Race Track Chaplaincy Of America Founder ‘Salty’ Roberts Dies At Age 85

by | 04.09.2017 | 6:37pm
"Salty" Roberts

Horace William “Salty” Roberts, founder of Race Track Chaplaincy of America (RTCA), passed away Friday at the age of 85.  Salty died at a hospice care center in Hollywood, Florida, located near his home in Cooper City, following a sustained illness.

Salty witnessed and experienced firsthand the needs of what he considered to be his family—the workers who care for horses on a daily basis on the backside of race tracks. Following a dramatic spiritual conversion, he began ministering to track workers in 1968.  Salty took the first step toward establishing the first recognized worship services on the backside of a thoroughbred race track in 1970.

His efforts spread to other race tracks and led to the establishment of the Race Track Chaplaincy of America (RTCA) in 1972. From that early beginning, the RTCA today supports chaplains ministering at 39 race tracks and training centers throughout the nation.

“Salty had a real burden on his heart for the people that he worked with,” said long-time friend Pat Day, a Hall of Fame jockey and currently president of the Kentucky chapter of RTCA. “He eagerly shared that burden by establishing a ministry to serve them right where they worked and often lived—on the backside of race tracks.”

Of the passing, Dan Waits, Executive Director of Race Track Chaplaincy of America said, “Countless lives and generations to come have been and will be impacted by the Christ-centered work of Salty Roberts.  We stand on his shoulders, and RTCA will continue to honor his legacy by carrying out the mission he established.”

Of his efforts to share Christ with race track workers, Salty once said, “I never did become a top jockey or a leading trainer, but God has given me something better than all that.  He gave me the gift of salvation through his Son, and at the end of my life, when I hear him say, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant,' I'll know I've won my race. That's the greatest honor I could ever receive.”

The Race Track Chaplaincy of America which Salty founded continues to serve the horse racing industry today with Chaplains, Councils, and volunteers at horse tracks and training facilities across the United States and beyond.  The mission of RTCA remains the same: to minister to the spiritual, emotional, physical, social, and educational needs of those persons involved in all aspects of the horse racing industry.

Salty is survived by his wife, Dallas; three sons: Mark Roberts; Chris Roberts and wife, Melissa; and Paul Roberts; three daughters: Lygia Colton and husband, Kevin; Mary McKeever; and Alicia Gargiulo and husband, John; nine grandchildren; and three great grandchildren.

For more information on the work of the ministry that he started, go www.rtcanational.org.

  • Dana Wimpfheimer

    God Bless You , Salty – Rest In Peace. It was an honor to have known you

  • Tinky

    Salty was a fine person, as suggested in the post, and almost always had a smile on his face.

    One of the truly original characters found on the racetrack over the past several decades.


  • Charles Smith

    The RTCA does womderful, much needed, Christ centered work. Salty Roberts has surely gone on to a better place. RIP.

  • Mike Kelly

    Salty was a great guy and an inspiration to all of us.

  • Rachel

    “(You) have fought the good fight, (You) have finished the race, (You) have kept the faith.” 2Timothy 4:7

  • Jay Stone

    Will be missed by all who were lucky to have know him but lived a long and productive life.

  • swiss305

    The power of one life, affecting many thousands of lives otherwise overlooked and forgotten in the hubbub of racetrack backsides. He founded an army of unsung heroes. Good and faithful servant, welcome home.

  • Alden Crissey

    Dumb question but is the McLaughlin-trained “Salty” named for him?

  • Cot Campbell

    Salty was the first ever winner of the Dogwood Dominion Award, given by
    our outfit to an unsung hero in the Thoroughbred racing world. He got
    five grand, a bronze and a large luncheon at the Reading Room in
    Saratoga. He loved it, was a standout to win the award, and promptly
    spent his $5,000 establishing a racetrack chaplaincy in England. One of
    the truly great human beings.

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