Coalition launches We Are NY Horse Racing

Wednesday, September 29th, 2021

NYTB logoA coalition comprised of the New York Thoroughbred Breeders Inc., New York Racing Association, small businesses, unions, non-profits and trade organizations have launched We Are NY Horse Racing, a coalition designed to educate New Yorkers regarding the importance of the sport of horse racing to the New York economy.

From downstate labor unions to upstate local restaurants and hotels, We Are NY Horse Racing has garnered statewide support.

“Our membership is well aware of the hard work and dedication required to support a successful racing industry in New York,” said Najja Thompson, Executive Director of New York Thoroughbred Breeders Inc. “New York’s horse breeders and farm owners have propelled the sport forward in recent years, and we look forward to contributing our collective voice to this important effort.”

The horse racing economy includes farmers, trainers, horse breeders, horse owners, racetrack employees, dozens of labor unions that support racing operations, backstretch workers, veterinarians and racing officials as well as seasonal and part-time jobs directly tied to big events such as the Belmont Stakes or the annual summer meeting at Saratoga Race Course.

As a driver of tourism downstate and throughout upstate New York, horse racing is a big business for the hospitality sector at a time when hotels, bars and restaurants continue to face uncertainty related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The recently concluded 2021 meet in Saratoga saw an average daily attendance of more than 26,000.

“Saratoga Race Course is an economic engine for upstate New York and a source of great pride for our communities,” said Todd Shimkus, President of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce. “Our member businesses recognize the sport’s direct impact to the local economy, which is why we will take every opportunity to emphasize horse racing’s importance to Saratoga County and New York.”

According to a study published by the American Horse Council in 2018, horse racing in New York State is responsible for 19,000 jobs and more than $3 billion in annual economic impact. In addition, the broader equine industry is New York’s second-largest agribusiness, generating good-paying jobs in every county and corner of the State. The sport of horse racing drives an industry that sustains hundreds of small businesses on and around the 11 racetracks currently in operation in New York.

“The horse racing industry is so instrumental to my restaurants across Saratoga. Without it, I’m not sure how local businesses like mine would survive,” said Nancy Bambara, Vice Oresident and Chief Operating Officer of DZ Restaurants, which owns and operates Chianti Il Ristorante, Forno Bistro and Boca Bistro in Saratoga Springs. “I am very happy to be joining We Are NY Horse Racing and its initiatives, especially as the restaurant industry recovers from the pandemic and we look towards the recovery of our local economy.”

We Are NY Horse Racing will engage in a number of activities moving forward, including events, paid media and other efforts directly related to educating and informing New Yorkers about the importance of horse racing to the New York economy.

“At the Belmont Child Care Association, we provide a safe, supportive and academically inspiring environment for the children of parents working in thoroughbred racing,” said Joanne Adams, Executive Director of the Belmont Child Care Association. “The sport’s continued success helps to enable the BCCA to expand our programming and work with even more children in the future. That’s why we are committed to this effort and look forward to participating in the months to come.”

“We provide health and wellness medical services for the NYRA backstretch community and see firsthand how the sport provides good jobs that support families,” said Paul Ruchames, Executive Director of the Backstretch Employee Service Team of NY. “Our community takes great pride in caring for horses and the essential services that make racing possible throughout the year in New York. We will play an active role in this growing coalition.”

“Our mission is to minister to the heart and soul of the hardworking women and men working in the backstretch at NYRA tracks,” said Reverend Humberto Chavez of the New York Race Track Chaplaincy. “We must do everything we can to secure the livelihoods of the backstretch community that keeps our racetracks running.”

Founding members of the We Are NY Horse Racing Coalition include:

  • New York State Laborers’ Organizing Fund
  • Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce
  • Long Island Contractors Association
  • New York Farm Bureau
  • Saratoga Casino and Hotel
  • NY Racetrack Chaplaincy
  • District Council 9, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades
  • DZ Restaurants, Saratoga
  • The Building and Construction Trades Council of Nassau & Suffolk Counties, AFL-CIO
  • The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA)
  • New York Thoroughbred Breeders Inc. (NYTB)
  • Belmont Child Care Association (BCCA)
  • Discover Saratoga
  • New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (NYTHA)
  • Gateway Youth Outreach
  • Western New York Harness Horsemen’s Association
  • Standardbred Owners Association, Inc.
  • Capital Off-Track Betting
  • Backstretch Employees Service Team (B.E.S.T)
  • Harness Horse Association of Central New York
  • Saratoga Harness Horseperson’s Association
  • Monticello Harness Horsemen’s Association
  • Empire State Harness Horsemen’s Alliance
  • Catskill Off-Track Betting

“The mission of the New York Farm Bureau is to support today’s agricultural needs and create member opportunities for tomorrow, and many of these opportunities are a direct result of the horse racing industry,” said Jeff Williams, Public Policy Director of the New York Farm Bureau. “New York agriculture and horse racing go hand in hand, which is why our organization is pleased to be a part of We Are NY Horse Racing.”

“Long Island contractors are proud to join the We are NY Horse Racing as this industry is an economic boom for our area,” said Marc Herbst, Executive Director of the Long Island Contractors’ Association. “Horse racing has provided our contractors with good-paying jobs – from working at Belmont Park to repairing critical infrastructure that enables fans to visit Belmont, we are grateful to have these local job opportunities.”

“Our members have been positively impacted by the horse racing industry for decades,” stated Vincent Albanese, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at the New York State Laborers’ Organizing Fund. “You may not see it on television, but our members are the folks responsible for maintaining many facets of the track. We’re proud to support this new coalition that will educate New Yorkers about the broad impact of the industry, including the employment of hundreds of unionized construction workers.”

“The Building and Construction Trades Council of Nassau & Suffolk Counties stand in solidarity with the We Are NY Horse Racing Coalition,” said Matthew Aracich, President of The Building and Construction Trades Council of Nassau & Suffolk Counties. “The sport of horse racing and its broader industry provides our members with family-sustaining jobs in and around Belmont Park. From our carpenters to our engineers and plumbers, we are grateful for the opportunities the horse racing industry brings to our local unions.”

“At Gateway Youth Outreach (GYO), we provide quality after-school programs to children in the communities surrounding Belmont Park,” said Pat Boyle, Executive Director of Gateway Youth Outreach. “The men and women who work at Belmont are our friends and neighbors and recognize their role in supporting organizations like GYO whenever possible. The children and families we serve are better off because of the opportunities to be found right here at Belmont Park.”

“New York State’s harness racing industry is proud to stand together with our Thoroughbred colleagues and agricultural stakeholders from all across the state as part of the We are New York Horse Racing Coalition,” said Joseph Faraldo, of the Empire State Harness Horsemen’s Alliance. “We look forward to telling our story directly to New Yorkers and decision makers in Albany to highlight the importance of the equine industry in New York.”

To learn more about the coalition, please visit

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