SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (AP) — Former New York Yankees star Mariano Rivera was the New York Racing Association’s guest of honor on Friday at Saratoga Race Course, and he walked away with custom-made pinstriped jockey’s silks with his No. 42 on the back.
Rivera was driven to the winner’s circle before the third race as “Enter Sandman” played on the track’s public address system, a nod to the Metallica song played at Yankee Stadium whenever the most successful closer in major league history was summoned from the bullpen.
After the race, won by Conquest Hardcandy, Rivera presented the Mariano Rivera Hall of Fame trophy to the horse’s owner, Alfonso Cammarota.
Rivera’s appearance at the track came nine days before he is to be inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame. He was greeted by a large crowd of track goers decked out in Yankee hats, jerseys and shirts, and he praised Yankee fans for supporting him throughout his 19-year career in the Bronx.
“You guys pushed me to a different level,” he said.
Rivera held a fundraising luncheon afterward in the track’s Paddock Tent for his charity foundation. More than 100 people paid $250 each to bid on Rivera-autographed jerseys and baseballs and ask him questions about his career.