Thursday, July 15, 2010

"Kiaran's Kids" Enjoy Summer Outing at Belmont Park

Thursday was a great afternoon for a group of elementary school students from Elmont, starting with a behind-the-scenes backstretch tour of trainer Kiaran McLaughlin’s barn and finishing with a winner’s circle celebration at Belmont Park.

McLaughlin, who has hosted small groups of sixth-graders as part of an after-school program with Gateway Youth Outreach since last fall, received an expanded audience Thursday as 29 children in grades 4-6 assembled at his barn for a horseshoeing demonstration from farrier Liam Goodwin and an equine anatomy lesson and x-ray demonstration from veterinarian Kristian Rhein, DVM, CVA.

Artie Magnuson, McLaughlin’s assistant trainer, and office manager Cate Masterson toured the kids through the barn area and shared details about the thoroughbreds’ daily routine, feeding, and care.

"The program was great today and we have Kiaran, Artie and Cate to thank,” said Patrick Boyle, executive director of Gateway Youth Outreach, Inc. “It’s a relationship that we look forward to keeping up throughout the year. These kids listened very attentively to everything that they heard today and got a great lesson."

Gateway Youth Outreach supports the youth of Belmont Park’s neighboring community of Elmont, with a number of programs and services including counseling, education and recreation. Thursday’s program at Belmont Park was sponsored by Capital One, and three Capital One Community Corps volunteers also attended.

After their morning on the backstretch, the group returned to the front side for lunch at Belmont Park, then assembled in the winner’s circle to cheer the McLaughlin-trained Hatheer as she opened up in the stretch to win a first-level allowance race on the Widener Turf Course.

“It’s a lot of fun,” McLaughlin said. “Cate and Artie take a lot of time with the kids and it’s nice to see them get into the horse racing scene a little bit and see what goes on behind the fences here. We enjoy it as much as they do.”

Both McLaughlin and The New York Racing Association, Inc., were presented with honors from Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray late last year for their efforts in arranging the weekly educational sessions. Two more student groups from Gateway Youth Outreach are expected to attend similar sessions with McLaughlin planned for July 22 and 29 at Belmont Park.