“The fate of Eddie Sweat is one of the great shames of the track.” – Bill Nack, seven-time winner of Eclipse Award for writing and author of “Secretariat: The Making of a Champion.”
And so the story goes with one of the most legendary backside workers in the history of the Thoroughbred industry. After years of dedication to the sport and despite being the groom to arguably the greatest horse of the 20th century in Secretariat, Eddie Sweat died virtually penniless in 1998. It was in that moment an organization known for its selflessness and dedication to the less fortunate in our industry showed its true colors. The Jockey Club Foundation stepped up and helped pay for Sweat’s funeral.
Established in 1943 with the financial aid of five New York racetracks, the Jockey Club Foundation, headquartered in Manhattan, has been a light for those met with tragedy who are a part of the industry but struggle to make ends meet each month. A staff of only two, led by Executive Director Nancy Kelly, takes care of everything the Foundation does from raising money to identifying those in need to ultimately sending the help necessary.
Since 1985 when Ms. Kelly started working as an event planner for the organization, the Jockey Club Foundation has helped well over 1,000 individuals and families through gifts just under $13 million.
With so many helped by the Foundation, it would be reasonable to think many applicants would have to be turned down. Think again.