Mike Manganello

Induction Year : 2018

Sport: Horse Racing

Mike Manganello reached the pinnacle of a jockey’s career when he won the world’s most famous horse race: the Kentucky Derby.

Manganello was in the saddle of Dust Commander in 1970 when they upset the 96th running of the Run for the Roses. The margin of victory was five lengths, thanks largely in part to Manganello’s rail-hugging ride that helped save the colt valuable ground in the testing 1¼-mile race.

A native of Hartford, Conn., Manganello was far from a one-race wonder. In a career that spanned nearly 30 years, and included five Kentucky Derby mounts, Manganello won the Blue Grass Stakes (on Dust Commander), the Ohio Derby at Thistledown, and numerous riding titles.

Manganello scored his first winner at the age of 18 in 1960 at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans. Soon afterward, he moved his family to Bedford Heights and began a stretch of successful seasons at tracks around Greater Cleveland: Thistledown, Randall Park and Cranwood.

His domination of the jocks’ colony saw him win or share every Thistledown championship from 1964 through 1968. He also added Randall and Cranwood crowns.

Manganello was aboard Te Vega in the 1968 Ohio Derby as the colt became the first Ohio-bred to win the state’s most prestigious race.

The pull of the Blue Grass State eventually landed Manganello at Churchill Downs, Keeneland and Turfway Park, a move that led to his association with Don Combs, the trainer of Dust Commander.

In the winter, Manganello rode at Sunshine Park (now Tampa Bay Downs) where he won six riding titles. It’s also where he registered his 2,500thcareer winner.

But it’s the Kentucky Derby victory that Manganello will be best remembered for. He says to this day he can feel the song “My Old Kentucky Home” reverberating through his body.

Jeff Radosevich

Induction Year : 2016

Sport: Horse Racing

Jeff Radosevich earned his way into the Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame by making thoroughbred racing history at Thistledown.

Some of the greatest jockeys in North American have won titles at Thistledown; among them Kentucky Derby champions Bill Hartack, Bobby Ussery and Mike Manganello, as well as 2011 Hall inductee, Tony Rini.

The same holds true for trainers. Loyd Gentry, who saddled 1967 Kentucky Derby winner Proud Clarion, was a champion in Cleveland.

But none of these men have accomplished what Radosevich has at Thistledown. Not only is he a champion jockey (1988), Radosevich has gone on to be a champion trainer (eight times, the first in 2005), making him the first and only horseman in Greater Cleveland racing history to prevail on a thoroughbred as well as at one’s side.

Radosevich retired from riding in 1993 after suffering a broken leg, the result of a race spill. As a jockey he had rebounded from five broken arms, four broken collarbones and a broken foot.

He immediately began training horses, and 20 years later continues to be Thistledown’s top trainer. Radosevich has ranked in the Top 10 winningest horsemen in North America in three of the last 12 years.

Jeff is from a large racing family. His father, Joe, as well as brothers, Joey and Jake, are horse trainers.

Radosevich won his first race as a jockey at Thistledown on November 9, 1980. He was 19. He also won his first race as a trainer at the North Randall track on December 10, 1993.

Radosevich hit a training milestone last year. On December 12 he saddled his 2,000th career winner at Mahoning Valley Race Course in suburban Youngstown.

A native of Joliet, Illinois, Radosevich has a farm in Geauga County where he lives with his wife Yvonne and their children.

Tony Rini

Induction Year : 2011

Sport: Horse Racing

Tony Rini is arguably the most accomplished jockey ever born in northeastern Ohio.  He’s also the most courageous.  And to the delight of his friends and acquaintances, he’s probably the funniest.

Rini is the third thoroughbred jockey inducted into the Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame.  He joins Danny Weiler, a former rival and one of his best friends, and the late Michael Rowland who rode for Rini when Tony turned to training.

It was a horrific accident during training hours at Oaklawn Park  in 1983 that ended Rin’s 24 years in the saddle, a career that saw him win 2,438 races and account for more than $10 million in purse earnings.

The accident left Rini with a broken back and a paralyzed left arm.  Doctors, after telling Rini he might never walk again, asked him if he would like to speak with a psychiatrist.  They feared he would attempt to kill himself.  He cautioned them that if they found him dead in the following moring, that he hadn’t done it.

Rini, born in Cleveland and reared on the near West Side, was introduced to racing at the Berea Fairgrounds where he hauled water buckets until a trainer gave him a leg up on a horse.

He won his first race at Thistledown in 1959 aboard Date Me.  It launched him on a path to nine riding titles at Thistledown and Randall Park.  He swept all four Thistledown riding championships in 1970 and his 287 winners that year ranked hm fourth in North America.

The outstanding season graduated Rini to the top level of racing at tracks like Churchill Downs, Keeneland and Arlington Park.

Rini participated in two Kentucky Derbys, finishing 19th on Jr.’s Arrowhead in 1971 and ninth aboard Chief Dixieland in 1978.  He did win the 1972 Illinois Derby on Fame and Power and returned home to win the 1973 Ohio Derby with Our Native.  Rini is now a trainer at Thistledown.  Among the riders he uses is his son, Wade Rini.

Michael Rowland

Induction Year : 2006

Sport: Horse Racing

There is no way of knowing if Michael Rowland would have succeeded in his quest for the 4,000th victory of his career that day. All that is certain is his mount, the prophetically named World Trade, was leading the seventh race at Kentucky’s Turfway Park on February 4, 2004 when it fractured a leg and collapsed, throwing Rowland to the ground where he was struck by the two horses immediately behind him. Less than five days later, the 41-year-old rider, who had hoped to become just the 43rd rider nationally to accumulate 4,000 victories, instead became the 144th jockey to die of racing injuries in North America since 1940. It was a particularly sad day for horse racing fans in Cleveland where Rowland had been operating from Thistledown as his home base for most of his 24 years as a rider. He had won 29 meet titles, both all-time track records, and he twice won six races in a day, tying an Ohio thoroughbred racing record. Among his most notable victories in Cleveland were the first runnings of the $200,000 Best of Ohio Endurance Championship in 1987 and the Grade 3 Thistledown Budweiser Breeders’ Cup in 1997. A native of Saratoga Springs, NY, where he learned his trade from his father, who was a successful harness trainer. He was also married to a trainer, Tammy, whom he met at Keeneland Rack Track and who was working at Turfway Park at the time of his fatal accident.
(Deceased)

Danny Weiler

Induction Year : 1996

Sport: Horse Racing

Danny Weiler won his 3,000th career victory at the age of 46 in 1983, enroute to becoming one of just 36 riders in thoroughbred racing history to have ridden over 3,500 winners. A large percentage of those victories came at Cleveland’s Thistledown Race Track where he won over a dozen Thistledown meet titles, beginning in 1960. He got a strong leg up on those many triumphs on August 12, 1961 by winning six races in one day, a feat accomplished just nine times in the track’s long history. He was also a four-time winner of Thistledown’s long-prestigious darling Nellie Gray Handicap.