New signature film "What It Takes" highlights National Museum of Racing's state-of-the-art Hall of Fame experience

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame reopened to the public on Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020. The Museum had been closed since January 2020 for the installation of a new state-of-the-art Hall of Fame experience as well as multiple new and updated exhibitions. The Museum has put in place a number of enhanced safety protocols in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and is a Saratoga Cares Stay Safe Pledge institution with a commitment to the health of Saratoga County residents, workers, and visitors.

The Museum is currently open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The new signature film, What It Takes: Journey to the Hall of Fame, is currently being shown daily at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. Per New York State health policies, the Museum will open with a maximum of 24 visitors admitted every two hours. Guests are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance online at Hand sanitizer stations will be available throughout the Museum and the floor has been marked to create an easy-to-follow route through the building, with added markers reminding guests to practice social distancing. Face coverings are mandatory for all guests. 

“We’re very excited to be open to the public and have the opportunity to share with everyone all the incredible projects that we’ve been working on,” said John Hendrickson, the Museum’s president. “We set out with an ambitious goal of being the best and most interactive hall of fame in the country. I believe we have accomplished that goal. Our great sport deserves a showcase venue that everyone can be proud of. This is a game-changer for the Museum and it is everything we hoped it would be when we began the process to reimagine and enliven our institution. The Museum is now an essential destination that can’t be missed.”

What It Takes: Journey to the Hall of Fame is a 16-minute film that brings viewers on an amazing journey through the various aspects of thoroughbred racing and examines the rare honor — given to less than one percent of the sport’s participants — of reaching the game’s pinnacle and earning a coveted spot in the Hall of Fame. The immersive theatrical experience conveys the exhilaration of the sport of thoroughbred racing in America, the passion behind the heritage of the game, and the thrill of exploring the stories of  “what it takes” to be among the greatest of the greats in the Hall of Fame.

Filmed and produced by Donna Lawrence Productions of Louisville, Ky., and narrated by famed broadcaster Bob Costas, What It Takes: Journey to the Hall of Fame, features original footage shot in 8K resolution from various racetracks and thoroughbred farms throughout the country. Numerous Hall of Fame inductees are highlighted in revealing interviews about their experience in the sport and what it took for them to earn racing’s highest honor. Hall of Famers featured include Bob Baffert, Javier Castellano, Angel Cordero, Jr., Pat Day, D. Wayne Lukas, Richard Mandella, Chris McCarron, Shug McGaughey, Bill Mott, Carl Nafzger, Mike Smith, Gary Stevens, and John Velazquez, among others.

Following the film, guests are invited to learn about the careers of the Hall of Fame inductees on the theater’s nine interactive stations. Each of the 459 Hall of Fame inductees are represented through an in-depth digital plaque, media gallery, and achievements page. More than 100 videos and 2,500 photographs are included in the interactive Hall of Fame exhibit with more media content to be added and updated regularly. Each visitor will be provided a stylus with admission to use on all the touchscreen interactive exhibits throughout the Museum.

Along with the new signature film and interactive Hall of Fame experience, the Museum has made several other exciting new additions and updates. Some of those include:

Race Day Gallery

The Museum’s new Race Day Gallery provides both a gateway to build excitement for the Hall of Fame experience and a transition for visitors following the show. Three areas of the racetrack experience are featured — The Paddock, The Track, and The Winner’s Circle — introducing visitors to the essential elements of a day at the races.

The Paddock section explores the relationship between racehorses and their human connections prior to a race. Artifact cases showcase the equipment used during races, while large graphics and a slideshow of images from the Museum Collection illustrate the beauty of various paddocks at American racetracks. The Track section is where America’s most famous racing venues are highlighted, noting their historical significance through the use of imagery, graphics, and artifacts that showcase the unique characteristics of each course. A cross-section of racing surfaces is also on display in The Track to educate visitors on the unique composition of America’s racetracks. The Winner’s Circle area allows visitors the opportunity to bask in the joy and glory of being a champion while viewing memorable winner’s circle photographs and an historic trophy from the collection. The Winner’s Circle also provides a memorable photo opportunity with a sculptural horse and rider.

The Race Day Gallery also features a mural by artist Greg Montgomery and a lush soundscape that adds detail and ambiance to the experience through the use of traditional sound elements found at the track, including famous race calls.

Call the Race

Museum guests will have the opportunity to call some of the sport’s most famous events just like a professional track announcer in a new interactive exhibit located in the Race Day Gallery. Featuring an introduction by legendary racecaller Tom Durkin, Call the Race provides guests an opportunity to study the race’s video before making the call. Each race is digitally recorded and can be downloaded to keep and relive the experience and share with others.

The Jockey Club Gallery

Since 1894, The Jockey Club’s primary responsibility has been the maintenance of “The American Stud Book,” ensuring the integrity of the thoroughbred breed in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. The new Jockey Club Gallery transforms the Museum’s previous changing special exhibition space (Contemporary Racing Gallery) into a new exhibition devoted to The Jockey Club and its contributions to racing in America. As part of the Hall of Fame Education Experience, The Jockey Club Gallery will feature artifacts and archival materials from The Jockey Club’s collection on loan to the Museum and two interactive touchscreen stations filled with multimedia content on the history of the organization, the services it provides the racing industry, selected race footage and statistics, and the digitized certificates of registration and foal photographs (submitted in the registration process) of some of the sport’s greatest thoroughbreds.

For more information about the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, including upcoming events, please visit or call (518) 584-0400.

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