In 2007, Gary Contessa won a record 159 races on the New York circuit and he’s currently the leading trainer at the Aqueduct Fall meet. So, by pledging his share of any winnings at Aqueduct on Saturday, December 6 to the United States Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots program, there’s a great chance a lot more kids will be getting presents this holiday season.

Especially since the New York Racing Association will match Contessa’s donation.

“Every year I pledge $1,000 to Toys for Tots during its annual stop at Aqueduct,” said Contessa, who has five horses entered at Aqueduct for Saturday: Griffen Avenue in the second race, Light of Broadway, listed as “also-eligible” for the fifth race, Robyn’s Prada and AE Steel Drums in the seventh race and Por Favor in the ninth. “But this year, when more parents are struggling just to keep a roof over their heads, I’ve pledged all of the 10-percent trainer’s commission that my horses might earn on Saturday, and NYRA has agreed to match that donation as well. And even if my horses don’t earn any money on Saturday, NYRA and I will both donate $1,000 each. It’s a great chance to help children during the holidays.”

Fans, too, can help by donating new, unwrapped toys or making cash contributions this Saturday at Aqueduct, an important stop on the USMCR’s “Toys for Tots” tour. Annually, the generous gifts of fans, horsemen, and NYRA employees ensure happier holidays for so many disadvantaged children in the community. This year the need will be greater than ever, making Contessa’s pledge and NYRA’s matching gift all the more important.

“NYRA has had a long relationship with Toys for Tots and during these difficult financial times, we want to further assist this important cause,” NYRA President and CEO Charles Hayward said.

USMC Gunnery Sergeant Alexander Mesa will be on the first floor of the Aqueduct clubhouse this Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. to collect the new unwrapped toys from racing fans. Cash donations are gratefully accepted and checks should be made payable to “Toys for Tots.”