Saratoga Springs police Lt. John Catone said the smash-and-grab burglary occurred around 11:30 p.m. Thursday at the museum, located across the street from Saratoga Race Course.
The thief set off an alarm that alerted police to the break-in, Catone said. The burglar spent less than three minutes inside but managed to make off with five trophies by smashing their glass display cases located in two separate galleries, he said.
The stolen memorabilia includes the Belmont Stakes Trophy won by Africander and the Brighton Cup Trophy, both from 1903. The others are the 1905 Saratoga Special Trophy won at Saratoga in 1905 by Mohawk II, and two steeplechase trophies: the 1914 Brook Cup Handicap Steeplechase Trophy won at Belmont by Compliment and the 1923 Grand National Steeplechase Trophy won at Aintree in England by Sergeant Murphy.
Museum officials said the Brook Cup, Saratoga Special and Brighton Cup trophies are made of gold, while the other three are silver, including the 248-ounce Grand National trophy. The 76-ounce Saratoga Special and 35-ounce Brighton Cup are 18-carat gold, the officials said, while the silver 1903 Belmont Trophy made by Tiffany & Co. features semiprecious stones.
"These trophies are irreplaceable," said Christopher Dragone, director of the museum and Hall of Fame. "We are saddened by this unfortunate event and hopeful that the investigation leads to the apprehension of the individual or individuals who committed this crime and the return of the trophies."
Museum spokesman Brien Bouyea said the value of the trophies hadn't been determined yet. The museum is home to a vast collection of trophies, jockey silks, equine art, artifacts and other thoroughbred racing memorabilia dating back centuries. The Hall of Fame's inductees include nearly 400 horses, jockeys and trainers.
The break-in comes nearly 10 months after 14 gold and silver trophies worth $300,000 were stolen from the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame in Goshen in Orange County. Police said the trophies stolen in December included the 18-karat Memphis Gold Challenge Cup won in 1902 by a mare named Lou Dillon, one of the sport's greatest trotters.