The Maryland Thoroughbred Hall of Fame’s newest inductees include European champion El Gran Senor and renowned filly Caesar’s Wish. The selections of these Maryland-breds were made by a committee of Maryland racing industry members, coordinated by the Maryland Horse Breeders Association and the Maryland Racing Media Association.
El Gran Senor, a son of Northern Dancer, was foaled at his breeder E.P. Taylor’s Windfields Farm in Chesapeake City in April of 1981. One of the select few Northern Dancer sons to be kept by his breeder, El Gran Senor was named for his sire’s Hall of Fame trainer Horatio Luro. The colt was campaigned for Windfields Farm in partnership with Robert Sangster and was trained by Vincent O’Brien in Ireland.
A champion at ages two and three in England and Ireland, El Gran Senor won seven of eight races in his career, earning $520,969. His victories included classic wins in the Irish Sweeps Derby G-1 and the English Two Thousand Guineas-G1. In 1984, he was selected as Maryland-bred Horse of the Year, champion 3-year-old and champion grass horse.
Retired from racing during the fall of his 3-year-old season, El Gran Senor came back to Maryland to stand his first season at stud alongside Northern Dancer at Winfields Farm in 1985. The colt was moved to Ashford Stud in Kentucky the following year, where he remained until his death at age 25 in 2006. Out of 415 foals in 15 crops, 55 were stakes winners.
El Gran Senor will be the first son of Northern Dancer to be inducted into the Maryland Thoroughbred Hall of Fame.
Caesar’s Wish, a daughter of Proudest Roman, was born at Doug Small’s Strathmore Stud in Monkton in May of 1973. She was bred by Nathan Cohen, a former Pimlico vice-president and son of former Pimlico president Herman Cohen, who sold the filly back to Small when she was a yearling. Caesar’s Wish was then sold privately to Sally Gibson, who placed her with Small’s son, Richard “Dickie” Small for training.
Making her 2-year-old debut at Pimlico in 1977, winning by nine lengths, the fiery filly continued her success throughout her two years of competition and was regarded as one of the nation’s leaders in her division. Racing all along the East Coast, Caesar’s Wish won 11 of 16 starts, nine of the 11 being stakes races and earned $314,507.
Caesar’s Wish was named Maryland-bred champion as a 2-year-old in 1977 and a 3-year-old in 1978. Some of her victories included the Grade 2 Demoiselle Stakes, Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan and the Grade 1 Mother Goose, where she broke the stakes record set by the immortal Ruffian.
The champion filly’s career ended in 1978 when she suffered a heart attack at the head of the stretch during her run as the 4-5 favorite in the Grade 1 Alabama at Saratoga (NY). That fall, Bowie carded a Caesar’s Wish Handicap. A race has been run in her honor at a Maryland track nearly every year since.
Her trainer Small considered the filly “one of his greatest achievements and the fastest horse he ever trained.”
El Gran Senor and Caesar’s Wish join MTHOF members Awad, Broad Brush, Challedon, Cigar, Concern, Dave’s Friend, Deputed Testamony, Find, Gallorette, Jameela, Kauai King, Little Bold John, Politely, Safely Kept, Twixt and Vertex and steeplechasers Elkridge, Good Night Shirt, Jay Trump and Tuscalee. The newest honorees, with biographies, photos, videos and complete race records, are showcased on-line at www.mdthoroughbredhalloffame.com.
The MTHOF endeavors to celebrate the racing achievements of Maryland-bred Thoroughbreds nationally and internationally, and to showcase their enduring legacies. The planning committee representing varied state racing interests determined MTHOF eligibility for flat runners and steeplechasers retired from racing at least five years. The committee enshrined 12 Maryland-bred horses for the inaugural class of 2013, and two in each subsequent year.
A celebration to recognize this year’s class of inductees will take place at Laurel Park on Maryland Pride Day on Saturday, Aug. 18. For more information on the event, go to: Maryland Pride Day.