The Race Track Chaplaincy of America (RTCA) is an organization that ministers to the spiritual, emotional, physical, social, and educational needs of racetrack workers. Founded in 1972 by Salty Roberts, the RTCA has had an impact at racetracks across the United States and beyond. Together, the Chaplains, Councils, and hundreds of volunteers of the RTCA serve thousands of workers and their families every day. From the shedrows to the front office, the Chaplaincy offers guidance and support to everyone within the horse racing industry.
With Chaplaincies from coast to coast, RTCA Chaplains will serve anywhere between 200 to 2,000 workers at each racetrack. The work done by local affiliates is vast and wide ranging, and there is no so such thing as a typical day for an RTCA Chaplain. Some days may consist of visiting an injured worker in the hospital or supporting their family. Other days, Chaplains may walk the track and barn areas to talk, connect, and pray with personnel. On any given day, they may assist with translations, help workers navigate the procedures of government agencies, or provide general counseling. What’s more, Chaplains conduct Bible studies, perform baptisms and wedding ceremonies, and host recreational activities like sports leagues, field trips and picnics. The Chaplaincies at the local tracks works to better the environment for all.
RTCA is a nationally run entity which oversees all existing and establishes new Race Track Chaplaincy of America affiliates. The national office in Lexington, KY provides best practices, trains new Chaplains and Councils, organizes fundraisers, and assists with the needs of its affiliates. The national office also works with other national horseman’s groups and entities in effort to better each and every racetrack environment. In addition, there are 27 RTCA Councils who support their Chaplains and ensure the Chaplaincies abide by the policies & procedures outlined by the national board.
RTCA and its Chaplains open their doors to anyone in the Thoroughbred industry in need of support. There’s no waitlist or official application process for RTCA services. Thoroughbred workers throughout the track can directly contact a Chaplain or visit the nearest office for help or assistance.
Illustrating such an example, Jose Omar Aracena, RTCA’s Director of Administration & Operations, recounted a story about a backstretch worker that had contemplated suicide. Arcana said, “At just the right moment, the individual was touched by the voice of the Chaplain on the loud speaker as he invited all workers to Bible class and offered words of encouragement. Coupled, these instances penetrated his mind and heart, and convinced him otherwise. RTCA is in the business of saving lives, physically and spiritually.”
RTCA recognizes that there are always opportunities for growth and expansion of services, however the Chaplaincy continues to provide a host of programs that offer hope, encouragement, fellowship, teaching, and ministry to everyone at each of their affiliated tracks.
TCA has supported the mission of RTCA with a grant for many years. Grants and donations to RTCA assist by providing operational support to the many affiliates serving race tracks across the United States.