2018-06-13 / Front Page

Belmont Stakes Festival Includes Visit By Veteran Jockeys To Ronald McDonald House

By Dan Miller

Jockey David Cohen, one of the few Jewish jockeys in the New York circuit of professional horse racing jockeys was one of six who joined the children and leaders of Ronald Mc Donald House to brighten the day of children awaiting surgery or taking treatments for critical medical conditions.Jockey David Cohen, one of the few Jewish jockeys in the New York circuit of professional horse racing jockeys was one of six who joined the children and leaders of Ronald Mc Donald House to brighten the day of children awaiting surgery or taking treatments for critical medical conditions.

With the excitement of another run for a Triple Crown at Belmont Park, NYRA the New York Racing Association and Belmont Park planned a number of exciting events during Belmont Stakes Festival Week.

On Tuesday June 5, jockeys from Belmont Park visited Ronald McDonald House of Long Island to bring cheer to the many children whose families are in residence either awaiting for the recuperating of their child from surgery or receiving special medical treatments at nearby hospitals in Queens or on Long Island.

This writer had a chance to visit with the children, their families and the jockeys and left in tears remembering how the children, so many of them so fragile, were given poney rides and free toy jockey helmets and goggles from the jockeys who made the trip to RMH LI. You can imaging how happy the children looked in spite of the ordeals many of them have had to endure in their young lives.

We had a chance to speak with Matthew Campo, President of RMH LI. Matt was so positive about the work that Ronald McDonald House has been doing for many years to help families who otherwise could not afford to be near their children following evasive surgeries or treatments.

The jockeys who visited the children included, Hall of Famers John Velazquez and Javier Castellano, brothers Irad Ortiz Jr. and Jose Ortiz who have won two previous Belmont Stakes. Joining them were Dylan Davis, Many Franco, Pablo Fragoso, Eric Cancel and David Cohen

When we caught up with jockey David Cohen, we asked, “what is a nice Jewish boy doing racing horses for a living.” He explained that he grew up on a horse farm where his father raced and raised horses. All he knew as a child was feeding, cleaning and riding horses. Woould you know it, David became a professional jockey. He has won more than one thousand races in his career and he is only 27. We asked David who he thought would win the Belmont Stakes, Surprisingly he said, “I think that Justify will win the race.” and Justify did win the Belmont Stakes on Saturday June 8, also winning the Triple Crown of Professional Horceracing.

On Thursday, Friday and Saturday prior to the big race at Belmont Park  the Belmont Stakes Festival served up many treats to those who attended. While most of the race track is located in Elmont, LI. part of the backstretch leading to the home stretch or final leg of the Belmont Stakes is actually in the borough of Queens, which always tries to take claim that Belmont Park is a Queens treasure.

The festival has something for everyone. In addition to exciting horse racing, the grounds of PHOTOS DAN MILLER/DMD IMAGESPHOTOS DAN MILLER/DMD IMAGESBelmont Park have been transformed into a large party place with dozens of food options and places to take the family for a picnic. On Friday evening June 8, the place will be rocking with a concert by local favorite Mike DelGuidice sing the songs of Billy Joel followed by the Big Day when their cold be a second Triple Crown Winner in two years if Justify takes the third leg of the Triple Crown races.  Justify, the winner of the Kentucky Derby and the Preaknes will run for greatness to become the Triple Crown winner if jockey Eddie Smith has his way about things.

Stay tuned for other special events dissociated with the Belmont Stakes Festival.

As we were leaving Ronald Mc Donald House of LI we met a young family of three, temporary residents of Ronald McDonald House, who were returning from visiting their 3 day old child who was  clinging to life after emergency surgery immediately following his birth.Sazeed Haque and his wife Sultana  ask for prayers for their newborn, Aryaan Leo Haque.  Please say a little prayer to this young Muslim family who pray to Alla for their prayers to be granted. We join with this family to ask for a miracle for this little one to experience someday running in the grass and riding on ponies, and yes, meeting jockeys some day who will help brighten their day and give them something to remember for the rest of their lives.

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