On Wednesday, August 8 the New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) announced that world-class trainer Bob Baffert will be inducted into the Saratoga Walk of Fame on August 24, the same date as the New York Showcase Day (more on that later).
Baffert is only one of two trainers in Thoroughbred racing history to capture multiple Triple Crown titles (and saratoga living did an exclusive interview with Mr. Baffert for our recent The Races! issue). He first won in 2015, with American Pharoah (the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978) and again this year with the now illustrious Justify. “Saratoga is very dear to me and to be recognized in this manner with a plaque in the Walk of Fame is something special,” said Baffert. His plaque will be joining luminaries on the Walk of Fame such as Allen Jerkens, Wayne Lukas and Bill Mott. But Baffert’s track record (pun intended) doesn’t stop with the Triple Crown winners he’s trained. He’s also won 11 Grade 1 victories at the Saratoga Race Course, including three Travers victories (two of which were in 2016 and 2017 with Arrogate and West Coast, respectively), even setting a new track record with a time of 1:59.36 with Arrogate. In addition to all this, over the course of Baffert’s career, which has spanned more than four decades, the famous trainer has fetched 15 victories in Triple Crown races, won four Eclipse Awards for Outstanding Trainer (incredibly, he won three years in a row: 1997-99) and was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2009.
“Bob’s achievements have firmly established him as one of the most successful trainers in modern history,” said NYRA CEO and President Chris Kay. “It is with sincere pleasure that we welcome Bob to the Walk of Fame to take his place alongside the other greats of the game.” Opened in 2015, the Saratoga Walk of Fame honors the accomplishments and talents of those who have made important contributions to the sport of Thoroughbred racing. The Walk of Fame features plaques, memorabilia and videos honoring the best of the best in racing, including jockeys, trainers, owners and more. Guests to this year’s Red Jacket Ceremony will also get a glimpse of the new Triple Crown trophy, which was commissioned by NYRA on behalf of Triple Crown Productions and designed and created by world-renowned sculptor Robert Santo.
Prior to the opening of the Saratoga Walk of Fame, the greats of Thoroughbred racing were recognized with the Red Jacket Ceremony (started in 2013), named for the titular red jackets awarded each year. This year’s Red Jacket Ceremony will also take place on one of the biggest events of the summer for Saratoga Race Course: New York Showcase Day on August 24. New York Showcase Day will feature six stakes exclusively for New York-bred horses, including the $250,000 Albany for 3-year-olds and the $200,000 Funny Cide for up-and-coming Thoroughbreds. On top of this, the New York Showcase comes just one day before what is easily the biggest event of the summer track meet, the 149th running of the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers Stakes.
So start making your plans now because it’s going to be a busy weekend (and tickets sell out quickly). Travers Day grandstand and clubhouse tickets are available online at nyra.com or in-person at the NYRA Box Office at Saratoga Race Course.