07/28/2015 11:01AM

BEST distributes work boots to diabetic workers


The Backstretch Employee Service Team on Saturday will distribute approximately 40 pairs of work boots to backstretch workers with foot problems associated with diabetes.

The shoe distribution is part of a project dubbed BEST Steps Forward, a program designed to raise money to assist backstretch workers. At Belmont in April, BEST distributed about 20 pairs of boots to workers.

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Lewis Mongullezzo, head of the ownership group Team Power Play Racing, helped spearhead the project and was able to raise about $10,000 from fellow owners and trainers. The Thoroughbred Charities of America gave BEST a $5,000 grant.

“The goal is every year to do something,” Mongullezzo said.

One idea for the next project is to raise enough money to give each backstretch employee a “box of essentials” consisting of an electric toothbrush and other hygiene products.

“We want to develop a membership club of owners and trainers and each year come up with a project,” said Paul Ruchames, executive director of BEST. “Our commitment will always be that all the money will go to the project.”

Thursday’s fifth race at Saratoga is named the BEST Steps Forward race, and on Thursday night, BEST will hold a celebration for its donors at Mingle on the Avenue, a restaurant at the Pavilion Grand Hotel on Lake Avenue.