This year’s Hall of Fame class is a celebration of the distaff side.
Announced last Friday, this year’s inductees are Jerry Hollendorfer, Safely Kept, Open Mind, and Sky Beauty.
Oh, sure, Hollendorfer’s a male, but the first question that he took during the teleconference following the announcement was about which of his three Kentucky Oaks winners (Blind Luck, Pike Place Dancer, and Lite Light) stood out the most to him.
“I love all three,” Hollendorfer replied. “I feel almost exactly the same about all of them. The last one, with Blind Luck, seemed like there was just so much more media coverage, photographers…it was an overwhelming experience.”
Also on hand was Allen Jerkens, fielding questions on behalf of Sky Beauty. “She was very special; she won the filly Triple Crown and the Alabama. It’s too bad she couldn’t do it in the Breeders’ Cup – she did everything else. She was, I think, the last filly ever to carry 130 pounds and win.” She carried that weight in the 1994 Ruffian, beating Dispute by a length and a quarter.
Sky Beauty won the Triple Tiara/Alabama combination in 1993, four years after Open Mind accomplished the same feat. Though Open Mind finished second in the Coaching Club American Oaks, she was placed first through the disqualification of Nite of Fun. Unlike Sky Beauty, Open Mind was able to transfer her ability to the Breeders’ Cup, winning the Juvenile Fillies in 1988 at Churchill Downs. From 19 starts, her record was 12-2-2. Half of her wins were in Grade 1 races, including the Demoiselle and Kentucky Oaks.
Richard Santulli, one of Safely Kept’s owners, reflected on his filly’s two Breeders’ Cup Sprint races. “She lost the one we thought she’d win, and she won the one we thought she was going to lose.”
Characterizing the races as “unforgettable,” Santulli described watching them: “I’d gotten very sick with endocarditis, and the day of her first Breeders’ Cup race was my first day out of bed. I had the doctor’s clearance to enjoy the races, but I wasn’t supposed to get very excited. I still had an IV in my arm.
“She was undefeated in her three-year-old year, and she got caught in the last jump by Dancing Spree. She did everything but win the race.”
Safely Kept was back in the Sprint in 1990, setting the pace again, “fighting off the rest of the field,” according to Santulli.
“She and Dayjur ran as a team, and he looked like he might just be edging clear when he jumped the shadow.
“At the time we didn’t understand what happened; she lunged forward and got to the wire.”
Safely Kept wasn’t the only filly inductee who got fortunate on the track; Jerkens said that Sky Beauty was “lucky to win” the Alabama.
“I was thinking about not running her,” he said. “She wasn’t eating as well as I thought she should, though she came around right near the race. Mike Smith rode a great race on her, she had her head straight in the starting gate, and we got the job done.”
“Some of them,” he said, “are just born to be great, and it’s nice to be along.”
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any video of Open Mind or Sky Beauty. Click here for more information on all of this year’s inductees.