Features
Apr 5, 2021
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NYRA CARES: Faith’s House in Saratoga is Dubb’s latest effort to benefit backstretch families

by NYRA Press Office



For Michael Dubb, few experiences in racing compare to the satisfaction of joining another of his horses in the winner’s circle after a stakes win at Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park or Saratoga Race Course.

But that doesn’t begin to match the feeling that Dubb, a thoroughbred owner and Long Island developer, derives from his real calling at the track: putting together daycare centers that benefit the children of backstretch workers.

“There isn’t anything I’d trade in racing for the smiles and success that our daycare center at Belmont Park has had with children who have passed through its doors with a firm foundation under them,” said Dubb, who serves as a New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) board member and is the founder and chairman of the Belmont Child Care Association (BCCA). “That’s why we’re so proud of what we’re doing in Saratoga, which will continue to improve the lives of backstretch families.”

Dubb refers to the scheduled opening this summer of BCCA’s new childcare center for the backstretch community at Saratoga Race Course. The 4,300-square-foot facility going up inside Gate 16, a furlong or two from the Oklahoma training track, is being funded by Dubb and his wife, Lee. It will be called Faith’s House in honor of Mr. Dubb’s late mother, Faith; and completes the circle of having child care during the summer meet at Saratoga and year-round at Anna House.

The Saratoga facility will provide child care and early education programs for infants, toddlers and preschool-aged children of backstretch workers, and the children of trainers and front-side NYRA employees. Faith’s House will complement BCCA’s sister childcare center Anna House, which Dubb built and opened in 2003 for families of the Belmont Park backstretch.

“All working parents deserve to know that their children are being cared for in a safe, healthy and enriching environment during the workday,” said Dubb. “We are thrilled to extend this important program to the hardworking families of the Saratoga backstretch community, who provide a vital service to the racing community.”

The anticipated summer opening coincides with the annual summer meet at Saratoga Race Course, which brings approximately 950 backstretch workers and their families to the Spa. The opening of the new center is contingent upon licensing approval from New York State and the New York State Office of Children and Family Services.

Dubb’s passion for the track kicked in early. In 1973 at the age of 17, he was a self-described “misfit,” a recent high school graduate who spent much of that summer shuttling back and forth to Saratoga Race Course in the van he used for his landscaping business. At night, he and his friends slept on the floor of the van to save a few dollars.

In the mid-1980s, Dubb worked with a bank, which was using his landscaping service, to finance the development of some lots in East Meadow, Long Island. He became a builder and business grew rapidly. Today, Dubb’s Beechwood Organization ranks at the forefront of privately-owned residential homebuilders nationwide. Since 1985, Dubb, now working with his son Steven, has built more than 7,500 homes in 60 communities across the New York metro area with new ones on the map in New York City, Long Island and Saratoga.

Dubb credits retired Hall of Fame rider Jerry Bailey, who he knows from playing tennis, with generating the idea of creating a facility at Belmont Park where the children of backstretch workers could go while many of their parents were at the track, often working long hours. Meeting with NYRA officials, Dubb secured the land, an acre just inside Gate 6, and funded a large portion of the building of Anna House, which he named for the daughter of racehorse owner and generous donor Eugene Melnyk. 

It was around then that Dubb also became an owner. Though Dubb calls owning racehorses a hobby, he devotes time most evenings to his stable with the same commitment and attention to detail that he uses in running his business. "I look at each horse I own as an individual investment," he said. "But I look at all the horses I own as a stock portfolio. Underperformers are moved along and there is a constant push to upgrade the portfolio."

That philosophy has paid off handsomely. The winner of seven year-end NYRA owner titles, Dubb has campaigned some memorable horses, including Eclipse Award-winners Monomoy Girl, British Idiom and Uni. Another of Dubb’s horses to wear his stable colors of yellow with a pink rose and pink cap was Condo Commando, winner at Saratoga of the 2014 Spinaway, the final race called by Tom Durkin.

It’s at Saratoga where the Dubbs and the BCCA team look forward to cutting the ceremonial ribbon at Faith’s House. 

“This new facility fulfills a dream that the BCCA has been working on for over 10 years,” said BCCA President Libby Imperio. “We are so excited to bring a winning formula in child care to Saratoga and forever grateful to Michael and Lee for their leadership in making it happen.”

Learn more about Anna House, visit www.belmontchildcare.org/anna-house

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Five furlongs with…Allison Ayaquica

The Belmont Child Care Association, established in 1998, was created to provide a safe, supportive, and academically inspiring environment for the children of parents who work at the backstretch of historic Belmont Park. NYRA board member and thoroughbred owner Michael Dubb founded the BCCA and helped finance Anna House, a childcare facility that opened in 2003 and has since educated more than 1,000 students.

NYRA Cares reached out to 11-year-old Allison Ayaquica, a sixth-grader, who talked to NYRA Cares about her experience with virtual learning at Anna House for this month’s edition of Five Furlongs.

