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 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)
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.
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.
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.
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