Jockey John Velazquez celebrates as he guides #5 Always Dreaming in across the finish line in the slop to win the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 6, 2017 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Rob Carr | Getty Images)

Horse racing talks aftercare for the Thoroughbreds it uses

LOUISVILLE, Ky — It’s that time of year when the spotlight falls on horse racing — what little spotlight falls on it these days — and the industry and its hangers on laud the winner of the Kentucky Derby and turn their thoughts to the Triple Crown.

Historically at this time, the powers that be in Thoroughbred horse racing hold meetings and talk about the state of its industry.

This year up pops the subject of aftercare concerning the horses the industry uses until they can no longer use them.

Here are a few excerpts from the Daily Racing Form report, “New idea floated to raise aftercare funds.”

Aftercare funding has become a topic of increasing importance in the racing industry as the sport’s viewpoint on retired racehorses has begun to evolve and mature, in no small measure because of pressure from animal-welfare advocates. The overwhelming consensus in the racing industry is that the sport needs to raise millions more dollars each year to properly address the issue.

Currently, the Thoroughbred industry seeks funding for aftercare organizations in a variety of ways. Some are mandatory, such as contributions from purses earned at tracks that have launched retirement programs and a mandatory surcharge on sales that require buyers and consignors to contribute 0.5 percent of the price of a horse sold at auction. Also, in 2012, The Jockey Club added a $25 surcharge to its foal-registration fee to raise funds for aftercare efforts. Other funding is sought through voluntary donations.

A proposal by former racetrack executive Allen Gutterman to ask racetracks to add a surcharge to their reserved seating tickets on popular race days to raise money for the care of retired racehorses is generating discussion among the racing industry, according to attendees of the Pan American Conference.

Gutterman’s proposal would add a surcharge to reserved seats, with the surcharge clearly advertised as being earmarked for aftercare funding. Gutterman said the industry should ask each North American racetrack to apply the surcharge for a single day of the year, and he estimated that the plan could raise as much as $1 million a year, provided the most high-profile tracks participate on their most popular days.

“If a fan is willing to shell out, say, $2,500 for a prime seat on Millionaires’ Row at beautiful Churchill Downs, would he object to spending an additional $5 for the same seat knowing that the additional $5 is earmarked for aftercare?” Gutterman said. “Honestly, do you think that on these days, fans would object? Especially those paying with corporate credit cards?” (DRF)

I quote Karen Richards from the famous Bette Davis film, All About Eve: “This beats all records for running, standing or jumping gall”.  Well just about all.

In essence, the mighty U.S. horse racing industry wants racegoers — albeit perceivably rich racegoers — to help pay for the care of its cast off racehorses. No wonder the idea is being talked about and well received. Anyone other than themselves to pick up the tab.

They brag about the $8.3 million the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance raised which is commendable. However, they have raised that sum since the TAA was founded in 2012. The monies are divided up among 180 accredited facilities.

The industry currently coordinates the majority of its fundraising through an organization founded in 2012, the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, whose members had a major presence at the International Forum on the Aftercare of Racehorses, which was held for the first time this year. The TAA has accredited 180 facilities in the U.S. and has awarded $8.3 million in grants since its founding, the organization says. (DRF)

How is that money raised?

Currently, the Thoroughbred industry seeks funding for aftercare organizations in a variety of ways. Some are mandatory, such as contributions from purses earned at tracks that have launched retirement programs and a mandatory surcharge on sales that require buyers and consignors to contribute 0.5 percent of the price of a horse sold at auction. Also, in 2012, The Jockey Club added a $25 surcharge to its foal-registration fee to raise funds for aftercare efforts. Other funding is sought through voluntary donations. (DRF)

That is a nice beginning but they could do much more and should continue in our opinion to develop ways to raise money from within the industry itself.

Jane Allin

Jane Allin is a highly regarded and widely cited racehorse advocate and watchdog. Allin observes:

Aftercare is a conspicuous symptom of this industry’s morality. The callous treatment of cast-off racehorses is both shameful and abhorrent. A conscious undertaking led by those directly accountable for breeding and purchasing these horses would lend credence to any so-called effort to fund the necessary aftercare programs.

