The first US Triple Crown horse race winner for 37 years joins the line-up of jockey statues on the façade of New York's '21' restaurant.
When American Pharaoh galloped to victory in the Belmont Stakes, trainer Bob Baffert and Zayat Stables earned their place above the entrance to '21'. Baffert dined with victorious jockey Victor Espinoza at the restaurant a few nights before the race. Says the restaurant's general manager Teddy Suric: "They joked they'd be back soon if they won." Little did they know that their return would be as guests of honour at a party to celebrate the unavailing of Zayat's colours at the restaurant.
Dating back to the 1930s, the jockeys are an iconic feature of ‘21’, each associated with prominent stables whose owners frequented the club. The tradition began when socialite and sportsman Jay Van Urk donated the first jockey statue to the then-owners as thanks for the hospitality received on his daily visits. Since then, a number of famous names have followed in Van Urk’s footsteps, including the Vanderbilt, Mellon and Ogden Mills Phipps families.
Not to be outshone by the new arrival, all 35 figures have also undergone a complete restoration; the first in almost 20 years. October marks the grand unveiling of the collection.
The project has been undertaken by local artist Andrew Tedesco, an avid horse racing aficionado who has been the go-to expert for artistic enhancements at ‘21’ for over two decades. The eight-week long process involved sanding down, patching up and repainting each of the 125lb plus cast iron statues by hand. Andrew and his team have spent countless hours researching the silks of each jockey, ensuring each colour is precisely matched—right down to the jacket buttons.
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