TRF creates new program for NYRA OTTBs
every corner of the Thoroughbred industry have come together to support a new
program created by the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF) to develop
second careers for horses racing at New York Racing Association (NYRA) tracks.
The program, forged from a $225,000 start-up grant from the Harriet E. Pfleger
Foundation, will provide rehabilitation and retraining for as many as 100
off-track Thoroughbreds (OTTB) a year.
NYRA, the New York
Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (NYTHA) and The Jockey Club, as well as the
New York Thoroughbred Breeders Inc. (NYTB) and The Jockeys’ Guild, have all
stepped forward with commitments to fund the initiative.
"With the spark
created by a large donation from a private foundation, we were able to put
together a consortium of racing partners to fund and oversee this valuable new
program," TRF Director of External Affairs Diana Pikulski said. "We
have a model here in New York that embodies what everyone is trying to
accomplish in the industry nationwide. We are excited that this has become a
The first step will
be the redevelopment of the TRF retirement farm at the Wallkill Correctional
Facility in Wallkill, NewYork. Wallkill, established in 1983, has been home to
hundreds of Thoroughbred retirees, all of whom are cared for by Wallkill
Correctional Facility inmates. A state-accredited vocational training course in
horse care and management developed by the TRF at Wallkill has served as the
prototype for TRF programs around the United States, as well as a blueprint for
other Thoroughbred retirement organizations.
Wallkill will be
expanded to include the capability for short- and middle-term rehabilitation.
According to Pikulski, horses will be sent from NYRA tracks to Wallkill for an
evaluation that will determine if they are sound enough for the program, and
whether they need short- or long-term rest before they begin the retraining
process prior to adoption.
The TRF is also
exploring potential sites to be used as the retraining centers, which will
showcase the horses for those looking to adopt. The first horses are expected
to be accepted into the program early this spring.
the facilities now for basic retirement, with the inmates grooming the horses
and keeping them happy and healthy, but this is a genuine effort to repurpose
the horses that are sound enough to have a future in other equine
disciplines," NYTHA President Rick Violette Jr. said. "That’s a
significant challenge, for sure, but it’s a challenge that can be met, and it
coincides with other initiatives that NYTHA and NYRA are developing to find
second careers for racehorses. Horses that are physically able don’t need to be
turned out — they really are much happier if they have jobs to do."
NYRA and NYTHA have partnered to commit a total of $185,000
to the initiative. The Jockey Club will contribute $50,000, and more than
$135,000 has been collected from fundraisers and private donations.
A committee comprised of representatives from NYTHA, NYRA,
TRF, NYTB, the Jockey’s Guild and the public will provide oversight for the
"I think it is
significant that all of these industry stakeholders are rallying with
substantial financial support around an expansion of the TRF’s signature and
award-winning project," NYTB Executive Director Jeffrey Cannizzo remarked.
"We are also grateful for the very substantial generosity of the Harriet
Pfleger Foundation. This is an initiative that has a documented success in the
rehabilitation of criminal offenders while at the same time advancing the TRF’s
horse rescue mission. It’s a tribute to all involved."
"Everyone recognizes that, ultimately, this is all
about the horses," Violette added.