Michael Dubb making a difference on and off the track



On Sunday afternoon at Saratoga Race Course, Michael Dubb stood in the winner’s circle. He’d just watched his 3-year-old filly Monomoy Girl, owned in partnership with Monomoy Stables, The Elkstone Group, and Bethlehem Stables, impressively win the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks, his fourth Grade 1 Saratoga win, the first three coming in the Spinaway.

If you follow New York racing, Dubb’s name is familiar. He’s been the leading owner in New York six times in the last eight years, and he’s led all owners for the Saratoga meeting for the last three years. Running horses at every level from claimers to Grade 1 races, he seldom declines a chance to talk about his runners, his knowledge of the business both broad and deep, and he is frequently in attendance at all three New York Racing Association tracks, as enthusiastic freezing at Aqueduct as he is summering in Saratoga.

Well-known on Long Island for his development business The Beechwood Organization, Dubb takes a low-key role in one of endeavors to which he is most dedicated, and that is the welfare of New York’s backstretch workers. Around the turn of the last century, he was one of the driving forces behind the Belmont Child Care Association, donating labor and materials to build Anna House, the child care and early childhood education center on the backstretch at Belmont Park. Dismayed to learn that some backstretch employees left their children in their cars during early morning shifts, Dubb galvanized support around the initiative, and 16 years after opening its doors, Anna House has expanded its programming to include after-school activities for older children, tutoring services, and programs for parents. Dubb continues to serve as the chair of the BCCA board, and he leads by both word and deed, frequently visiting Anna House and presiding over its graduation ceremony.

On the board of directors of the New York Racing Association, he is the most vocal advocate for upgrading backstretch residential facilities, offering his building expertise and urging celerity to improve the living conditions of people who take care of the horses; he says that he “constantly” talks to Glen Kozak, NYRA’s vice president of facilities and racing surfaces, about the conditions on the backside.

He supports the work of the New York Racetrack Chaplaincy, sponsoring the annual jockeys vs. horsemen basketball game in Saratoga, and he works closely with Nick Caras, the Chaplaincy’s program director. And while he never seeks a spotlight for his generosity, he never passes up an opportunity to encourage other people in the racing industry to step up.

At one of the luxury housing communities he built on Long Island, he included in the offering plan the requirement that the club house be shut down one day a year, so that children of backstretch workers could hang out at the pool and the movie theater.

Later this month, Dubb will take the podium at the annual Belmont Child Care Association fundraiser, scheduled this year for August 22 at Saratoga National Golf Club. He’ll talk about the work of grooms and hotwalkers, and he’ll talk about Anna House success stories, the children who enter kindergarten equally at home in Spanish and in English, the older kids who have gone on to college, the families who watch their children achieve one version of the American dream, including the man Dubb hired five years ago, after the Anna House alumnus earned his degree at St. John’s University.

With Monomoy Girl’s win on Sunday, her fourth straight in a Grade 1 race, her fifth this year; her 2018 record is perfect, and she may well be a lock for champion three-year-old filly. But even if he and his partners get to accept an Eclipse Award next January, that achievement might well pale in comparison to what he’s accomplished for backstretch workers.

“I want,” said Dubb in a conversation last month, “to make a difference.”