Historically, the trainers, owners and jockeys that have gotten the most ink—and to that end, been the centerpiece of the majority of museum exhibits on horse racing—have been men. But this summer, Saratoga Springs’ National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame is looking to change that. The museum will be unveiling a new, multimedia exhibition, highlighting the careers of the top women in racing, entitled Women in Racing, which opens in the museum’s McBean Gallery this Saturday, July 20.
“The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame is honored to shine a spotlight on some of the incredible stories of the women involved in Thoroughbred racing,” says Victoria Reisman, the museum’s curator. The Women in Racing exhibition will feature artwork, artifacts, photographs and multimedia pieces—both on loan and from the museum’s own collection—that highlight female jockeys, horse owners, breeders, trainers and executives, among others. Reisman says that the exhibit is designed to honor the role that women have played in the sport for more than a century, including historic trailblazers and contemporary innovators—as well as the six women inducted into the Hall of Fame. “This exhibition helps our museum fulfill its mission of preserving the history of Thoroughbred racing by giving a voice to more of the diverse and fascinating individuals in our sport,” says Reisman.
Exhibition highlights include a timeline of firsts for women in racing; an interactive, exploratory display, featuring short films and horse racing footage; the inaugural Diana Handicap trophy won by Mary Hirsch, the first-ever licensed female trainer; and artifacts, portraits and other items relating to trailblazing women in racing such as jockeys Wantha Davis and Julie Krone, owner Frances Genter (who owned Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled) and 2019 Hall of Fame Pillars of the Turf inductees Gladys Mills Phipps, Helen Hay Whitney and Marylou Whitney.
Museum-goers will also be able to share their own racing stories in a special interactive section of the exhibit which features a public message board and fun photo opportunities. “We realize that it’s impossible to share the story of every pioneer and trailblazer of the sport, so we encourage our visitors to share their own stories,” says Reisman.
Last summer, the museum presented a special Women in Racing symposium, which featured a panel discussion comprising seven big-name female athletes and professionals involved in various aspects of the sport. That event ultimately led the museum to launch this upcoming exhibit. An invitation-only opening reception and preview for the Women in Racing exhibit will be held on Friday, July 19 at 6pm. For more information, visit racingmuseum.org.