ELMONT, N.Y.—The New York Race Track Chaplaincy of America held a groundbreaking ceremony Monday, March 28, 2022, for a multi-purpose building and chapel on the grounds of Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y.
The 3,500-square foot facility, designed by Frost Hurff Architects of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., will be located just inside the Gate 6 entrance to Belmont Park.
The New York Race Track Chaplaincy Center will include a chapel that will also function as a multi-purpose room, office space for the chaplaincy staff, and a classroom that will be used as a learning center.
Among those who participated in the groundbreaking ceremony were David O’Rourke, president and CEO of NYRA; Ramon Dominguez, a retired Hall of Fame jockey who serves as president of the chaplaincy; Michael Dubb, a Thoroughbred owner and the founder and principal of the Beechwood Organization; and Nassau County Comptroller Elaine Phillips.
“NYRA continuously seeks ways to enhance the quality of life for the backstretch community, whose dedication and skill truly make horse racing possible,” said O’Rourke. “The Racetrack Chaplaincy plays a central role in the lives of so many here at Belmont Park, and this new building will be a center of spiritual fulfillment for decades to come. NYRA congratulates Chaplain Chavez and his team, as well as those who have made this project possible.”
“This facility is a dream come true for the chaplaincy and for all the people it helps,” said Dominguez. “We are extremely grateful to all those who played a part in making it a reality.”
NYRA television personality Andy Serling served as the master of ceremonies for the event.
The New York chaplaincy was created in 1986. It ministers to the needs of the backstretch community at the NYRA racetracks (Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course) through a wide variety of programs. They include enrichment programs for children, social service programs, recreational programs, educational opportunities and non-denominational religious services.
Major funding for the new building was provided by 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. Michael Dubb, who donated the two trailers where the Chaplaincy is currently housed, has donated building materials for the entire facility.
Chaplaincy officials are hopeful the building will open this fall.
Additional information may be found at www.rtcany.org.
[Sent as a courtesy on behalf of the Racetrack Chaplaincy of America, New York Division]