One year ago, Thoroughbred owner Chip McEwen was on a
flight on which one of the passengers was a veteran with post-traumatic stress
“He had his mental faculties but no longer had the
necessary motor skills as the result of an (improvised explosive device),”
McEwen recalled. “His dad helped him walk off the plane. His wife was also
there, and she was in her 20s, and so were his children, who were about two and
four years old. I realized we need to do more for these individuals, but we also
need to remember (PTSD) affects their whole family.”
Witnessing the veteran and his family cope with the effects
of combat motivated McEwen to rename his racing operation Wounded Warrior
Stables and donate 10 percent of his horses’ purse earnings to the
Wounded Warrior Project and other organizations that assist veterans and
The Wounded Warrior Project serves veterans and service
members who incurred a physical or mental injury, illness, or wound, co-incident
to their military service on or after September 11, 2001, and their families.
“I thought this might help keep their process in the
forefront,” said McEwen, a 50-year-old pharmaceutical distributor from Fort
Myers, Florida, who has been involved in horse racing for approximately 15 years.
“It’s one small way for me to give back.”
Through Wednesday, Wounded Warrior Stables horses have
posted a record of 4-5-4 in 34 starts and earned $143,056.
St Liams Halo,
claimed for $50,000 by trainer Gary Contessa for Wounded Warrior Stables in his
most recent start, will attempt to give the operation its first graded stakes
victory when he steps up in class for the Grade 3, $200,000 Tom Fool Handicap on
Saturday at Aqueduct.
“We’re hoping for a miracle,” McEwen said of St Liams
Halo, who is listed at 30-1 on the morning line for the Tom Fool.
In addition to the Wounded Warrior Project, Wounded Warrior
Stables also supports
Retrieving Freedom, which trains and places service dogs with veterans and
autistic children, and
The Navy SEAL Foundation, which assists Navy SEALs and their families.
McEwen said he owns 33 horses, including broodmares. He has
become increasingly involved at yearling and two-year-old sales in recent years
and hopes his expanded operation helps bring additional publicity to the Wounded
“Nobody is in this game who’s not an optimist,” McEwen remarked. “Maybe the next one is a great one, or so we all hope.”