Despite the recent announcement of New York’s horse racing tracks reopening again in June without fans—and a Triple Crown hunt, beginning for the first time in history with the Belmont Stakes on June 20—it’s still been a tough year for racing fans. On May 21, Saratoga’s National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame announced that it would be canceling its 2020 Hall of Fame induction ceremony, as well as its popular Museum Ball. Both events were originally scheduled for August, and the cancelations come out of continued health and safety concerns caused by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
“We’re incredibly disappointed [that] we won’t be able to have these time-honored special events this summer, but the health concerns we’re facing right now take precedence,” says John Hendrickson, president of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. “The Hall of Fame ceremony is an experience we want to be able to share with the fans. With racing at Saratoga this summer likely to take place without spectators, we believe it’s in the best interests of everyone involved and for the integrity of the event to postpone the ceremony for a year.”
The 2020 Hall of Fame class—which includes such racing luminaries as star trainer Mark Casse, who won two Triple Crown races in 2019, and Eclipse Award-winning jockey Darrel McHargue—will be inducted next August alongside the 2021 inductees. As for the 44th Annual Museum Ball, one of the high-end highlights of Saratoga’s summer fundraising gala season, it too will return to the 2021 calendar in mid-August.
Even minus its two signature events, the museum still has a busy summer planned, whenever it’s allowed to begin letting fans through its doors again. It’s currently putting the finishing touches on a reimagined, tech-heavy Hall of Fame—slated to be unveiled on July 16, or the presumptive Opening Day at Saratoga Race Course—as well as developing a completely new website in partnership with The Jockey Club, which will also be launched this summer. “The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame will be back better than ever,” says Hendrickson. “We can’t wait to share with everyone all the work we’ve done to make our institution something everyone in the sport can be proud of. We look forward to welcoming everyone as soon as it is appropriate and safe to do so.”