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Pago Hop's Owner Enters FG Hall of Fame

Fair Grounds Race Course
Photo: CDI

Joining Fair Grounds’ late all-time leading stakes-winning jockey E.J. Perrodin and Louisiana’s all-time leading money-winning horse Star Guitar as the latest inductees to the Fair Grounds Hall of Fame Monday evening will be the late native New Orleanian Thoroughbred owner Ray Salmen.

All three new inductees will officially join the Crescent City oval’s Hall of Fame in an induction ceremony to be held from 5-7 p.m. in the Black Gold Room. Tickets are still available at $25 apiece with proceeds going to the support of English classes for backstretch workers.

Salmen, a three-time New Orleans amateur golf champion, was known around the racetrack as the owner of Pago Hop (for whom a Fair Grounds stakes race is named) but also as the owner of A Letter to Harry.

Sandra Salmen of Fair Grounds’ horsemen’s relations and daughter of the late Mr. Salmen related a little-known story about A Letter to Harry, who went on to win the 1978 Michigan Mile as well as the 1979 New Orleans Handicap after Salmen’s death.

“The horse was supposed to be named A Letter to Hurry because he was a son of Hurry to Market,” Ms. Salmen said. “My father bought him after seeing him work at Keeneland, but when the Tokyo-born pinhooker had dictated his name to a secretary at the Jockey Club to name him before selling him privately to my father, the secretary had misunderstood the sometimes difficult Japanese pronunciation of ‘Hurry’ in second-language English and wrote down ‘Harry.’

“A Letter to Harry’s pinhooker was none other than Akiko McVarish,” Ms. Salmen said, “and when she remarried a few years later, she went on to a training career and saddled (Allen and Madelaine Paulson’s) K One King to an eighth-place finish in the (1999) Kentucky Derby as Akiko Gothard.

“All of my sisters and my stepmother will be here Monday night for the induction ceremony,” Ms. Salmen said. “We’re ecstatic that Fair Grounds has chosen to honor my father.

“My father loved the backstretch community,” Ms. Salmen concluded.  “He was a man who absolutely adored racing and the extended racing family of people who make up this incredible sport of ours.”

NAPRAVNIK, AMOSS LEAD JOCKEYS, TRAINERS AT SEASON’S THREE-QUARTER MARK

Two-time Fair Grounds defending jockey champion Rosie Napravnik was 24 wins in front of her nearest rival when the Fair Grounds season officially was three-quarters complete at the conclusion of Saturday’s races.

However, in the trainers’ standings, nine-time Fair Grounds trainer champion Tom Amoss tenaciously held on to a tenuous three-win advantage among the Crescent City oval’s leading conditioners.

Napravnik had ridden 84 winners, while current runner-up James Graham had 60, one more than John Jacinto and four more than Shaun Bridgmohan.

Amoss’s 30 wins were three more than current runner-up Bret Calhoun, who has never won a training title here but has been in a gallant battle with Amoss throughout this season. Also, increasingly involved in the leading trainer battle is 11-time leading trainer Steve Asmussen, who had 26 wins through the meeting’s three-quarter mark.

In the leading owners race by number of wins, two-time defending owner champion Maggi Moss was tied with former Kentucky governor Brereton Jones at 13 wins apiece, while the leading owner by money won was Jones with total earnings of $401,990 while Moss was a close second with $390,150 in earnings.

 

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