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NYTHA Lunch Voucher Program Surpasses $900,000 

Food program for backstretch workers was introduced by Rick Violette Jr. in 2012.

New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association logo

New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association logo

Courtesy of NYTHA

The Lunch Voucher Program established by the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (NYTHA) has provided over $900,000 in meals to grooms and hotwalkers since its introduction in 2012. 

Started by the late NYTHA President Rick Violette Jr. as a measure of appreciation for busy backstretch workers during the cold months of the Winter Meet at Aqueduct, the program began as a $5 voucher to be used at the track kitchen or food truck by the receiving barn. As costs have risen in the interim, so too has the value of the voucher, which is currently $8. That amount covers a hot meal or sandwich and water.

"I'm happy for the lunch and refreshments," said Victor Carmona, a groom for trainer Jimmy Ferraro. "Sometimes I'll have a juice after the race. We're here for a few hours and it's easy to get something at the food truck."

Grooms and hotwalkers shipping over from Belmont Park or from out of state receive vouchers from security guards at the Aqueduct receiving barn. The vouchers are non-transferable, and are only valid for the day of the race.

In recent years, the program has expanded since Aqueduct is hosting dates traditionally contested at Belmont, which is currently undergoing a massive renewal. Racing is currently conducted at the Queens oval from September through June.

Providing benevolence to the backstretch community is one prong of NYTHA's threefold mission, and the lunch voucher program is just one of the many services NYTHA  makes possible.

"Without these workers, racing would come to a halt," said NYTHA President Tina Marie Bond. "They care for the horses no matter the conditions every day. This program is a small testament to our deep gratitude for their dedication to the horses."

For more information about NYTHA's Benevolence Programs, visit

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