When Ramon Dominguez retired from racing last year, the reigning three-time Eclipse Award winner for outstanding jockey, one of the lines most frequently said in tribute to him was, “He’s a great rider, but he’s an even better human being.”
That characterization was no surprise to the Belmont Child Care Association (on whose board I sit). Dominguez and his wife Sharon (also a board member) have long been tireless supporters of Anna House, visiting the children and attending events, spreading the word about the good work on the backstretch of Belmont Park, where children have a safe, educational space to go 365 days a year, from 5 a.m. until 1 p.m., from the time they are six weeks old until they go to kindergarten.
On August 20th at the Canfield Casino, Racing For the Children, the BCCA’s annual fundraiser in Saratoga Springs, will honor Ramon and Sharon for their commitment and support on an evening that promises to be, as it is annually, one of the best events of the Saratoga season.
In addition to its morning child-care and early education programs, the BCCA offers tutoring for elementary and middle school students, summer programs for children ages 6 to 12, and a Saratoga center for the children of backstretch workers who work the Saratoga meet.
All programs are offered to backstretch workers at NYRA tracks on a sliding scale according to need.
Our summer benefit will feature emcee Andy Serling, whose At The Post radio show at The Parting Glass is a BCCA community partner, and auctioneer D. Wayne Lukas; a silent and live auction with items at a variety of price points; and opportunities to fund books, tuition, and other supplies directly with donations. This casual dress event is always well-attended by trainers, owners, and jockeys, all of whom pitch in to support the children of backstretch workers. Want to see Todd Pletcher act as auction assistant? John Velazquez as bid spotter? This is the event to attend.
Tickets are $250, but if that’s out of reach, you can donate directly or purchase a journal ad to honor Ramon and Sharon; ads range in price from $75 to 2,000.
This year’s benefit is the first without Donna and Stuart Chenkin, who led the BCCA since its founding in 1998. They built a loving, safe, respected education center that is one-of-a-kind in this country and a model for what a committed community can do to take care of its children.
Donna and Stuart retired last month, and their irreplaceable dedication, vision, energy, and effort are much missed; Anna House’s success would not have been possible without them.
We bid farewell to them and offer a warm welcome to Joanne Adams, formerly NYRA’s director of community relations. NYRA’s loss is our gain, and the children of Anna House are the lucky beneficiaries of Joanne’s experience and leadership.
We look forward to celebrating Ramon and Sharon next month, and we hope that you can join us—in person or virtually—to support the children of the NYRA backstretches.
All photos courtesy of the Belmont Child Care Association.