Race Track Chaplaincy, All-Star Basketball Game, the Spirit of Giving–and You.

Marion E. Altieri Mommy's Little Horsie WriterIf you’re a fan of Thoroughbred racing, you know that it takes far more than a mere village to get a single horse to the track for that first race–and for all the races thereafter in the career of the hose.

It takes an entire megalopolis, a network of people who are up and at the barns by 4, 4:30AM.  Feeding, bathing, tending to the medical, nutritional, emotional and general well-being of every single horse on that track.  Trainers have teams, and those teams strive seven days a week, week-in and week-out, to care for the horses who may become your favorites.  If you love a particular horse, stop telling the owner.  Don’t praise the jockey.

Runway Ready and Frankie Rodriguez

Instead, say a loving and sincere, “Thank you!” to the groom who hoses down your fave horse after the race–who then walks the 1,200 pound creature back to the barn in the sweltering Saratoga heat, while the  other connections are still basking in the glow of victory.  The unsung thousands who really need the thanks of millions of race fans–rarely hear those two words.

Backstretch workers are the life and breath of horse racing–without them, the sport could not exist.  And guess what? They’re humans, too.  They have problems. They have families. They have needs, wants, desires, dreams and hopes.  But usually they’re too busy to just sit back and dream, for they’re bathing, feeding, wrapping and hotwalking horses, ultimately, for your sporting pleasure.

Without these sincere employees, horse racing would grind to a halt.  They care for the horses—but who cares for them?

RTCANY LOGOEnter the Race Track Chaplaincy.  The Race Track Chaplaincy of America has served the spiritual, emotional, intellectual and physical needs of those who work in the sport of horse racing for 43 years.  For those thousands of women and men across the United States who strive every day in the barns, farms and tracks to care for the horses–the Chaplaincy often is the link between success in Life, and failure.

In 40 locations around the U.S., Chaplains, their staff and tireless volunteers have comforted, cajoled, blessed, counseled and aided track workers in ways that most Americans cannot fathom.  Virtually every day of the year, needs are met with great grace and love, by someone who cares.  Everything from immigration work; bedding; clothing; housing; financial assistance; life counseling; and social needs—all fall under the umbrella of services offered by the Chaplaincy.

The New York Division of the Chaplaincy serves that which probably is the largest population of clients in the network, as Chaplain Humberto Chavez and his team cover all three of the NYRA tracks:  Saratoga, Belmont and Aqueduct.  In order to achieve so much for so many, funding is necessary, of course. The majority of that funding comes through contributions of individuals who understand the depth of the Chaplaincy’s work.  (Either you Get It, or you don’t.  If you don’t–find out more, and figure It out.  If you do-thank you, please continue to support Chaplain Chavez and his team.)

While the Chaplaincy hosts several events during the year to raise money, on August 6th in Saratoga, the organization will present a free-to-the-public basketball game, pitting some of horse racing’s most famous and beloved Jockeys and Trainers against each other.  There’s no charge to see the racing professionals who grace ESPN, duking it out on the court in a lively, fun and utterly entertaining game.   The event offers we, the fans, the opportunity to see our favorite pro athletes vs our favorite, not-necessarily-athletic racing pros, racing against the clock to win it all.   You may see Johnny, Javier, Edgar or Eric win the feature on the 6th at Saratoga–but can he score that half-court shot?  Can Bill Mott stop a determined Irad?

RTCANY BasketballThe only way to find out is to attend the New York All-Star Charity Basketball Game.  If you love basketball, you’ll be enthralled.  (If you’re like me, who’s really very single-minded, and you understand only horse racing–take heart.  It’s fun, it involves our beloved racing luminaries and heck, there’ll be half-time raffles and other surprises.)   Hay, if the jockeys can give of their time and energy to play basketball for a good cause–after riding, say, six 1,200-pound animals at breakneck speed, in six races that day–you can drive your car to the Rec Center and show them–and the Chaplaincy–that you appreciate them all.

All this grand madness will take place at the Saratoga Recreation Center, 15 Vanderbilt Avenue (off Lincoln), Saratoga Springs, New York on Thursday, August 6th, 7PM.  For more information, or to sign up as a Sponsor—please contact Chaplain Humberto Chavez.   Of course, members of the Media are encouraged to contact the Chaplain for interviews, and to attend the game.

Chaplain Humberto Chavez:    (516) 967-6037 / rtcany@aol.com



Editorial Note:  Even though the game is free–no charge to you, at all–please feel free to bring your checkbook or cash.  This is me, Marion, writing this, not the Chaplaincy asking me to make a statement about donating.  I know the Chaplaincy, so I KNOW that there’ll be NO pressure to donate anything, at all.  But think about it:  if you decide to give the amount of money it would cost to buy a pizza after the game–you’ve contributed to the well-being of another human.  You’ll probably never meet that person, but isn’t that supposed to be the point of giving from the heart? Anonymity is very graceful.  The recipient of your kindness won’t know–but God will know.  And His opinion does count.   Thank you, and God bless you for caring about those who care for the horses.