Wetzel to be inducted into Aiken Training Track's Ambassadors Club on Saturday

Mar. 15—Jack Wetzel will become the newest member of an exclusive group Saturday.

The Aiken Horse Park Foundation president will be inducted into the Aiken Training Track's Ambassadors Club during the Aiken Trials.

A brief ceremony is scheduled for 2:25 p.m. at the Cot Campbell Clocker's Stand.

Wetzel is a longtime member of the Aiken Training Track's board of directors.

"We're giving Jack this award because he has been a relentless supporter of the Aiken Training Track, the Horse District and the horse community for many years," said Training Track Chairman Chad Ingram. "It's our privilege to honor him at the Trials."

Training Track President Bill Gutfarb praised Wetzel's willingness to help and mentioned a recent example.

"In conversation at one of the horse shows at Bruce's Field, we were talking about the Training Track, Gutfarb said, "and I told him, 'We're hoping to put a steeplechase schooling course in the infield. There are a couple of jumps in New Hampshire that we're getting and we've got to get transportation to bring them down here.' And he said, 'I'll give you $2,000.' I said, 'Gee that's generous. Thank you.'

"We eventually got them down here a couple of months later," Gutfarb continued. "I hadn't seen Jack in a while, but when I saw him at the dedication of the building (Jack's House) at Bruce's Field (on March 2), I said, 'Hi Jack, we got the jumps.' And the first thing he said was, 'Who do I make the check out to?' It had been months since he had committed, and I didn't ask him for it (the money), but that's the way he is. He is extremely generous."

The Ambassadors Club recognizes individuals who have played prominent roles in the Training Track's history while making unselfish contributions to the facility.

"This comes as a surprise to me because I figure that I haven't done that much for the track," said Wetzel of the honor. "I've been on the board for 20 years or so, and I'm happy to help the Aiken Training Track and help people. I enjoy the horses. And if this is something they feel like they should do for me, then I accept that and thank them."

The Ambassadors Club's members are Dogwood Stable President Cot Campbell, former Training Track CEO and Chairman Bill Simpson, Gustav Schickedanz and Richard Duchossois.

Schickedanz was a Canadian thoroughbred owner and breeder whose horses regularly spent the winter at the Training Track. A member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, he died in 2019.

Duchossois, who died in 2022, was inducted into thoroughbred racing's Hall of Fame at the National Museum of Racing in New York four years ago. He was a major supporter of the Aiken Horse Park Foundation, Bruce's Field and the Aiken horse community in general. Campbell, who died in 2018, was the Ambassadors Club's first member when he was inducted in 2016. He is member of thoroughbred racing's Hall of Fame in New York.

Simpson died in 2017.