champion Sprinter and runner-up for Horse of the Year as a 6-year-old in 2000, Kona Gold posted a career record of 14-7-2 from 30 starts with earnings of $2,293,384. During his championship year, Kona Gold won the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, Ancient Title, Bing Crosby, Potrero Grande and Palos Verdes handicaps. In winning the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, Kona Gold broke the Churchill Downs and Breeders’ Cup record for six furlongs with a time of 1:07.77. A five-time Breeders’ Cup Sprint participant, Kona Gold won the Bing Crosby and Potrero Grande again in 2001. He also had multiple victories in the El Conejo Handicap, including a Santa Anita track record in 1999. Kona Gold’s other major wins included the San Carlos Handicap and Los Angeles Handicap. Overall, he won 10 graded stakes, including two Grade 1s.
Lava Man (Slew City Slew—L’il Ms. Leonard, by Nostalgia’s Star) was bred in California by Lonnie Arterburn, Eve Kuhlmann and Kim Kuhlmann. Arterburn trained Lava Man until he was claimed during his 3-year-old season for $50,000 by trainer Doug O’Neill for STD Racing Stable and partner Jason Wood.
A winner of seven Grade 1 races — more than any other California-bred in history — Lava Man posted a career record of 17-8-5 from 47 starts with earnings of $5,268,706. Among California-bred horses, only Hall of Famers Tiznow and Best Pal have higher career earnings. Lava Man won three consecutive editions of the Hollywood Gold Cup (2005 through 2007), matching a feat Hall of Famer Native Diver accomplished from 1965 through 1967. Lava Man also won back-to-back runnings of the Santa Anita Handicap in 2006 and 2007. His other significant wins included the Pacific Classic, Californian, Sunshine Millions Classic, Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap, Goodwood Breeders’ Cup Handicap and Sunshine Millions Turf. In his first Hollywood Gold Cup victory, Lava Man won by a record eight lengths and earned a 120 Beyer Speed Figure. With his victory in the Whittingham in 2006, Lava Man became the first horse since Vanlandingham 21 years earlier to win a Grade 1 on both dirt and turf in the same year. Lava Man was also the first horse to win the Hollywood Gold Cup, Santa Anita Derby and Pacific Classic in the same year (a feat since equaled by Game On Dude).
Xtra Heat (Dixieland Heat—Begin, by Hatchet Man) was bred in Kentucky by Pope McLean’s Crestwood Farm and sold as a 2-year-old for $5,000 at Maryland’s Timonium sale to trainer John Salzman, Sr. and partners Ken Taylor and Harry Deitchman.
The Eclipse Award winner for Champion 3-Year-Old Filly in 2001, Xtra Heat compiled a career record of 26-5-2 from 35 starts and earnings of $2,389,635. Xtra Heat won a total of 25 stakes races, 10 of which were graded events. She registered two six-race win streaks and had two victories in the Barbara Fritchie Handicap and Endine Stakes. Xtra Heat’s wins included the Grade 1 Prioress (setting a stakes record of 1:08.26), as well as the Vagrancy and Genuine Risk handicaps and the Astarita and Beaumont stakes.