A Message from BEST-
The Backstretch Employee Team

The success and popularity of Saratoga racing could not exist without the day-to-day, tireless labor of thousands of hot walkers, grooms, exercise riders and others who compose the backstretch workforce.

In 1989, the Backstretch Employee Service Team (BEST) was founded as a nonprofit dedicated to the well-being of backstretch workers, entrusted with caring for the physical health and psychological well-being of these workers. BEST depends upon the generosity and support of hundreds of donors and foundations.

For more than a decade, BEST and Saratoga Hospital have partnered to operate a medical clinic in a small trailer, providing urgent and primary care health services. Last year, nearly 500 workers received high quality medical care from a staff of highly trained and licensed physicians, nurses, and counselors. Workers logged nearly 900 clinic visits, receiving treatment and prevention for a wide variety of illness, ranging from the common cold to Hepatitis to more chronic conditions, including hypertension and diabetes. In conjunction with the New York State Department of Health the clinic provided 185 free vaccines to prevent illnesses.

Marylou Whitney and John Hendrickson have been tirelessly involved in our work — not only as generous philanthropists, but also as popular visitors to the backstretch. Marylou and John underwrote annual backstretch dinners and events, but even more importantly, together they built self-esteem and became true friends to the workers — and cherished members of the backstretch community.

Marylou, more than many, knew these workers toil long hours “to care for the horses.” The backstretch will miss her terribly.

Recently, John Hendrickson, initiated a unique idea, when BEST and Saratoga Hospital out-grew the medical trailer. Knowing Marylou’s passion for sharing her blessings, he donated hundreds of her worldly belongings, as a way of raising funds. He committed to build a new state-of-the-art clinic as a way of paying homage to the legendary healing spirit of his, and out, beloved Marylou. BEST could not be more thrilled or honored by this gift. Your participation in this virtual auction will honor Marylou’s legacy of kindness by helping to fund the health care needs of our backstretch workers.

By Paul Ruchames, Best Executive Director