Texas Hall of Fame Inducting 4 of Racing’s Renowned
By GREG MELIKOV
Bill Allen was asked a quarter-century ago why he was putting up 12 percent of the $3 million purse to supplement his Wild Again in the inaugural Breeders’ Cup Classic at Hollywood Park when the thoroughbred had no chance.
Allen, who organized and led Black Chip Stables, promptly predicted his horse was going to win and he was betting on it, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Wild Again went off at more than 31-1. The son of Icecapade led from the half-mile marker and won by a head in a rough-and-tumble race that prompted a stewards’ inquiry. Runner-up Gate Dancer was disqualified to third for interferring with favored Slew O’ Gold during the final furlong while the latter was advanced to second.
Allen, from Clarendon, TX, has been involved in horse racing for four decades. He is among four Texas Horse Racing Hall of Fame inductees that will be enshrined on Oct. 4.
Joe Straus Jr., a co-founder of Retama, follows his father into the Hall of Fame seven years later. Both were instrumental in bringing pari-mutuel racing to Texas in 1987 after a half-century absence.
“We have a great group of honorees this year,” Straus said. “I feel very humbled to be included.”
The late Dorothy Scharbauer Jr. – She owned and raced ’87 Kentucky Derby-Preakness champ Alysheba, winner of the ’88 BC Classic.
The Midland, TX, resident, who passed away three years ago, and her husband, Clarence, owned 400-acre Valor Farms in Pilot Point, TX, where they bred thoroughbreds and quarter horses.
Clarence Scharbauer became a member of the Hall of Fame in ’01. His wife’s father was Fred Turner Jr., who owned ’59 Derby winner Tomy Lee.
Bobby Cox – He made a name for himself breeding and racing quarter horses. He won the All American Derby at Ruidoso Downs with Brimmerton in ’04, when he was the American Quarter Horse Association Owner of the Year, and with Don’t Let Down in ’07. The Fort Worth area resident also is a member of the AQHA Hall of Fame.
Allen Moehrig will receive the Texas Heritage Award for achievements in the industry presented by the Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors.
He co-bred quarter horse racing’s only Triple Crown winner, Special Effort, who swept the three Grade 1s at Ruidosa in ’81.
“Allen Moehrig has been making quarter horse history for over 40 years in Texas,” Straus said. “What he and his wife, Jeanette, have done with a small breeding farm near Seguin is truly remarkable.”
This year’s JoAnn Weber Distinguished Service Award, named for the first Hall of Fame executive director, goes to Mary Ruyle.
She began as a bookkeeper in ’88 for the Texas Thoroughbred Association and rose through the ranks to business manager. Known as the ultimate team player, Ruyle earlier this year was presented the Allen Bogan Memorial Award as TTA Member of the Year.
Veteran racing announcer Frank Mirahmadi will emcee the 10th Hall of Fame ceremony, which begins late that Saturday afternoon before a night of racing featuring six stakes races with purses totaling $500,000.
The analyst for the TVG interactive racing network, who emceed the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association awards in 2003 and 2007, is a master impressionist of fellow announcers as well as celebrities calling races.
Mirahmadi has a Retama connection. He sent out tapes after “calling my first two races at Hollywood Park in 1992. One of the people I sent a tape to was (Retama President) Bob Quigley, who was very supportive. He did say, however, that he needed to hear what my voice sounded like calling a race, not impressions.”
So in ’94, Mirahmadi found Michael Wrona, who announced a short meeting at Player’s Bluegrass Downs in Paducah, KY. He was invited that fall to call three races on a Saturday and three more the following Sunday.
“I was able to get two decent calls out of that visit,” Mirahmadi recalled, “included it on the tape I sent to Retama. Ironically, Wrona was hired at Retama. But that tape got me a four-day fill-in gig at Hialeah in 1995, which led to my appointment there in 1996.”
The 40-year-old native of Los Angeles, who also was track announcer at Fair Grounds and Louisiana Downs as well as at various race meetings on the California Fair Circuit, is the new race caller at Turf Paradise this fall.
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