Graded Stakes: Winning Owners
Michael Dubb | Therapist
Michael Dubb’s near 50-year voyage at Saratoga Race Course has been unique and complete. In 1973, at the age of 17, he slept in a van because he couldn’t afford a room to attend the races the following day. In 2021, the 65-year-old multiple leading owner in New York, who watches the races from his box seat, saw the opening of his Faith’s House, a daycare center at Saratoga Race Course for the children of backstretch workers that he built and donated so those children had an option other that sleeping in their parents’ car or spending their summers apart from their parents. Faith’s House is named for his mother.
Twenty years earlier, Dubb donated the materials and built Anna House, a daycare center at Belmont Park named for the daughter of late owner, Eugene Melnyk, who contributed $1 million to start the program. Anna House was the first program of any kind offering daycare for children of backstretch workers. Dubb has contributed renovations for both facilities.
Michael Dubb’s legacy won’t be the races he won, but the lives he changed. “It means a lot to me, more than winning races,” he said. “In racing, you need a foundation to win races. These kids needed a foundation for their lives.”
His would be a good one to emulate.
The van he took to Saratoga was the same one he used for his fledgling landscaping business. “I bought my first landscaper when I was 16,” he said. “I slept in the van for a couple summers at Saratoga. I was in my van at Congress Park, and I got to listen to Richard Nixon resigning that August (1974).”
In 1985, Dubb began The Beechwood Organization, which has become the largest New York developer of family and multifamily attached housing. Beechwood has built more than 10,000 homes in 80 communities in New York City, Long Island, Saratoga Springs and North Carolina. Professional Builder magazine said Beechwood ranked 54th out of 240 housing giants and number 3 in New York in 2023. Dubb’s son Steven, is now a key player in Beechwood.
Dubb, a lifelong Long Islander, has spent much of his life giving back. He built homes for Long Islanders after Superstorm Sandy. The American Cancer Society, the American Jewish Committee, Family Service League, Mid Island YMCA/Jewish Community Center, Rockaway Development & Revitalization Corporation, Suffolk YMCA/Jewish Community Center, Tilles Center and Networking Magazine have honored Dubb for his philanthropy and community service.
While he has been a partner of top Thoroughbreds Monomoy Girl, British Idiom and Uni, he’s an astute horseman who has made a ton of claims—none more impressive than Therapist.
“He’s a pleasure,” Dubb said. “I competed against this horse for many years. I tried claiming him for $25,000, but I lost the shake. They put him in for $50,000. I got him. He’s just a hardhitting older New York-bred horse. I’m fortunate to own one.”
Exactly three weeks after Dubb lost his $25,000 claim on a shake, Dubb claimed the eight-year-old gelding for $50,000 on June 20 at Gulfstream Park when he finished third as the 2-1 favorite. Switched from Geoge Weaver to Mike Maker, Therapist won a starter allowance on synthetic by 4 ½ lengths and the Gr. 2 Pan American on turf at Gulfstream.
Sent to Churchill Downs, Therapist was a wide eighth in the Gr. 2 Louisville Stakes. At Ellis Park, he was second by a head in a $160,000 stakes.
In the $600,000 United Nations at Monmouth Park, July 22, Therapist won his first Gr. 1, scoring by a length and a half in the mile-and-three-eighths stakes under Javier Castellano. In his last start, Therapist finished eighth in the mile-and-a-half Kentucky Downs Turf Cup. Dubb can live with that. Therapist’s U.N. score earned $360,000—more than seven times what Dubb paid to claim him.
Of course, all his claims weren’t as successful.
At Anna House and Faith’s House, all the children are given the tools to be successful. “We give them confidence to compete,” Dubb said.
Dubb conceived the idea of Anna House after Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey told him that backstretch workers’ kids were sleeping in cars. “It just wasn’t right,” Dubb said. “We recognized the need for daycare. I worked with NYRA to find a location. It took about 18 months. We got Anna House built in seven weeks.”
More than 1,000 kids have passed through Anna House, which offers 365-daycare from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. There are programs for infants from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. and a school-age program from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Parents of the families are asked to make a “very small donation,” Joanne Adams, the Belmont Child Care Association executive director, said. “We write grants to assist us, and corporations help us.”
Asked of Dubb’s ongoing contributions to both Anna House and Faith’s House, Adams said, “It’s hard to imagine any of this without Michael.” She continued, “He has a big heart. He cares about the people around him. He has shared his early life and what he did and how he worked hard to get where he is. He’s just a very caring person, exceedingly bright. He understands business, and he understands people. He’s happy when the people around him are happy.”
Dubb says of both daycare centers: “They’ve exceeded my wildest dreams, to see how incredibly happy the children are.”