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NYRA Seeks to Protect Film Archives

Keeneland is collaborating with NYRA on a project to preserve its film archives.

(Edited press release)

Keeneland Association and the New York Racing Association are collaborating on a project to preserve NYRA’s film and video archives, which span more than 100 years of racing.

Undertaken as part of Keeneland’s “Racing Through Time” project, members of the track’s Broadcast Services department were recently at Aqueduct to catalog and transport 858 film reels to Scene Savers, the archival division of PPS Group, a conversion facility in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Among the archives is a film shot by Thomas Edison in 1905 on opening day of the new Belmont Park; footage of the Triple Crown winners; rare race footage of such legends as Kelso, Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian; along with other filmed and taped features on well-known New York-based horses, trainers, and jockeys.

“NYRA’s film archive is one of the most significant collections of Thoroughbred racing footage in the world,” said Keeneland president and CEO Nick Nicholson. “We are very excited to assist them in preserving such an important piece of history.”
NYRA president and CEO Charles Hayward said, “With so much racing history made on New York tracks, it’s vital that we safeguard the irreplaceable record of our great sport contained in NYRA’s film and video archive. We are so pleased to partner with Keeneland on this vital project.”

At Scene Savers, each film will be inspected by hand and professionally cleaned of all dust, dirt, fingerprints, and other contaminants. After this process is completed, individual films will be assessed as to transfer type, color correction, conversion type, and format.

The master copies and original films will be returned to NYRA. A master component copy will be archived at the Keeneland Library with access for research and/or editorial use. 

Preservation of NYRA’s film and video archive is one aspect of Keeneland’s multi-faceted “Racing Through Time” project, which strives to promote and protect racing’s rich heritage.

In April 2000, the Daily Racing Form contributed its entire archival collection – which includes editions of the Daily Racing Form and Morning Telegraph dating back to the mid-1800s – to the Keeneland Library.

Keeneland also has embarked on an oral history project, conducting audio-video interviews with industry newsmakers and leading participants in an effort to document their remembrances.

“The mission of our Racing Through Time project is to create an industry archive which blends both the historical, as well as the current,” said G. D. Hieronymus, Keeneland’s director of broadcast services. “Thoroughbred racing has such an incredibly unique and colorful history. It is our goal to ensure it is preserved for generations of fans to enjoy.”

Future plans call for a film festival of the Thoroughbred, created to raise awareness of racing among high school and college students, and independent and professional film producers.