More than $1.7M for benevolence, racehorse welfare distributed by NYTHA

Posted: Feb. 24, 2018

The New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association distributed a total of $1,738,859 in benevolence in 2017 for programs that benefit the backstretch workers, retired racehorses and our communities.

NYTHA’s largest single expenditure is for the Backstretch Employee Service Team, which provides health care and social services to members of the backstretch community. Last year, BEST’s two free primary care clinics, at Belmont Park year-round and seasonally at Saratoga Race Course, handled 3,721 appointments and saw 1,337 individual patients.

BEST also offers substance abuse counseling through a fully licensed program, as well as assistance with everything from translation services, to transportation, to tax preparation. NYTHA contributed $669,226 to BEST in 2017.

“BEST would barely be able to function without NYTHA`s support,” BEST Executive Director Paul Ruchames said. “With NYTHA`s steadfast support, BEST has been able to provide some of the most comprehensive medical and social services available at any track in the U.S.

“Our organization is indispensable to the health and social welfare of the backstretch workers. If a worker gets sick, needs health insurance, has a drug or alcohol problem, needs clothing, food, help with their taxes or help in securing benefits for which they are entitled, BEST will be there for that worker, and our bilingual staff will be relentless at supporting that worker until their problem is resolved.”

The New York division of the Race Track Chaplaincy of America received $185,637 from NYTHA last year. The funds were utilized primarily for the Backstretch Recreation Program, with activities ranging from soccer and bowling leagues to trips to the theater, amusement parks and sporting events; from crafts and fitness programs to seasonal festivals and parties.

Equine aftercare and welfare are an important focus of NYTHA’s benevolence efforts. In 2017, our organization donated $488,865 to ensure that our retired racehorses have long and happy lives when they leave the track.

NYTHA’s TAKE THE LEAD program helped to find placements with accredited aftercare programs such as ReRun and New Vocations for more than 100 horses in 2017. NYTHA is also a supporter of the TAKE2 Program, which promotes second careers for retired Thoroughbreds as hunters and jumpers; the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance; the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation; the Exceller Fund; and ACTT Naturally.

“The welfare of all of the members of our backstretch community are paramount, and that includes the horses,” said NYTHA trainer/director and Aftercare Committee Chair Rick Schosberg. “We have an obligation not only to ensure their health and well-being during their careers, but beyond the track to see that they find safe haven and hopefully a ‘second career’ once their racing days are over. Our TAKE THE LEAD program does exactly that. Partnering with TAA-accredited aftercare organizations, we see that these retirees receive the rehabilitation, retraining and rehoming for a long active life beyond the races.”

Meanwhile, applications for the 2018 NYTHA Scholarship Program are now available in the NYTHA office at Aqueduct Racetrack and on the NYTHA website. Each year, NYTHA offers scholarship grants to the backstretch workers at the NYRA tracks and their immediate dependents.

Since 2008, NYTHA has assisted 395 students to realize the dream of a college degree. Our students have gone on to become veterinarians, nurses, teachers, business analysts, accountants; one young woman is now a pilot for JetBlue, young man is a surgical technician for Mercy Medical Center in Rockville Centre, and a 2018 graduate will be going on to the New York Police Academy.

NYTHA distributed a total of $207,524 last year for college tuition, books and transportation.

“We are so proud to be able to help these kids get a college education,” said NYTHA Business Manager Dionne Johnson, member of the NYTHA Scholarship Committee. “Backstretch workers have an incredible work ethic, and they impress that upon their children.

“Through the NYTHA program, we open doors that might have been closed, and it is gratifying to see how hard the kids work to achieve their goals when they are given the opportunity. This is just one way that NYTHA gives back to the people who are so vital to our industry.”

(NYTHA photo)