Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Hofstra Shows PRIDE in Backstretch Workers

University Archivist Geri Solomon addresses the audience during the event's introduction.
On the evening of June 6, 2012 Hofstra University played host to an array of artworks from sketches to photographs in PRIDE, an exhibition and reception showcasing the work of those in the Latino community who work in the background at Belmont, Aqueduct and Saratoga racetracks.

"They are the behind-the-scenes stars. Far from the action of the track, we do not know their names nor hear their voices," said President of Backstretch Employee Service Team (B.E.S.T.) Paul Ruchames when describing the valiant work of backstretch employees, many of whom care for the champions and thoroughbreds we see on race day without ever capturing any glory for themselves. B.E.S.T. is an advocacy group that strives to provide health benefits, counseling and childcare among other necessities in order to - as they put it - care "for the people who care for the horses."

One of the photographs from last week's exhibit: "Eye Contact of the Winner."
Yet it was not merely the President of the honored group and the untrained artists whose work adorned the walls of Axinn Library's tenth floor alone who evinced their passion for the racetrack. Assistant Dean and University Archivist, Geri Solomon, introduced the event by conveying her own meaningful relationship with the sport: her husband was a hot-walker for the local stables and they even named their children after legends of the track. Mrs. Solomon's love of this historical sport echoes the way in which Hofstra has embraced B.E.S.T. and the community of backstretch employees whom the advocacy group serves.

The collection will remain in the Hofstra archives and is still available for viewing on the tenth floor of Axinn Library on the south side of campus - and despite this past weekend's discouraging development regarding I'll Have Another's forced retirement, it's certainly a pleasure to see the heart of thoroughbred racing still beating strongly not only in the competitors but in the people charged with their care.

It is Hofstra's hope to continue its relationship with B.E.S.T. and hold events like PRIDE on an annual basis.


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