Horace William “Salty” Roberts, founder of Race Track Chaplaincy of America, died April 7 in Hollywood, Fla., after a sustained illness. He was 85.
Roberts 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 racetracks. Following a spiritual conversion, he began ministering to track workers in 1968. Roberts 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 tracks and led to the establishment of the RTCA in 1972. From that early beginning, the RTCA today supports 43 chaplains ministering at 36 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 racetracks.”
“Countless lives and generations to come have been and will be impacted by the Christ-centered work of Salty Roberts,” said Dan Waits, executive director of the RTCA. “We stand on his shoulders, and RTCA will continue to honor his legacy by carrying out the mission he established.”
“I never did become a top jockey or a leading trainer, but God has given me something better than all that,” Roberts once said. “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.”
Roberts is survived by his wife Dallas, three sons, two daughters, nine grandchildren, and three great grandchildren.