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4/30/13

Tuscalee, a durable gelding whose 37 steeplechase victories remain an all-time record, last week became the seventh Maryland-bred to win election into the National Racing Hall of Fame.

Bred by owner Alfred H. Smith and trained by Joe (Leiter) Aitcheson Sr., Tuscalee earned distinction as outstanding Maryland-bred steeplechaser from 1966 through 1968. As a 6-year-old in ’66, the son of Tuscany and Verna Lee (by British Buddy) won a record 10 jumping races and finished second twice from 13 starts. Thoroughbred Racing Associations, which then voted separately for national champions, named Tuscalee steeplechaser of the year.

From 1963 through 1972, Tuscalee won 39 of 89 starts and earned $130,917. Hall of Fame jockey Joe Aitcheson Jr., the trainer’s son, said the little bay had more heart than any horse he ever rode.

Tuscalee won the National Hunt Cup four times, his last at age 12, and the Georgetown Steeplechase Handicap and Indian River Steeplechase twice each. Other notable victories included the Midsummer Hurdle, Clark Cup and Manly Steeplechase Handicap.

In addition to Tuscalee, the National Hall of Fame class of 2013 features flat runners Housebuster, Invasor (Arg) and Lure, steeplechaser McDynamo and jockey Calvin Borel.

Inductions are scheduled for Friday, Aug. 9, at 10:30 a.m. in the Fasig-Tipton Sales Pavilion on museum grounds in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Tuscalee follows flat-racing icons Challedon, Cigar, Gallorette and Safely Kept and steeplechase heroes Elkridge and Jay Trump as the only Maryland-breds to attain the
National Racing Hall of Fame. Tuscalee’s six predecessors, with Broad Brush, Find, Jameela, Politely, Twixt and Vertex, comprise the Maryland Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame’s 2013 inaugural class to be commemorated on Saturday, May 11, at Pimlico Race Course.

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