Led by donations from the Florida Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, the Jockey Club Safety Net Foundation and 1S/T Racing, more than $10,000 was raised for the Backstretch Appreciation BBQs at Gulfstream Park and Palm Meadows during Florida Derby week. Also contributing were Brook Ledge Horse Transportation, Big Lick Farm and the U.S. Trotting Association, as well as owners and trainers including Larry Bates, KD Racing, Loretta Lusteg, Eddie Plesa, ProRacing Stable, Kathy O’Connell, Sanatara, Ron Spatz, Barclay Tagg, Donna Ward and Bonner Young.
The funds were used to provide BBQ lunch to more than 600 backstretch workers. In addition, Father Tom LaPointe and his team purchased 75 bicycles and microwaves that were given away to the workers and their families in attendance.
“Especially during our big races, we want to be sure that we let the hotwalkers and grooms and exercise riders and assistant trainers all know how important they are to us,” said FTHA Special Projects Coordinator Herb Oster. “The events we put on are just a small token of our appreciation for their hard work and dedication. Many thanks to Father Tom, and to all of the people who helped us to make the BBQs a success.”