For more than three quarters of a century the fashionable old club house at Saratoga Race Track, sheltered amidst its tree-shaded lawns, has seen notable personages and manners of several eras of race track history, and some of the turf's greatest horses. Across from its entrance gates stands the National Museum of Racing, a shrine to honor and perpetuate the tradition of Saratoga, which to many is the dowager queen of American running courses. Beginning this week, and for the balance of the week which runs through Aug. 31, hundreds of track buffs will cross Union Avenue and succumb to the nostalgia of racing lore.
Completed two years ago, the colonial red-brick, white-columned building serves as a permanent home for an ever-growing collection of distinguished paintings and racing memorabilia. It thrives under the presidency of Walter M. Jeffords, noted sportsman and horse owner. In the museum are housed the racing silks (right) of most of the great stables of America. In a long glass case that circles the main gallery, the colors that have been watched by thousands of eager eyes on hundreds of tracks hang shimmering in dignified profusion.
Above the silks, and in several other galleries, hang fine old and contemporary paintings of immortals among the breed of racing Thoroughbreds. Horse lovers will be moved by the impressively handsome canvas painted by F. B. Voss in 1919 of Man o' War as a 2-year-old. Or by the Konrad portrait of Sun Beau, high money winner until he was toppled from his throne by Seabiscuit. Or by paintings (in the room shown at right) of Citation, Hill Prince, Gallant Fox, Equipoise, War Admiral, Iriquoise, Epinard, Mahmoud, Domino or Native Dancer—names that ring with the excitement of the winner's circle.
A painting of the first Futurity, run at the Coney Island Jockey Club in 1888 (at upper left in color page), is a glimpse of a golden era, and cases of gleaming trophies are tangible proof of the delights of winning.
This season a new wing has been opened at the museum to house the portraits of the men whom the museum honors as Patrons of the Turf. This gallery of sportsmen is a distinguished one, and the roster, beginning with George Washington, includes James B. Haggin, John Banks Campbell, William Woodward, Elisha Warfield, Leonard Jerome, Francis Morris, George D. Widener, William C. Whitney, Joseph E. Widener, Matt Winn, William R. Travers, Stephen Sanford, Barak G. Thomas, Andrew Jackson, James R. Keene, Sanders D. Bruce and J. K. G. Lawrence.