03/26/2013 2:54PM

Saratoga Hoofprints Walk of Fame to honor top horses in track history

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Robin Litfin
The Saratoga Hoofprints Walk of Fame will honor 30 horses in its inaugural class, including Man o' War.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – As soon as Mother Nature permits, construction is to begin on a new attraction designed to honor the top Thoroughbreds to race at Saratoga during the past 150 years, it was announced at a Tuesday press conference at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame by the Saratoga 150 Committee and the New York Racing Association.

Billed as the Saratoga Hoofprints Walk of Fame and modeled after the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame, the attraction celebrating the 150th anniversary of Saratoga Race Course will be installed in the walkway outside the clubhouse gates. It will feature an inaugural class of 30 horses, each to be honored on a granite plaque alongside the names of its sire, dam, owner, trainer, and jockey. The plaques also will feature the horse’s year of birth and signature wins at the storied track.

The inductees were revealed during a “live draw” hosted by NYRA track announcer Tom Durkin, using the Whitney family trophy won by Equipoise in the 1932 Whitney Handicap.

“Celebrating 150 years since the birth of racing would not have been complete unless we honored the historic athletes who helped make Saratoga Race Course the No. 1 racetrack in the country,” said John Hendrickson, a Saratoga 150 Committee honorary chair, who conceptualized the project in conjunction with the committee. “I always thought there should be some way to recognize the real stars of the sport, and the Hoofprints Walk of Fame will be a unique and educational retrospective of our history.”

Mary Lou Whitney, also an honorary chair and widely regarded as a premier philanthropic figure in the Spa City, added: “I hope future generations will be inspired and humbled to see the hoofprints of some of the greatest athletes that have ever lived. Saratoga was fortunate to host these amazing stars.”

The project, a collaborative effort between NYRA, the Saratoga 150 Committee, and the National Museum of Racing, will be unveiled in advance of the 2013 summer meet.

“The Hoofprints Walk of Fame is a true testament to the unsurpassed level of history and outstanding sportsmanship that has taken place in the last 150 years at Saratoga Race Course,” said Rodnell Workman, vice president and chief marketing officer for NYRA.

The selection committee was led by lifelong Saratoga resident Michael Veitch, a turf writer for the Saratogian newspaper since 1979 and a trustee of the National Museum of Racing.

“These horses were selected as a result of their outstanding records at Saratoga Race Course,” Veitch said. “With this first group, we have chosen to honor outstanding Thoroughbreds from the 19th and 20th centuries. This is only the first step in recognizing the many stars of Saratoga racing history.”

The inaugural class of inductees, in alphabetical order, is: Affirmed, Alydar, Beldame, Chief’s Crown, Discovery, Duke of Magenta, Easy Goer, Eight Thirty, Emperor of Norfolk, Equipoise, Exterminator, Go for Wand, Granville, Harry Bassett, Heavenly Prize, Henry of Navarre, Kelso, Kentucky, Lady’s Secret, Man o’ War, Native Dancer, Regret, Roamer, Ruthless, Secretariat, Sky Beauty, Tom Fool, Top Flight, War Admiral, and Whirlaway.

Heavy load for Head Heart Hoof

Thursday’s program at Aqueduct is headlined by race 3, a $50,000 starter handicap in which Head Heart Hoof – the winner of the Toboggan and third in the Tom Fool in his last two starts – will shoulder the top weight of 127 pounds and concede as much as 11 pounds to Ancient Rome, Blind Hope, Cayambe, Pleaseandthankyou, and Shotgun City.

The richest race of the day is the eighth, an optional claimer with first-level allowance conditions for fillies and mares that carries a $62,000 purse.

Expression heads a six-horse field that also includes Elusive Jozi, Hold It, Hot Roots, Sacred Success, and Vinda.