backstretch workers

Woodbine to Host Pop-Up COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic

Woodbine Entertainment will host a pop-up COVID-19 Vaccine clinic at Woodbine Racetrack, which is located in a 'hot spot', beginning Wednesday at 10 a.m. for the Rexdale Community. The vaccine clinic, which is supported by the North Etobicoke Community Cluster Partners, will operate for a minimum of three days and is open to individuals 18 years and older in 2021 and living in 'hot spot' communities in M9V and M9W. "We are very proud and grateful to be able to host this much needed pop-up clinic at Woodbine Racetrack for...

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Additional H-2B Visas Soon to be Available During Second Half of Federal Fiscal Year

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Department of Labor have agreed to offer 22,000 additional H-2B visas to employers for the second half of the federal fiscal year that ends Sept. 30. These visas are used by employers, such as racehorse trainers, who seek seasonal guest workers. They are capped at 66,000 annually, with an even split of 33,000 available for each half of the federal government's fiscal year. The additional visas will be made available later this spring or early summer via a temporary final...

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Supporting families who support New York Thoroughbred Racing

by Michael Dubb. Editor's note: The following letter appeared in the March 28, 2021 print editions of the Saratogian and Troy Record, and is reprinted here with their permission. While the pandemic irrevocably changed each and every one of us, perhaps no one will be impacted more significantly in the long term than our children. Mental health and education experts are just starting to reckon with the fallout of this unprecedented "lost year", which resulted in remote learning and isolation from friends and extended family. Most experts agree, however, that...

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Woodbine Entertainment Gives Back to Backstretch Community

Woodbine Entertainment has announced a trio of initiatives designed to support the 130 people living on the backstretch at Woodbine Racetrack during the winter months. Woodbine has partnered with the Horses First Fund, which will sponsor a nutritious, hot meal each week. The program will start Wednesday, Dec. 23. The Horses First Fund assists Thoroughbreds and their caretakers in need of emergency aid due to large scale neglect, natural disaster, or other catastrophes. Horses First Fund founder Jaime Roth of LNJ Foxwoods said, "I was especially moved by the misfortune...

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Pies Donated to MJC Backstretch Workers and Food Bank

For the past 32 years, the Maryland Jockey Club has had a tradition of handing out free pies to its patrons during its Thanksgiving Day program. Along with live Thoroughbred racing at Laurel Park, fans would arrive in the morning to free cider, coffee and donuts, and leave with an apple or pumpkin pie. This year, with no fans in attendance for Thursday's live program, the Maryland Jockey Club didn't want to stop the tradition of giving away pies. So 1,500 pies were ordered as usual, with 500 going to...

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Keeneland and TCA Team on Sales Initiative to Help Essential Workers

Keeneland and Thoroughbred Charities of America have launched an initiative to provide September Yearling and November Breeding Stock Sales buyers the opportunity to make a voluntary contribution to TCA to assist our industry's backstretch and farm workers. The voluntary donation will be included in the buyers invoice and equate to .05% of the hammer price of their purchase. "This partnership with TCA reflects Keeneland's mission to support worthy causes, and during this time of great need it's even more important that we take care of our front-line heroes," Keeneland President...

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TVG to Share Pacific Classic Spotlight With CARMA, Donate 5,000 Facemasks to Backstretch Workers

Celebrating its 10th year as the title sponsor of the GI TVG Pacific Classic, TVG will shine this weekend's spotlight on one of the country's leading Thoroughbred aftercare organizations, California Retirement Management Account (CARMA), and will donate more than 5,000 face coverings to backstretch communities at its partner tracks in California, New Jersey, Kentucky and other states beginning this week, TVG announced Thursday. "As part of celebrating our 10th year as the title sponsor of the TVG Pacific Classic, we wanted to reaffirm our support of CARMA and the tremendous...

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State Department Releases H-2B Guidance, Providing Opportunity for Trainers

The State Department released guidance for the Presidential Proclamations from June 22 (P.P. 10014 & 10052) that temporarily suspended issuance of new non-immigrant visas, such as the H-2B visa used by horse trainers. The guidance provides exceptions to the suspension and gives trainers the opportunity to secure more H-2B workers if at least two of the following three indicators are present: The applicant was previously employed and trained by the petitioning U.S. employer. The applicant is traveling based on a temporary labor certification (TLC) that reflects continued need for the...

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McIngvale, Dunkin' Make 'Runhappy' Donations to B.E.S.T.

James "Mattress Mack" McIngvale, owner of champion sprinter Runhappy, donated 30 dozen "Runhappy donuts" to the Backstretch Employee Service Team (B.E.S.T) in advance of Saturday's Runhappy GI Travers S. at Saratoga. Dunkin' also contributed 750 gift cards to the backstretch community Thursday. Last season, McIngvale distributed treats to fans waiting in line in the early morning hours on Travers Day. The Runhappy Travers will be carried live on FOX as part of a special 90-minute broadcast beginning at 5 p.m. For the complete broadcast schedule, visit www.NYRA.com/SaratogaLive.

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Pandemic Affects Visas, Limiting H-2B Workers

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- George Weaver feels it. So do Chad Brown, Todd Pletcher and Shug McGaughey. Among the many new issues that Thoroughbred trainers across the country must contend with during the 2020 pandemic is a shortage of skilled staff. In recent years, it has become more difficult for horsemen to secure all the H-2B visas that they desire to legally bring foreign nationals into the country as guest workers. The arrival of COVID-19 in late winter closed U.S. consulates, compounding the problems, preventing visa holders from getting their...

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Backside Learning Center Launches 'Purses for a Purpose' Program

The Backside Learning Center at Churchill Downs is launching "Purses for a Purpose", a program to allow horse owners to pledge a portion of their horse's earnings to benefit backside workers and their families. "The backstretch community is a hugely important part of our sport, and we're more than happy to support it in any way we can," Brian DiDonato of Franklin Ave. Equine LLC, owner of Moonshine Dancing (Speightster) and Too Much Kandy (Kantharos), the first two horses to participate in Purses for a Purpose, said of his motivation...

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NY Race Track Chaplaincy Campaign A Necessary Success

When the New York Racing Association announced Mar. 25 that racing would be suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, perhaps no lives were affected as much as those of the New York backstretch workers. The New York Race Track Chaplaincy, which has been dedicated to supporting and ministering to the needs of this community for over 30 years, jumped into action. They began a campaign to help the 3,500 people who were suddenly without their normal wage deal with the challenges that resulted from the pandemic, asking for help in...

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