Despite the fact that this year’s Saratoga Race Course season might have to happen without fans, the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame has given horse racing fans something to get excited about. On May 6, the racing museum announced that it would be inducting seven new members in its 2020 Hall of Fame class, including Eclipse Award-winning jockey Darrel McHargue, 11-time Sovereign Award winner and Preakness Stakes-winning trainer Mark Casse and multiple Eclipse Award-winning Thoroughbred, Wise Dan.
“This year’s Hall of Fame class is certainly an exceptional one,” says the museum’s Communication Director Brien Bouyea (who also serves as Saratoga Living‘s Sports Editor). “Our contemporary selections, Mark Casse and Wise Dan, are among the sport’s most accomplished participants so far in the 21st century.” Indeed, Casse is one of North America’s top trainers, having already been inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame back in 2016, and winning two Triple Crown races in 2019, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes. As for Wise Dan, this champion Thoroughbred won 19 graded stakes between 2010 and 2014 and is the only racehorse in history to win the same three Eclipse Awards—American Horse of the Year, Champion Older Male and Champion Male Turf Horse—two years in a row.
Bouyea also points to a lot of diversity in this year’s class. In addition to Casse and Wise Dan, the full list of inductees includes Darrel McHargue, an Eclipse Award-winning jockey, who won a whopping 2,553 races in his career, including the ’75 Preakness; Tom Bowling, a legendary Travers winner from 1873; Alice Headley Chandler, a champion horse breeder and founder of the revered horse farm Mill Ridge Farm in Lexington, KY; Eclipse Award winner J. Keene Daingerfield, Jr., one of the sport’s most honored stewards; and George D. Widener, Jr., an owner, breeder and major influencer of 20th century American horse racing. “These individuals have impeccable reputations and have influenced the sport in numerous ways,” says Bouyea. “We’re really excited about this group.”
Even with the COVID-19 crisis still very much alive in New York, the Hall of Fame induction ceremony is, for now, tentatively scheduled for Friday, August 7 at the Fasig-Tipton sales pavilion. The museum will have more details about the ceremony in the coming weeks.