New project set for Saratoga's 150th anniversary

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (AP) -- They're saddling up to celebrate the 150 years of thoroughbred racing in Saratoga Springs by borrowing a page from Hollywood and establishing a "Hoofprints Walk of Fame."

Local tourism and New York Racing Association officials gathered Tuesday at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame to announce the new project to pay tribute to the most accomplished thoroughbreds to compete at Saratoga Race Course over the past century and a half.

The Walk of Fame will be installed just outside the clubhouse gates and feature an inaugural class of 30 horses. Each thoroughbred will be represented by a granite plaque with information on its owner, trainer, jockey and signature wins at Saratoga.

Installation of the plaques will begin this spring and be completed before the track's opening day on July 19. The racing season runs through Labor Day.

"I hope future generations will be inspired and humbled to see the hoofprints of some of the greatest athletes that ever lived," said socialite Marylou Whitney, a longtime thoroughbred owner and breeder who lives in Saratoga.

Modeled after the Hollywood Walk of Fame, where celebrities' stars are embedded in sidewalks, Saratoga's version will include in its first class Triple Crown winners Affirmed, Secretariat, War Admiral and Whirlaway, along with several winners of the Travers Stakes, Saratoga's signature race held each August.

Saratoga Race Course is oldest continuously-operating sports venue in the United States. The first races were held in August 1863. The following summer, the current track was opened across the road from the first site.