Four racehorse adoption agencies went home from Spiral
Stakes Saturday with checks totaling $13,740 from the Turfway Aftercare Program
(TAP), a joint funding effort by Turfway Park and owners who race their horses
at the Northern Kentucky track.
TAP collects one dollar from racehorse owners for each
horse they start at Turfway. At year’s end Turfway matches the donation, and the
fund is divided among partner agencies based on the number of “Turfway horses”
each took into its program during the calendar year. A “Turfway horse” either
ran its final race at Turfway or was stabled at Turfway at the time it was sent
to an agency. The program works with agencies either based in Kentucky or that
have Kentucky satellite locations.
Altogether, 34 “Turfway horses” were transitioned from the
track in 2012 by the Kentucky Equine Humane Center, New Vocations, Second
Stride and CANTER Kentucky. The agencies work to rehabilitate and retrain the
horses and/or transition them into second careers as show horses or trail and
“Winter slows down adoptions but increases all related care
and feed bills, so getting funding in March really makes a huge difference,”
said Kim Smith, founder and executive director of Second Stride in Prospect, Kentucky.
“Our fundraisers don’t gear up until April when people are getting Derby fever,
and the major Thoroughbred-related grants start to pay out in May and June. So
the Turfway donation is a ray of sunlight for sure.
“We always make sure we have enough money to properly care
for and feed the horses we have, so when funding dips and expenses increase, we
have to restrict the intake of new horses — right at the time many trainers are
wanting to retire older runners,” Smith continued. “Thanks to the educational
push and prominence of (the aftercare issue) trainers are retiring older runners
sooner. They’re ready to replace older horses with two-year-olds coming from the
training farms. So we need money to get these older fellows off the track now,
not two months from now.”
The Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective
Association (KHBPA) worked with Turfway Park management to define contributions to the
opt-out program. TAP wrote its first checks to adoption agencies last year for
horses accepted in 2011, but 2012 marks the program’s first full year of
The program was launched in mid-2011, and while Turfway made its own
contribution retroactive to the meet that began January 1, owners’ contributions
did not begin until the race meets held in September and December. In 2012,
contributions from owners and the track both commenced January 1, the start of
the winter/spring meet.
Agencies that received TAP funds for 2011 and 2012 met
standards established by the track and the Safety and Integrity Alliance, an
industry organization that accredits racetracks. Going forward, TAP partner
agencies must also be accredited by the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA).
Broadly supported across the racing industry, the TAA was founded in early 2012
to confirm agency compliance with standards addressing operations, education,
horse management including euthanasia policies, facility services, adoption
policies, and status as recognized charitable organizations.
Turfway has been accredited by the National Thoroughbred
Racing Association’s Safety and Integrity Alliance since its inception in 2009.
Turfway’s own efforts to assist trainers in transitioning racehorses off the
track began a year earlier with the establishment of a surrender stall program.
Provided certain conditions are met, the surrender stall program gives owners
the option to leave a horse in Turfway’s care while the track arranges placement
with one of its partner agencies. In practice, most owners instead continue to
pay their trainers to keep a retiring horse in familiar surroundings while
placement arrangements are made.
“While we keep the surrender stall ready, we’re more and more seeing trainers
retire horses in good time and take the initiative to contact agencies on their
own,” Turfway Park General Manager Chip Bach said.
“The agencies also send volunteers to the track to educate trainers and keep
them aware of their options. The entire racing industry depends on the wellbeing
of the horse, and we are proud to partner with these groups and to help fund