The class consists of trainer Ron Dandy, jockey Henry Wajda, owner and breeder Francis “Skip” McDonnell, Narragansett Park co-founder James “Judge” Dooley, and reporter and handicapper Bob Waldo.
Henry Wajda of Newmarket, NH was one of the premier riders on the New England circuit before his life came to a tragic end at age 39 when he died from injuries suffered in a riding accident at Rockingham Park in 1973. Wajda was a dominant force in the region in the late 1950s and early 1960s, capturing five meet titles at Rockingham Park (1958, ’60, ’61, ’63 and ’64) and four at Suffolk Downs (1961-63, ’66). His 266 victories in 1963 were good for fifth in the country.
Francis “Skip” McDonnell of New Hampshire bred and owned numerous New England champions in his lifetime, including Cimarron Secret, Nana’s Toy and Sandy Gator. McDonnell and trainer George Handy were jointly honored by the NETWA with the 2001 Lou Smith Award for yearly achievement to New England racing and McDonnell was also the recipient of the NETWA’s McCracken Award for lifetime achievement in 2007. McDonnell passed away in 2009.
James E. "Judge" Dooley was one of the initial investors and founders of Narragansett Park racetrack and was instrumental in legalizing pari-mutuel wagering in Rhode Island. After 15 years of trying, Dooley finally won General Assembly approval of the legislation in 1934 and the track was built in two months and opened that same year. Dooley first served as secretary of the Narragansett Racing Association before becoming president in 1938, a position he held until his death in 1960.
The late Bob Waldo worked alongside Dave Wilson to produce the highly regarded "Green Sheet" for the Boston Record American. He worked 44 years for the Record American and later the Boston Herald, covering racing across New England. In addition to his career as a turf writer, he also served in the Army Air Corps during World War II.
The names of this year's inductees will be added to a plaque that is on permanent display in the New England Thoroughbred racing exhibit at the Sports Museum located in the TD Banknorth Garden.
The panel of voters consisted of current active NETWA members. A two-thirds majority among the voters was required for election.
Tickets for the awards dinner are $60 each and tables of ten are available for $600. To purchase tickets, call 617 568-3220.