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January 21, 2013

NYTHA Donates $1.3 Million In 2012

For the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, taking care of our communities, our people and our horses is of the highest priority. NYTHA's charitable donations totaled $1.3 million in 2012.
The Backstretch Employee Service Team is the number one beneficiary of NYTHA's benevolence program. B.E.S.T., which provides health care and social services to the backstretch workers, received $450,000 in funding from New York's horsemen last year.
"NYTHA's steadfast financial support of B.E.S.T. has had an enormous positive impact upon the health and social welfare of the several thousand backstretch workers at the Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga racetracks," said B.E.S.T. Executive Director Paul Ruchames. "Since 2011, B.E.S.T.'s two primary care clinics have had 30% more visits, such that in 2012 over 2,000 workers received primary health care services and sought treatment in the clinics more than 4,000 times. B.E.S.T. also provides a New York State licensed substance abuse treatment program, and a variety of social services for workers, such as transportation, translation services, access to the internet and Skype, even food and clothing, when needed."
In addition to the backstretch clinics and health benefits offered by B.E.S.T., NYTHA supports dental and eye care programs for the backstretch community, donating $151,255 toward dental care and $27,055 for eyeglasses in 2012. The Belmont Child Care Association, a model for child care at the track, received $23,040 from the organization, and New York's Racetrack Chaplaincy received $47,326. NYTHA also steps up when backstretch families are grieving lost loved ones, covering funeral expenses for those in need.
The new voucher program, which buys lunch for the grooms and hotwalkers braving the cold to take care of the runners at Aqueduct this winter, has been very well-received, with $14,845 in vouchers redeemed in the first two months of the meet. NYTHA also earmarked more than $62,000 for recreational activities for backstretch workers last year, sponsoring everything from a soccer league and tickets to sporting events to carnivals and zumba classes.   
Another highlight of 2012 was the unveiling of the TAKE2 Second Career Thoroughbred Program, which was developed in conjunction with the New York Racing Association and the New York Thoroughbred Breeders Inc. to promote careers in the sport horse world for retired racehorses. TAKE2 offers prize money and awards in hunter and jumper classes, and its sister program, Career2, funded prize money for three-day event horses. TAKE2 was featured at horse shows in New York, New Jersey and Texas last year, offering more than $35,000 in total prize money. The program will be expanded to include 32 horse shows in 17 states this year. 
"Aftercare for our horses has always been a major concern for New York's owners and trainers," NYTHA President Rick Violette Jr. said. "We were optimistic that TAKE2 would help to open up new second-career opportunities for retired racehorses, and the program has far exceeded our expectations. Horse shows across the country have been overwhelmingly enthusiastic about adding TAKE2 classes to their schedules, and there has indeed been a renewed interest in the Thoroughbred in the hunter and jumper world. We are hopeful this market will continue to grow along with our TAKE2 program."
NYTHA's total investment in equine research and aftercare, including a $137,500 grant to Morrisville State College for drug testing study and equipment, was $216,303 last year.
Educational initiatives for 2012 included $85,358 in college scholarships for backstretch workers and their children. The NYTHA scholarship students attend programs as diverse as the people themselves, from NYU, St. John's University, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Hunter College and the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, to out-of-state schools including the University of Kentucky, the University of South Florida, Daytona State College and Coastal Carolina University. NYTHA also provided $51,019 in funding for English as a Second Language courses, and for the Community Center and Language Labs at Belmont Park and Saratoga. 
"NYTHA is committed to making a real difference on the backstretch," said trainer Pat Kelly, chairman of the Benevolence Committee. "In addition to our long-standing support of the invaluable services provided by B.E.S.T. and of our scholarship students, we were very pleased to be able to offer the new lunch voucher program at Aqueduct this winter. It's one more way we can show our appreciation for the hard work and dedication of the people who take care of the horses. Our efforts on behalf of the backstretch community and our horses will continue unabated in 2013."