Not at the expense of the fans through increased ticket prices or other means of unloading the associated costs but rather by holding those who bring these horses into the world accountable — for their lives, until the end. Horses are not disposable goods, yet this vile industry does just that.

“We are in a modern era, and a lot of people have a need for immediate gratification,” Gallo said. “A lot of owners (today) aren’t in it for the love of the horse. When I talk (to people interested in partnerships) I tell them, ‘You don’t own a horse until its last race. You own a horse until it is properly placed in an accredited (aftercare program).” (BH, JA)

Viable Option

There is a workable solution that would benefit many.

Every State that races horses can take as little as .5% of its race related gambling profits and provide aftercare for virtually every racehorse that enters the industry there, including racehorses requiring long-term aftercare, plus have monies left over to prepare these racehorses for second careers.

Money spent on racehorse aftercare programs would boost State revenues, create jobs and perhaps begin to rehabilitate horse racing’s sagging reputation. (Private Source)

No one in horse racing’s hierarchy are interested. They are too blinkered by greed and callousness.

Wagering windows. Kentucky Derby.
Image Source:

Record Betting

According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, Churchill Downs reported that wagering from all sources on all the races on Kentucky Derby Day program totaled $209.2 million, a 9 percent increase over the 2016 total of $192.6 million and an increase of 8 percent over the previous record set in 2015 of $194.3 million (LC-J). Imagine what a tiny percentage of Kentucky’s revenues from a handle that size alone could do for Kentucky’s racehorses.

Yet horse racing says it doesn’t have the money to provide aftercare for horses who do not bring sufficient return on investment without help from the public.

Perhaps what halts the horse racing industry from investing in a comprehensive aftercare program is the specter of endless racehorses virtually destroyed within their short careers by the laundry list of debilitating drugs given them turning up on on their doorstep for healing.

Relatively sound racehorses do cross that barrier into rehabilitation and re-training. Tragically, however, the too broken and unvalued racehorses are carried off by the meat man.

Racehorse Owners — Take Action

We certainly do not mean to dishonor those who care and work hard for reform within the horse racing industry, but they must work harder and find a way to be heard.

Lobby your State to be the first to set up an aftercare program described above. Prove it can be done. Become a blueprint for the rest of the horse racing industry to follow.

International Forum on Racehorse Aftercare

Thoroughbred racing held its first international meeting in Washington D.C. May 17-18. Topic: Racehorse Aftercare. We wonder what Di Arbuthnot of Retraining of Racehorses in Britain thought of the American horse racing hooligans she was exposed to there. What an eye opener for her!

See coverage at the Paulick Report, “International Forum for the Aftercare of Racehorses Concludes First Meeting »


Of course this outward appearance of concern for the racehorse when they are done racing is a load of old rubbish especially in the U.S.

The subject of aftercare is only on this cruel and insidious industry’s radar in America because the spotlight is on horse racing due to the Triple Crown races when a large and unassuming audience is watching.

Recommended Topic

Concerning the International Forum itself, why don’t they talk about the one topic that all of horse racing has in common — sending its racehorses to a horrific death by slaughter when they are through with them. We invite this forum to sink its international teeth into that topic.

See Racing through the slaughter pipeline — Remember Ferdinand and Exceller »

Jockey John Velazquez celebrates as he guides #5 Always Dreaming across the finish line in the slop to win the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 6, 2017 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Rob Carr / Getty Images)

Last Updated: 5/20/17 7:51 am EST

5 thoughts on “Horse racing talks aftercare for the Thoroughbreds it uses”

  1. Another piece of their “lip service” was a rule implemented on most racetracks that any trainer caught knowingly sending their racehorse to a kill auction would be denied stalls, and access to the system.

    Like most of their lip service it initially appeared to be a great thing, but like anything in this despicable business they didn’t honor it, and it still remains lip service.

    We caught, red handed, trainers who knowingly gave horses to kill buyers.

    We had the evidence, and the tracks did nothing,The wagering companies (Bet America, XpressBest, TVG) are making BILLIONS, and they pay little or nothing in taxes, give little or nothing to racehorse aftercare.

    So they reap the financial benefits of exploiting racehorses with little to no contribution or connection to that living being.

    Just 1% of mandatory deductions from wagering companies would translate to a drastic reduction in racehorses ending up on the slaughterhouse floor.

