School’s Out, But Anna House Is Open, All Summer Long

It might be summer vacation, but horses don’t take the summer off and neither do their grooms, riders, and hot walkers—and neither does Anna House.

In June we (I am a member of the BCCA board) celebrated the graduation of the class of 2015, who accepted their diplomas from Belmont Child Care Association board president Elizabeth Imperio and backpacks filled with school supplies, generously donated by Floral Park Memorial High School. Our five-year-olds will be off to kindergarten in the fall, but many will continue at Anna House through the summer.

Graduation 2015

Photo courtesy of the BCCA

An alum of the BCCA After School Program, Mercedes Hernandez received the $20,000 John R. Velazquez scholarship in the Belmont Park winner’s circle in June. On behalf of the Race for Education, Barry and Kathleen Irwin of Team Valor International Racing Partners presented Hernandez with the scholarship.

Hernandez participated for two years in the BCCA after school program, which is now named the Olivia’s Herd After School Program, named for Olivia Marie Saylor, who died in 2011. With her father, Paul, who campaigned champion Ashado among other noteworthy horses, and her siblings, Olivia was involved in the Thoroughbred racing industry

Mercedes Hernandez  scholarship

Photo courtesy of the BCCA


An aspiring veterinarian, Mercedes Hernandez will attend the State University of New York at Cobleskill’s Equine Science Program.

More than 80 students, from infants to teenagers, will participate in Anna House programs this summer. The younger ones will continue to get an educational foundation to prepare them for kindergarten; older ones will participate in enrichment activities, like trips to museums and to Broadway shows, thanks in part to generous grants from Nassau County.

Earlier this summer, a chess teacher came to Anna House to work with the primary school age children; after the teacher left, the recent graduates showed up, and the older children sat and taught them what they’d just learned, passing down their newly acquired knowledge.

Recently, 91-year-old Stanley Gross, a retired real estate developer, came to Anna House to drop off copies of his self-published book on physics for young learners.  He stuck around to work with the children, who were charmed and absorbed by his example of what happens on a see-saw.

Anna House is open 365 days a year at 5 a.m., providing low-cost child care and early childhood education for the children of the backstretch workers. Created and sustained by the racing community, it provides a safe, stimulating place for parents to bring their children, parents who not long ago had to leave their children in their cars as they worked.

On August 26, the BCCA will hold its annual fundraiser in Saratoga, honoring Jo Ann and Paul Oreffice.  The evening will include a live and silent auction; trainer Todd Pletcher will serve as auction, NYRA race analyst Andy Serling as the master of ceremonies.

It’s a big party but one you can wear jeans to…the point is to have fun and raise money, and the New York racing community turns out in full force to support this terrific cause.

2015 invite

Tickets are $250 each, and journal ads and sponsorships are also available.

If you can’t attend but would like to help, you can contribute an item to the auction—we are currently seeking donations of wine and entertainment tickets (concerts, sporting events), and racing-related memorabilia.

Or: you can make a donation, in the amount of your choice. Every little bit helps, and we are grateful for every contribution.

Visit our website for more information, and to see adorable photos of the children thriving at Anna House!



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