Fisher Elected to Hall of Fame

Two-time Eclipse Award winner and Hall of Famer Good Night Shirt, along with trainer Jack Fisher and Willie Dowling following their victory in the 2008 Lonesome Glory Stakes at Belmont Park. Photo by Tod Marks

By National Racing Hall of Fame with additional reporting by Tod Marks

Thirteen-time leading National Steeplechase Association trainer Jack Fisher has been elected to the National Racing Hall of Fame in Saratoga, and will be enshrined during ceremonies in Saratoga Springs on Aug. 6. 

Joining Fisher are Triple Crown winner American Pharoah and seven-time Eclipse Award-winning flat trainer Todd Pletcher. American Pharoah and Pletcher were elected in the contemporary category in their first year of eligibility and Fisher was chosen by the Museum’s Steeplechase Review Committee, which meets once every four years. 

Because the Covid-19 pandemic caused the 2020 ceremonies to be cancelled, this year’s event will include those inductees from last year: trainer Mark Casse, jockey Darrel McHargue, horses Tom Bowling and Wise Dan, and Pillars of the Turf Alice Headley Chandler, J. Keene Daingerfield, Jr., and George D. Widener, Jr. The ceremonies will be broadcast live on the Museum website at www.racingmuseum.org, and an announcement will be made at a later date regarding public attendance.

The 57-year-old Fisher, a native of Unionville, Pa., won his first race as a trainer in 1988 at Middleburg, Va., with Call Louis, and he has been a dominant force on top of the NSA standings for the past 20 years. 

He topped all steeplechase trainers in wins for the first time in 2003 and has led the list an additional 12 times since. In 2004, he led the earnings list for the first of eight times. Fisher has ranked in the top five in both NSA wins and earnings each of the past two decades.

Through last weekend, Fisher has won 593 career steeplechase races and ranks second all-time in purse earnings with more than $17.8 million, trailing only recently retired Hall of Famer Jonathan Sheppard. Fisher is the only jump racing trainer to surpass $1 million in purse earnings in a year, something he has accomplished five times.

The last time the steeplechase community was represented at the Hall of Fame induction was in 2017, when the late trainer Tom Voss and two-time Eclipse-Award winner Good Night Shirt — trained by Fisher — received honors.

Good Night Shirt won 10 graded stakes, including eight G1s, and twice set the single-season NSA earnings record. Fisher also trained Eclipse Award winners Scorpiancer (2017) and Moscato (2020). Included in his current stable are European star Footpad, just beginning his U.S. career, and the highly accomplished Snap Decision, who has won eight straight for Bruton Street-US, which also campaigns Moscato. Snap Decision made his 2021 bow last weekend, capturing the G2 Temple Gwathmey Stakes impressively at the Middleburg Spring Races. 

Overall, Fisher has trained numerous champions in various divisions: timber stars Bubble Economy, Call Louis, Charlie’s Dewan, Doc Cebu, Gus’s Boy, Saluter, and Two’s Company; novice champions All Together, Paradise’s Boss, Moscato, and Snap Decision; filly and mare champions Footlights and Ivy Mills; and 3-year-old champions Hope For Us All, Ice It, Machete Road, Schoodic, and South Of Java.

Fisher has won six Gwathmeys, five runnings of the Iroquois, four A. P. Smithwicks, three Lonesome Glorys, and both the Colonial Cup and Grand National twice. With timber champion Saluter, Fisher won six consecutive editions of the Virginia Gold Cup and four runnings of the Virginia Hunt Cup. Fisher has won the Virginia Gold Cup 12 times as a trainer and nine times as a rider — both records. Fisher rode Saluter to each of his Gold Cup victories. According to Equibase, Fisher won 57 races as a jockey with earnings of $953,243, including $394,189 as Saluter’s pilot. 

“I’ve always loved being around horses. It’s been my life,” Fisher told the Hall of Fame. “I was terrible in school and didn’t want to be there. I loved riding and I love training. I learned a lot from my father (trainer John Fisher) and from guys like (Hall of Fame trainers) Mikey Smithwick and Tommy Voss. They were examples to me of the work it takes to be successful and also how they built a good team. You can’t do it alone. 

“I’ll never forget horses like Call Louis and Woody Boy Would and Saluter that made my career at the beginning. They got the ball rolling for me. Saluter was really the one. My license plate says Saluter on it. He meant everything. I’ve had some wonderful and patient owners and great talent in the barn. To have horses like Good Night Shirt, Scorpiancer, Moscato, and Snap Decision has been incredible beyond words. I’m pretty darn lucky.”
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