Last weekend, the Saratoga 150 Committee announced two new inductees into the Hoofprints Walk of Fame at Saratoga Race Course: 1979 Travers Stakes winner General Assembly and champion horse Checkmate. The Hoofprints Walk of Fame, which is modeled after the famous celebrity walk in LA’s Chinatown, is right outside the clubhouse gates of Saratoga Race Course. The Walk was set up in 2013, in celebration of the track’s 150th anniversary, and each horse along it is memorialized with a bronze plaque that contains the Thoroughbred’s name, year of birth, signature wins at Saratoga, as well as the names of its owner, trainer, jockey and a symbolic hoofprint in the center (the hoofprints are not meant to be authentic prints).
With General Assembly and Checkmate, that brings the total of inductees into the Hoofprints Walk of Fame to 40, including the most famous names in Thoroughbred racing history such as Secretariat, Man o’ War and Affirmed. John Hendrickson, President of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame and Saratoga 150’s Honorary Chair, along with his wife, Marylou Whitney, created the Walk of Fame and brought it to fruition in conjunction with the Saratoga 150 Committee. “These equine athletes competed at their highest level and have become part of the rich history of Saratoga Race Course,” said Hendrickson. “It’s a privilege to recognize the real stars of this sport at the Hoofprints Walk of Fame where they are permanently enshrined.”
General Assembly was owned by Bertram and Diana Firestone, trained by LeRoy Jolley and ridden by Darrel McHargue and Jacinto Vasquez. General Assembly has an affinity for Saratoga Race Course where he won the 1978 Hopeful and Saratoga Special. His most memorable moment, however, was when he won the Travers Stakes in 1979 and set a course record at the classic distance of a mile and a quarter in a staggering 2:00 (the record was finally broken by Bob Baffert-trained Arrogate in 2016).
Checkmate was another horse with a strong affiliation with Saratoga. His owner was James T. Williams and he was trained by James Rowe and ridden by Edward Feakes and Isaac Murphy. Checkmate became a multiple stakes winner at Saratoga in 1880, and in 1881 won seven of eight races, including four stakes. For the Walk of Fame, horses are considered for inclusion based on their accomplishments in major stakes races at Saratoga Race Course.
This summer’s meet at Saratoga will run through September 3 and will feature 69 stakes races worth a total of $18.8 million in purse money. So get down to the track and watch a few featured races. You never know; you might just see the next horse to be featured on the Hoofprints Walk of Fame that day.