Driving down Union Avenue in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., is like entering a part of horse racing heaven.
The candy red and white tops of the historic racetrack shine above the tree line bordering the road, Fasig Tipton bounds the other side of the road and the most likely cause of traffic is Thoroughbreds crossing the street for morning training.
A scenic drive like no other, the National Racing Museum and Hall of Fame has added its own unique sentiment to the street with the addition of 37 lawn jockeys now affirming their position along Union Avenue in front of the museum.
The addition of the intricate lawn jockeys would not have been possible without John Hendrickson, vice president of the museum and husband of Saratoga socialite Marylou Whitney, who organized the fundraiser in a dual effort to benefit the museum and decorate the prestigious racing town a little more. People were given a five-year commitment in exchange for a $10,000 donation to the museum.
“We think this is a terrific way to raise money for the museum and also to beautify Union Avenue,” Hendrickson said. “It really is spectacular and I think it showcases what racing is all about – it’s beauty and pageantry and this is part of it.”
As well as the addition of the lawn jockeys, the museum welcomed another new exhibit to the public to coincide with Opening Day – a Tony Leonard photographic exhibition Racing’s Greatest and America’s Oldest: Selections from the Tony Leonard Collection.
Leonard spent nearly 50 years photographing some of the world’s top influences in racing. The museum’s latest exhibit includes features of Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Alydar, Jorge Velasquez, Pat Day, Chris McCarron, and many others.
“We are thrilled the photographic work of Tony Leonard here at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in our newest special exhibition,” said Victoria Reisman, the museum’s curator. “Racing’s Greatest and America’s Oldest celebrates some of the biggest names in the sport and showcases memorable moments in the rich history of Saratoga Race Course.”