Breeders' Cup Party Set for Backstretch Workers

Edited press release

United Tote and The Race Track Chaplaincy of America will host the "United Tote Backstretch Bonanza," a special event for backstretch workers, at Belmont Park Oct. 25 during the week of the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.

The first United Tote Backstretch Bonanza will be held in the track's festival tent area, four days before the Oct. 29 Breeder's Cup. United Tote will sponsor the same event when the series moves to Churchill Downs in 2006.

"The best Thoroughbreds and their handlers from around the globe will be at Belmont Park for the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships," Damon Thayer, vice president of Breeders' Cup event management for the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, said in a release. "The great people who care for equine athletes have made a tremendous and meaningful contribution to the horse racing industry and are truly deserving of their own special event."

Officials at United Tote and the RTCA said though functions and parties were held for owners, trainers, the press, and fans that week, none existed for backstretch workers. They unanimously decided one should be added.

"The backstretch workers are the unsung heroes of the Thoroughbred industry", United Tote chief executive officer Joe Tracy said in the release. "Sponsoring the United Tote Backstretch Bonanza for the next two years is our way of saying to these workers, 'We recognize your contributions and thank you.' "

The event will feature a dinner for at least 600 persons, gifts for all, special raffle prizes, a bilingual concert, and a carnival that will include at least 10 professional games. All licensed backstretch workers and family members are invited, and admission is free.

The event will be largely organized by the RTCA's New York division, headed by chaplain Humberto Chavez and president Nick Caras, who also directs backstretch social services programs for the New York Racing Association.

The event will take place on the eve of the presentation of the RTCA's White Horse Award, given each year to the one racing farm or backstretch worker judged to have performed the most heroic act on behalf of another human or a horse.

"We are very grateful to United Tote and the New York Racing Association for giving our chaplaincy ministry the opportunity to recognize backstretch workers," RTCA executive director Dr. Enrique Torres said. "The backstretch workers are a very valuable segment of people who are highly committed to the racing industry."