What has it been like taking your classes online?

“It’s very different. We logon and see our teachers and other classmates; they share screens. It took awhile to get used to it. At first, I was nervous. But the teachers have been great. The first few days were hard, but as I got used to it, it got easier. I still miss being there in-person.”

How helpful have your teachers been in going over the information in a virtual setting?

“They’ve been very helpful. They’re amazing. I was so nervous but they said, ‘don’t worry, you got this.’ I think they’ve been great teaching virtually, and they’ve made it as fun as possible for us. They send us a homework through an app and we do it that way, so that [aspect] has been good. They’ve made virtual learning easier for us. The teachers always motivate us.”

On how being at Anna House and around some fellow students has facilitated her virtual learning experience: 

“We come in and they give us breakfast. Around 9:30 a.m., we start our Zooms. Afterwards, we have little breaks. I look forward to those because though the learning is virtual, I still get to talk to some of my friends. We ask each other how the Zooms went. It’s really helpful [being in that environment].”

Do you find it less stressful at times to learn through a computer compared to a classroom?

“When you are in person, you have to raise your hand, and the teachers can’t really pay attention to you [since] they are paying attention to the whole class. When you are virtual, you feel like it’s more personal. They see your work through the app, and you get to talk to them personally. I think it’s a better connection.” 

How much do you miss seeing your teachers and friends in-person at school and how excited are you to hopefully be back there soon?

“I really miss seeing my friends and talking to them; going to the cafeteria and having lunch with them. Talking with them through a screen isn’t the same. I really do miss seeing them in person.”

Has virtual learning made you more independent?

“Yes, I do feel more independent. I do feel alone sometimes, because you’re just doing it by yourself. In-person, you can discuss things together, so I miss that. But I feel very independent.” 

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In the community...

Residents who live in Howard Beach [zip code 11414], Ozone Park [11417], South Ozone Park [11420], south of 103 Ave. in Richmond Hill [11419] and other residents of Community Board 10 can request free face masks by emailing [email protected] Please include your full name and address. Those residents who do not have access email can call the request in at 718-843-4488, but email is preferred as staff is working remotely and can process email requests more expediently.

Applications are now available for the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association 2021-22 Scholarship Fund. The fund provides financial assistance for higher education to qualified backstretch employees and their direct dependents. Click here to apply and download the scholarship application form here. Call 718-848-5045 for more information or email [email protected]

The New York City Department of Youth and Community Development has applications available for the Summer Youth Employment Program [SYEP]. The program connects New York City youth between the ages of 14 and 21 with career exploration opportunities and paid work experiences each summer. For more information and to apply, visit: https://application.nycsyep.com/.

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A helping hand…

The INN, a non-profit, volunteer-based organization, provides a broad variety of essential services to assist those challenged by hunger, homelessness and profound poverty. The INN needs volunteers to assist with sorting and organizing perishable and non-perishable food, assembling lunch bags, assisting with kitchen functions, sorting and organizing personal care items, clean up and other related tasks.

Date and Time: Contact to inquire

Contact: 516-486-8506 ([email protected]) or https://the-inn.org/contact/

For more information and to view the flyer, visit: www.the-inn.org/volunteer

About NYRA Cares

The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA), which holds the exclusive franchise to conduct thoroughbred racing at Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course, sponsors its NYRA Cares initiative to support the charitable endeavors of industry-related non-profits, service providers and community groups.

In New York, NYRA has long provided sustaining financial contributions to deepen the impact of the Backstretch Employee Service Team (BEST), the Racetrack Chaplaincy of New York and the Belmont Child Care Association (BCCA). 

NYRA Cares partners with national organizations such as the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the American Red Cross, Ronald McDonald House Charities and the Marine Corps Toys for Tots Program among others. 

The Belmont Stakes Racing Festival is marked by a number of special events and community partnerships sponsored and supported by NYRA. These include the annual Belmont/Elmont Parade, the jockey visit to the Ronald McDonald House of Long Island and the Belmont Stakes Blue Ribbon Run for Prostate Cancer. 

Day 1 of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival is highlighted by NYRA 's annual "Community Day", which will take place in 2021 on June 3. Community Day shines a light on the mission and goals of regional non-profits and service providers who set up informational booths and participate in various activities designed to raise awareness and funding for their efforts.

At historic Saratoga Race Course, NYRA Cares’ signature initiative is the Community Outreach Booth, which each season highlights a total of 40 local and industry non-profit organizations by providing them with a unique platform to share information about their work and fundraising initiatives. One non-profit per day of the summer racing season receives the exclusive opportunity to interact with the thousands of guests who visit Saratoga Race Course. The Community Partner of the Day is also featured in the Post Parade racing program and on televisions throughout the venue. 

To learn more about NYRA Cares, visit: https://www.nyrainc.com/community.


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