South Florida horseman and restaurateur Carlo Vaccarezza has supported a number of different causes in recent years, holding fund-raisers for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund, flood victims in Houston, Texas, and families of mass shooting victims at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
Now, Vaccarezza is raising money for fellow horsemen in South Florida he fears will be unable to pay their employees and feed their horses should the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic prompt health officials to shut down racing, as he thinks eventually may happen.
“We need to be prepared,” said Vaccarezza, who is in the process of shifting his operations from Florida to Kentucky. His horses have already moved to Keeneland and he is preparing to open a restaurant in downtown Lexington that will bear the name of his popular South Florida eatery, Frank & Dino's.
Vaccarezza said he's been negotiating with Florida feed and bedding suppliers to lower prices on a short-term basis, but he's worried that a racing shutdown would lead to severe financial problems for the numerous small stables that support Gulfstream Park's year-round racing operations. “The big stables will be fine,” Vaccarezza said, “but the little guys are really going to have a hard time.”
A Go Fund Me page has been established by Vaccarezza “to insure that horses are given the most acceptable care in every way, also to make sure that the backstretch employees are fed and receiving proper health care if needed.”
For anyone concerned that Vaccarezza has established the fund himself rather than going through an existing charity, he had this to say: “People who know me, know that the last thing I will do in my life is take a penny. I raised almost $400,000 for the flood victims in Houston, and every single penny went to them.”