Eugene and Laura Melnyk announced that they have committed $1 million toward the construction of a child care center at Belmont Park to care primarily for the children of backstretch employees. Groundbreaking is scheduled for this November, with the facility to be completed in six-to-nine months.
"Anyone who has spent time on the backstretch has to wonder about the people back there," Melnyk said on Belmont Stakes day. "Trainers lose a lot of good help when their workers have babies. You need a facility that is open at 4 a.m. We've decided to step up and help get this done. It's great to be a part of it."
The center will be named after the Melnyks' 2-year-old daughter, Anna, and will be called Anna House. It will be built near Gate 6 where the chaplain's office is now located. A capital campaign committee has been created to raise a total of $2.5 million for the project. It will be open year round and will be able to care for 80 preschool children. Michael Dubb will be the developer of the building.
"It will have a warm feel, not cold and institutional," Dubb said.
The Melnyks are prominent Thoroughbred owners from Canada who live in Barbados. "This will put New York racing in the forefront again, and serve as an example for racing across the country and in Canada," Melnyk said. "We know what it takes to get Anna ready in the morning, so we know these workers can use a hand."