This week, and specifically on Monday, March 28, 2022, the New York Race Track Chaplaincy of America organized and hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for its multi-purpose center at Belmont Park. The 3,500-square-foot venue will be located inside the Gate 6 entrance of the Elmont racetrack, and it is expected to be up and running this fall.
The New York chaplaincy is an organization founded back in 1986 and it operates to help the needs of the backstretch community at the New York Racing Association racetracks. The three properties are the Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park, and Saratoga Race Course. The organization helps out the community through a wide variety of programs that help many local initiatives.
The New York Race Track Chaplaincy Center will be a 3,500-square foot facility, and it will be designed by Saratoga Springs-based Frost Hurff Architects. It will be located at the Gate 6 entrance of Belmont Park, and it is also set to feature a chapel, which will function as a multi-purpose room, office space for the chaplaincy staff, and a classroom for learning.
The groundbreaking ceremony was held on Monday, and some prominent names took part in it. Including, NYRA’s President and CEO, David O’Rourke, retired Hall of Fame jockey, Ramon Dominguez, who is the President of the chaplaincy, Thoroughbred owner and founder and principal of the Beechwood Organization, as well as Elaine Phillips who is the Nassau County Comptroller.
Mr. O’Rourke commented that NYRA is always seeking ways and methods of improving the quality of life for the backstretch community, whose dedication and efforts have made horse racing possible. In his opinion, the Racetrack Chaplaincy has a vital role in the lives of many employees of Belmont Park and the new venue would be a center of spiritual fulfillment for future generations.
The project has received major financial backing from many individuals. This includes Lisa and Kenny Troutt of WinStar Farm, Kristine and Chris Kay, the late Marylou Whitney and her husband John Hendrickson, and the estate of the late Dolores Ochota. In addition to that, Michael Dubb, who donated the two trailers for the Chaplaincy, has donated building materials for the entire construction of the facility.
Last year, the New York Racing Association announced its plans to make some redevelopments at the Belmont Park property. The association revealed plans to winterize the track and reduce the size of the grandstand and thus preventing it from casting a shadow on the track. This way, the track will be also able to host winter competitions and it will not be limited to a summer meet.
Recently, the association has also informed of a plan to make some upgrades at its Saratoga Race Course. The project is set to introduce a permanent saddling stall structure, along with the needed revamp of the first-floor grandstand. The famous Wilson Chute at the track will also be reconstructed so that the summer one-mile races could utilize it safely in the future.
Source: “Groundbreaking for NY Racetrack Chaplaincy Multi-Purpose Building”, PastTheWire, March 28, 2022