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The New York Race Track Chaplaincy’s New HQ

The heart and soul of the backstretch gets a facelift.

Belmont's new NYRTCA center is made possible by private donations, including one by the late Marylou Whitney.

Since 1986, the New York Race Track Chaplaincy of America (NYRTCA) has prided itself on ministering to the heart and soul of NYRA’s backstretch community—3,500 workers who make racing at Saratoga, Belmont and Aqueduct possible—by way of social, educational, recreational and religious services. And all of that has been done from modest Long Island headquarters consisting of two connected trailers on Belmont’s backstretch. Until now.

This spring, construction began on a new 3,500-square-foot NYRTCA center, which, designed by Saratoga-based Frost Hurff Architects, will double the organization’s current space. “While we are grateful for the trailers at Belmont,” Chaplain Rev. Humberto Chavez says, “we have long outgrown the space, which limits our ability to serve the members of the backstretch community as well as their families.” The new building will have a classroom and chapel, in addition to NYRTCA offices. It’s expected to be completed by the end of 2022. 

“The existing trailers will be converted to a food pantry and clothing distribution site,” Rev. Chavez says. “Currently these services are conducted outdoors, year-round, in all weather. This indoor facility will allow us to serve the members of the backstretch with dignity and comfort.”

Natalie Moore

Natalie Moore is the director of content at Saratoga Living and Capital Region Living.

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