Delaware Park is serious about the health and welfare of their horsemen who fill the race cards year after year. The Delaware Horsemen’s Assistance Fund (DHAF), founded in 1966, is dedicated to providing benefits, aid, assistance and relief to grooms hot walkers, exercise riders, trainers, and other backstretch licensees in racing. The fund supplies an extensive amount of programs such as a wellness clinic (available to horsemen and dependents), an on-site dental center, eye exams and glasses, prescription drug assistance, off-site counseling services, and an emergency assistance fund.
With over 850 horsemen visits a year, the largest funding gap lies in the medical and dental clinic, were TCA grant funds are utilized. The clinic provides diagnosis and treatment of minor illnesses and injuries. It also offers a preventive program of immunizations, screenings and various health education and wellness services. With just a $5 co-pay, horsemen and dependents can also receive prescriptions referred by the clinic. While the medical clinic is free of charge, the dental clinic has a small fee attached varying by service needed. These medical services are vital to some horsemen families who do not carry medical insurance.
Outside funding sources have reduced in the last few years, and TCA's funding has become more important to run the major programs in the fund. “Delaware [state] has a lot of programs, and we’ve been tapping into other community programs [because of reduced funding] to give better services,” said Lynda Furlong, DHAF program manager. Furlong indicated TCA grant money primarily funds the medical and dental programs, where the need is the greatest.
The biggest challenge the organization faces is to continue and expand programs and services with reduced funding. The DHAF partners with an adult medical clinic with specialists they can refer patients too, the Brandywine counseling service (the DHAF provides free bus fair directly from the track), and the University of Delaware annually provides mattresses to the program. With the current programs running strong, Furlong would like to provide more activities for the horsemen in the future. “We already have an annual health fair, but we would like to have more BBQs,” Furlong indicated. With TCA grant funds providing assistance to the medical programs, hopefully, the pocketbook can accommodate a little more fun on the backstretch this season at Delaware Park.