National Museum of Racing mourns the death of Richard Hamilton
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Richard L. Hamilton, former communications officer at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, died Wednesday at St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany following a heart attack. Hamilton, who enjoyed a long and distinguished career in thoroughbred racing, was 76.
“Dick Hamilton was an invaluable contributor to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame both during his years here as our communications officer and also in recent years as a volunteer,” said Christopher Dragone, the Museum’s director. “His knowledge of thoroughbred racing and his passion for the sport and the Museum were evident to all who knew him. He was one of the true gentlemen in racing and was beloved in the Saratoga community. Dick was a wonderful ambassador for the Museum and the sport in general. He will be missed by everyone who had the fortune of knowing him.”
Peter Hammell, former director of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, said Hamilton had been taken to Saratoga Hospital on April 17, complaining of severe pain in his neck and jaw. Shortly after his arrival, he suffered a heart attack and was immediately transported to St. Peter’s Hospital. He was taken off life support at 6 p.m. on April 18, according to Hammell.
A native of Lowell, Mass., Hamilton graduated from Emerson College in 1958 and served in the United States Army until 1961. He worked for the Daily Racing Form, various radio stations in New England, and the ABC Radio Network before joining The Jockey Club in 1972. He joined NYRA as a racing official in 1975 and served in a variety of capacities, including clerk of the course, paddock judge, placing judge, and alternate steward. Hamilton was appointed NYRA steward in 1989, a position he held for six years.
Hamilton accepted an early retirement package from NYRA in 1995, and subsequently became the communications officer for the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. While with the Museum, Hamilton helped develop the Hall of Fame induction ceremony into a more modernized program and also organized numerous free public seminars for fans. He officially retired from the Museum in 2005, but continued to serve as a volunteer. He also was a volunteer at Saratoga Hospital and in the History Room at Saratoga Springs Public Library.