Louisville, Ky. Carolyn Hine was sworn to secrecy about her late husband Sonny Hine's election to the National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame.
"I had to tell one person," she said, her voice choked with emotion. "I went to the cemetery to tell Sonny."
Carolyn Hine blinked back tears as she talked Tuesday about the honor bestowed upon her husband, who died at age 69 in 2000.
Hine's best horse came late in his career with 1998 Horse of the Year Skip Away, who raced in Carolyn's name and was affectionately called "Skippy."
"My only regret is that my husband is not here to accept this. I'm a poor substitute," the 71-year-old Hine said. "We were married 38 years. We never had a vacation, a honeymoon and no children. He just didn't want to be away from the horses. He wanted everything for his horses, all the accolades, and for me."
Jockey Mike Smith was also elected Tuesday to the Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. The elected horses were Precisionist in the male thoroughbred category and Dance Smartly in the female category.
They will be inducted Aug. 4.
The 37-year-old Smith had planned to attend the announcement at Churchill Downs, but he was thrown from his mounts during two races Saturday at Hollywood Park. He plans to return to riding Thursday.
"I'm just too sore to be flying. I got some bumps and bruises," he said by phone.
But news of his election had Smith feeling better.
"When you make it in the Hall of Fame, that's the ultimate award," he said. "I wish I had words to describe how I feel."