Born: November 30, 1942 in Port Arthur, Texas
Hal Wiggins was born in 1942 in Port Arthur, Texas. He graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in 1960.
As a young teenager, he spent the summer of 1958 working for W. A. “Ab” Simpson at Ruidoso Downs. Mr. Simpson was the leading trainer at Ruidoso Downs in 1957.
Hal attended Texas A & M University, receiving a BBA Degree in Management in January 1966. After working in the business world, he embarked on a training career that lasted over thirty years. He started his career in Louisiana and for the last sixteen years he was based at Churchill Downs in Kentucky. He was licensed to train in at least 15 states and was a leading trainer at Louisiana Downs, Keeneland Race Course, and Kentucky Downs.
Hal had the privilege of training Rachel Alexandra from her two-year-old year through winning the 2009 Kentucky Oaks. Rachel was awarded Champion Three-year-old Filly and Horse of the Year in 2009. She has also been inducted into The National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame.
Hal amassed a record of 872 wins, with $20,221,625 in earnings. In his career, Hal trained horses captured victories in a multitude of stakes races, which included wins in four Grade 2 stakes, one Grade 3 stakes, and one Grade 1 event.
The multiple-stakes winning Chorwon became Hal’s first-millionaire trainee, as he rattled off victories in the G3 Kentucky Turf Cup at Kentucky Downs, a three-time winner of the Louisville Handicap at Churchill Downs, two-time winner of the John Connally Breeders’ Cup Turf at Sam Houston Race Park, and a six-place finish in the 2001 Breeders Cup Turf at Belmont Park. Chorwon retired with $1.161.795 in career earnings.
Other horses trained by Hal included multiple stakes-winning Morris Code ($745,167), stakes winner Jake The Flake ($553,851), multiple stakes-winning Leo’s Gypsy Dancer ($457,263), stakes winner Red Mountain ($421,776), multiple stakes-winning Rapid Proof ($506,338), multiple stakes-winning Swingit ($345,353).
After retiring in the Fall of 2009, Hal served as Steward at Fair Grounds Race Course during their 2014-15 and 2015-16 race meets. He received the designation of Accredited Steward in February 2015. He also served as the Racing Integrity Officer at Oaklawn Park for the 2018 and 2019 season. Hal served as association steward at Kentucky Downs 2019-21 and at Oaklawn Park 2020-21.
In 2009, the Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners Association presented Hal with the “Warner L. Jones, Jr. “Horseman of the Year Award.” He was also presented in 2010, “The Dean Eagle Memorial Award for outstanding contributions to the thoroughbred industry” by Bishop Spaulding Council 2761, Knights of Columbus. Also, in 2017, the Thoroughbred Charities of America honored him as the Award of Merit Recipient for Texas. In 2020, Hal was inducted into the Texas Horse Racing Hall of Fame and the Museum of the Gulf Coast Hall of Fame.
Hal is a Lifetime Member of the Texas Thoroughbred Association and served on the Board of Directors 2010-17. He served as President 2015-16. He was also President of the Paddock Foundation 2013-17. This foundation is a non-profit corporation of TTA supporting the care of thoroughbred race horses after their racing careers by supporting rescue, retirement, rehabilitation and retraining. Hal has also served on the Board of Directors of the Ruidoso Jockey Club 2017-2020.
Hal is a Regional Director of the Race Track Chaplaincy of America since 2019. He served on the Pete Pedersen Award Nominating Committee, 2018-19 and the 2019 Godolphin Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards Final Judging Panel.