    Of course the wagering companies want no part of this, and they fall back on the INTERSTATE HORSE WAGERING ACT (IHWA), which ensures that wagering companies can bet across state lines, even across countries, with little to no transparency and/or taxes paid.

    There is no other gambling venue in the USA that permits this type of unchecked gambling activity EXCEPT for the horse racing industry.
    The IHWA was passed years ago as a TEMPORARY measure to bail out the then failing industry.

    It greases a lot of politicians palms most likely, and that’s why it has been protected because it should have been stopped years ago.
    If they were to tax the billions made off the IHWA it would bring a ton of money into local, and state coffers.

    The racetracks use a ton of public services that taxpayers support, but give little or nothing back to the very systems that support them.
    The horse racing industry is an environmental disaster as it contributes to methane gas emissions, wastes tons of natural resources in order to carry on this charade.

    Again, they don’t pay their fair share towards environmental impact.

    If you think the livestock industry is bad, the horse racing industry takes the cake when it comes to the environment, and the wastage of precious resources all for this “entertainment.”

    Of course the billions is made off the bones, backs, and lives of racehorses who get the worse end of the deal as many die on their tracks or on the slaughterhouse floor.

    If anybody really “cares” about a racehorse, then they wouldn’t support this business at all.

    Any rescue groups who rescue OTTB’s – you do a good deed, but the deed doesn’t end there.

    You are doing an injustice to the racehorse if you rescue them, and then TOUT this business, support this business. You are an enabler of the dumping – bottom line.

    If you rescue, and advocate for an end to this legitimized animal cruelty, and dumping then you are a true hero of the racehorse.

    It’s important to note that the industry funded aftercare programs (mentioned in this article) have caveats that explicitly state: if you accept money from our organization then you must support the industry or something similar to this.

    Many OTTB rescue groups do get a small amount of funding from the industry, and that’s why they are not speaking out about this modern day atrocity, modern day slave ring called horse racing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This comment is based on my direct experience as a person who grew up in the business, was a former owner/trainer, and has been on hand at kill auctions rescuing the discarded. maimed. racehorse mess that this industry creates.

    Make no mistake about it, this business would prefer to remain in the dark ages when it comes to this dirty little secret of using the slaughter pipeline as their main disposal system.

    It’s the PUBLIC who sounded the alarm, and the dissemination of information, via social media.

    For the most part, their public relations machinery was successful at damage control but they know that this is no longer possible so they have entered the “lip service” phase.

    They have been stuck in this “lip service” phase for many years resulting in a massive number of racehorses found at kill auctions all over the country.

    BILLIONS in wagering money, and they don’t even have a 1-800 number that people can call to get emergency funds to get these racehorses out of harms way.

    For heavens sake, even domestic pets have 1-800 numbers and/or safe havens that they can go to, but not racehorses!

    Their industry funded aftercare programs are FULL, and most are not accepting racehorses.

    Moreover, their programs have specific caveats that only racehorses ON A RACETRACK can gain access to, and that’s not guaranteed.

    Nevertheless, this caveat eliminates the majority of racehorses who get shipped-off the racetrack when they are maimed and/or no longer profitable.

    So their aftercare programs barely put a dent into the unwanted racehorse issue, and they know it.

    This business requires breeding to fill races, and to increase wagering profits.

    The sad reality is that there can never be enough forever/decent homes to accommodate all the racehorses required to fill the starting gates all over the country.

    Horse ownership, for pleasure purposes, is way down.

    These are 2012 statistics, but this has decreased considerably since then due to primarily economics.

    The cost of boarding or keeping any horse is super expensive now, and very few can afford it.

    Another factor is that most racehorses coming off the track now have “special needs.”

    This adds to the cost of rescue, rehabilitation, and recreational use exponentially.

    One can only conclude that the racehorse has become a disposable commodity, and at least 30% end up on the slaughterhouse floor 2 years or less after leaving the track. (Canadian Department of Agriculture Statistics).

    Their lack of action facilities the disposal process, makes it easy to dump,and to wash their hands of the responsibility of a living being once they are finished with them.

    For one thing, the elimination of claiming races would be a huge factor in reducing the dumping on-site.

