February 22, 2018


NYTHA Distributes More Than $1.7 Million in Benevolence: The New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association distributed a total of $1,738,859 in benevolence last year 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 the members of the backstretch community. Last year, BEST’s two free primary care clinics, at Belmont Park year-round and seasonally at Saratoga, 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.

How important is BEST to the well-being of the backstretch community? Ruchames explained, “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 last year. 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,” exclaimed NYTHA Trainer/Director and Aftercare 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.”

For more on NYTHA’s Benevolence Program, click here.

NYTHA Scholarship Applications Available Friday, Feb. 23: Applications for the 2018 NYTHA Scholarship Program will be available in the NYTHA Office at Aqueduct and on the NYTHA website at beginning Friday, Feb. 23. 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 – we have a young woman who is now a pilot for JetBlue, and young man who is a surgical technician for Mercy Medical Center in Rockville Centre. One 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.”

Do You Want to Connect with the NYTHA Board? NYTHA members are welcome to reach out to the NYTHA Board and our staff with any questions, comments or concerns. To connect with the NYTHA Board, please email You can also call the NYTHA Office at (718) 848-5045, email Executive Director Andy Belfiore at, or email Business Manager Dionne Johnson at We look forward to hearing from you!  

“Infectious Disease Advisory for Horsemen at New York Racetracks,” from the NYS Gaming Commission: While control of infectious disease represents a year-round commitment for horsemen, racetrack management and regulatory officials, the first few months of the year represent a time of particular concern due to dramatic changes in weather as well as environmental conditions at racetracks and training centers that may cause stress, allow for close contact of horses, and comingling of horses of varying age and immune status. These conditions make for a “perfect storm” when dealing with many infectious diseases.

Horsemen can limit the exposure of their horses to infectious disease by implementing the following Standard Operating Procedures:
  • Wash hands/wear clean gloves in between animals. Wear clean clothes and disinfect footwear regularly.
  • Isolate sick horses to whatever degree possible, even if it means simply placing them at the far end of your barn to limit direct horse-to-horse contact.
  • In the event of a finding of abnormal behavior, appetite or manure output, or clinical signs of disease (fever, nasal discharge, coughing, ataxic), consult your veterinarian immediately.
  • Report sick horses to the Chief Examining Veterinarian of the racetrack immediately, especially if several horses are sick at the same time.
  • Handle healthy horses before sick horses. This simple process should be practiced daily and will reduce the chance for transmission of pathogens from sick horses to healthy ones.
  • If a sick horse is removed from your barn, immediately empty the stall of all organic matter, clean and disinfect the stall. Do not put another horse in that stall. Be sure to clean and disinfect the buckets, brushes, rakes, brooms, tack and any other equipment that came into direct contact with the sick horse.
  • Keep a Horse Movement Log Book to include movement of individual horses into and out of the stable. Both dates of shipment and destination locations should be recorded.
  • Clean and disinfect your van or trailer between trips. Disinfectant sprays are well suited to this purpose.
  • Quarantine new horses on arrival to your barn for 2 to 3 weeks, if possible.
  • Control public access to your stable and restrict access of all non-essential personnel.
  • Control pets and pests. Observe leash laws for dogs and follow regular pest control measures (feed bags in secure containers, covering for hay bales to prevent contamination by bird droppings and use of rodent control services by licensed individuals.
  • Communicate your biosecurity plan to all stable employees & visitors and post biosecurity signage where appropriate. It is particularly important for you to advise visitors who also have horses of their own or regularly come in contact with horses that you have biosecurity procedures in place.

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