New Addition to TB Hall of Fame
After a 12-year drought, the Aiken Thoroughbred Hall of Fame will induct a racing champion this spring. Midshipman, a colt owned by Darley and started at the Aiken Training Track under Stonerside’s Tim Jones, won the Eclipse Award for outstanding Juvenile (2-year-old) Colt of 2008. He will be the first horse inducted into the Hall of Fame since Dogwood Stables’ Storm Song won the Eclipse as the outstanding Juvenile Filly of 1996.
Midshipman was sired by Unbridled’s Song, one of the top ten money-earning sires of 2008. His dam, Avenue of Flags, was a multiple graded stakes winning mare from California, who won $631,190 on her way to becoming California’s champion 3-year-old filly of 1997 and champion older female of 1998. Midshipman started his racing career on August 17 with a win at Del Mar (California), followed on September 3 by a win in the Grade I Del Mar Futurity. He was second in the Grade I Norfolk Stakes, and capped his 2-year-old year by winning the Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on October 25. His performance was good enough to make him the overwhelming winner in the Eclipse Award voting, garnering 195 votes, some 160 ahead of his closest competitor.
Midshipman was one of the horses that Bob and Janice McNair sold to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Makhtoum as part of the sheikh’s deal to buy Stonerside Stables back in September. Now a part of Darley Stables and a winner of $1.38 million, he was one of five young horses from that outfit to fly back to Dubai this December, presumably in preparation for a run at the United Arab Emirates Derby in late March. If all goes well, perhaps he will be stateside again on the first Saturday in May. Aiken always loves rooting for an Aiken-connected Kentucky Derby contender.
Induction into the Aiken Thoroughbred Hall of Fame is an honor that has been bestowed upon 39 horses, including Midshipman. To qualify, a horse must be recognized as a champion by winning an Eclipse Award, and must have trained in Aiken at some point in its career. Midshipman was not the only horse with Aiken ties who was up for an Eclipse this year. Another contender was Eight Belles, nominated in the 3-Year-Old Filly category. Eight Belles, who trained at Legacy Stable under Ron Stevens as a 2-year-old, finished second in the Kentucky Derby before breaking down on the racetrack where she was euthanized.
The ceremony honoring Midshipman will be held on Sunday, March 15 at 12:30 p.m. at the Thoroughbred Hall of Fame and Museum in Hopeland Gardens.