Saratoga supports the children of the backstretch workers

This year’s Belmont Child Care Association party in Saratoga brings together two of my favorite things: care for the children of the backstretch workers and appreciation for those who take care of retired racehorses.

This year the BCCA honors Fasig-Tipton and Blue Horse Charities.  Blue Horse Charities was founded in 2001 by John Hettinger, who was long associated with Fasig-Tipton, and the two organizations are being honored for their support of Thoroughbreds and the Belmont Child Care Association.

Fay Donk is the president of the BCCA, on whose board I sit (so if you’re looking for reportorial objectivity…none here! I’m wholly biased). For many years, Fay coordinated the Saratoga benefit, but in recent years, BCCA executive director Donna Chenkin and her assistant (and husband) Stuart have taken over much of the organizing.

“They do it with so much love,” said Fay, sitting outside her husband David’s barn on the Saratoga backstretch.  “I don’t think anyone else would have come in here and done the job that they have done.”

This year’s benefit is Wednesday, August 24 at the Gideon Putnam Hotel at 6:30. Tickets are $250 and are still available, though the event generally sells out, Fay said.

The reasons for the event’s popularity are several, according to Fay. “We try to change things year to year depending on what people like,” she said, “but we always keep it casual. People don’t have to get dressed up. They can come and be themselves: they can get dressed up, they can wear jeans. It’s not the sort of party where it matters what you wear.”

This year’s theme is a country fair.  And rumor has it that, yes, cotton candy will be provided.

Along with the rest of the BCCA board, Fay is grateful for the support of the Saratoga community. “Thorofan and the Friends of Barbaro are great groups of volunteers, and the local merchants are generous in donating auction items,” she said.

We’re still accepting live & silent auction items. Popular items in the past have included  jewelry, wines, trips, show tickets, hotel and resort stays, computers, catered dinners and sports memorabilia, especially horse racing.

You can contact me if you’re interested in donating to, volunteering at, or attending this year’s event. And if you can’t make it but would like to learn more about the good work of the BCCA, please stop by the community outreach booth at the track this Saturday, August 6. We’ll be there with starting gate Christmas ornaments, offered for a suggested donation of $10.

And on Wednesday, August 17 from 6-8, we’ll be at the Crush and Cask on South Broadway in Saratoga. Come for a wine tasting, learn about the BCCA, make a small donation, and buy some wine or spirits from our friends at the Crush and Cask, who are so supportive of racing and its charities.

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