    Once again, the industry uses claiming more as a dumping tool than a competitive one as they claim.

    For the racehorses, the claiming ranks are a living hell because it enables repetitive invasive procedures, and the masking of chronic issues which often results in maiming and/or dying.

    The system fails the racehorses every step of the way.

    They attempt to perpetuate the rumor that only cheap claiming horses end up at the kill auctions.

    Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth.

    The fact that multiple graded stake horses are dumped just makes it that much more repulsive.

    The broodmares have it the worst.

    When they are no longer reproductive viable, or when they don’t produce competitive foals they are sent to the kill auction like a piece of trash – LA GALERIE is just one.

    Even worse, some end up at hormone collection facilities, tethered to a wall, a bucket underneath them, impregnated repeatedly, every foal taken away within hours – the worse.

    This sure is a far cry from the multi-million dollar Kentucky farms where they started out as a prospect.

    The horse racing business has mandatory operations that every single racehorse is subjected to from the lowest claimers to the highest level of stake horses: doping, whipping/beating, dumping, and/or dying in the dirt.(Death facts at horseracingwrongs),

    In fact, the business ensures that there are little to no repercussions for multiple drug violating trainers who have multiple racehorses dying under their direct training methods – a felony animal cruelty charge in any other setting!

    If they really cared this would have been cleaned up a long time ago, but they require dope to mask chronic issues, fill races, and increase wagering profits.

    I could no longer rationalize the abhorrent reality of this business so I’ve come to realize that the ONLY way to eliminate the ongoing abuse, maiming, dumping, and/or dying of racehorses is to shut this antiquated business model down.

    Strip away the fancy hats, the mint juleps, and the “entertainment” banner, and your left with the exploitation of a non-consenting, voiceless, sentient being.

    The younger generation knows this, and most don’t support any business that exploits, imprisons, and profits from an animals life.

    Whether it’s SeaWorld, dog fighting, or horse racing, it’s all the same – just the object is different.

    They have lost their social license, and the fact that they have meetings to give us more lip service while racehorses are dying on slaughterhouse floors??!!

    Spare me your empty words, your lack of action, and your VILE business.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It never ceases to amaze me the way in which the horseracing industry shirks its responsibility for the welfare of its prized assets, the noble horses. Asking fans/patrons for money for the aftercare of its horses indicates this industry’s pure selfishness and greed. The $billions of profit made by these mostly doomed horses and the industry doesn’t have a policy in place to ensure the well-being and safety when its horses’ racing days are over?

    The racing industry is doing a damn good job of bringing itself into further disrepute of its already world-renowned notorious reputation for mistreating its most important participants, the horses.

    The virtually out of control over-breeding is the primary reason for racing’s animal welfare crisis. And, there are and never will be enough people, land, water, food and money to re-home all of these OTTBs. Impossible (demand and supply). The industry has just a few aftercare places mostly filled with once famous racehorses. Fooling the public into thinking how much it cares for its horses – pathetic propaganda, misleading the public who sustain this industry e.g. taxpayers, punters and dismissing the non-famous unsuccessful horses (about 95%). Utterly unacceptable.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My view is that –
    Firstly, the breeders should be hit with a significant levy for each and every foal they breed.
    Secondly, the owners are responsible for the whole life of the horse. Clearly, when horse is no longer useful to the owners and ceases racing, it is a crucial and life threatening time for the horse. One option is for the horse to be sold to an equestrian, pleasure riding person or similar, but, it would have to be on the proviso that the horse is sold for no less than double the current asking price for a meat buyer. Thus protecting the horse from unscrupulous people, and
    Thirdly, there needs to be a national authority governing the welfare of the racehorse, preferably an independent one but if not possible, one established by the racing industry e.g. The Jockey Club, on the proviso that it operates in partnership with the Federal government or one of its agencies.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. These are all excellent ideas Carolyn. Thank you for sharing them.

      Sadly, a lot of horses need to be weaned off the drugs they have been given for years before they can even begin to be retrained for something else.

      Some have been racing with serious problems because of injury masking drugs. They are so broken they may never had much of a life after racing and why the end up on the meat truck.

      This can be done but the industry needs to want to do it. That is where we are working to get them.

      Having no central authority is another issue. The don’t want that either.

      Liked by 1 person

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