NYRA will contribute $50,000 while NYTHA and The Jockey Club will donate $25,000 each. All 29 of the regular NYRA-based riders have pledged to donate, through a voluntary checkoff program, $1 from each mount.
“This is an interim step while the New York racing community works out a more comprehensive and detailed plan to deal with this issue,” said Hal Handel, executive vice president and chief operating officer of NYRA. “We want to have something in place that we can all be proud of.”
“We make our living because of these horses,” said John Velazquez, four-time leading NYRA jockey. “Because of that, we love to be a big part of helping out with retired horses and enabling them to be better cared for.”
“After the situation with the Paraneck horses, I felt strongly that we needed to do something to make sure these horses are well taken care of after their racing careers,” said Richard Migliore, a fixture of the NYRA jockey colony. “They give us so much that it is really important we try and take care of them when they are done racing.”
The NYRA jockeys’ donations will be retroactive to June 27. The Kentucky Derby jockeys contributed $75,000 earned through their Derby sponsorships to the TRF earlier this year.
“Ensuring the proper care of Thoroughbreds after their racing careers are over is obviously a very serious issue and it’s good to see it move from the back burner to the front burner,” said Rick Violette, president of NYTHA. “NYTHA and its horsemen are proud to lend a hand in the effort.”
In January, The Jockey Club instituted a voluntary retirement checkoff option for owners and breeders that benefits Thoroughbred Charities of America and the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, with The Jockey Club matching the checkoff donations with up to $200,000 in 2009.
“Regardless of the amount raised through the checkoff, we will guarantee our $100,000 matching donation to each of those two charities,” said Alan Marzelli, president of The Jockey Club. “In so doing, we will earmark $25,000 of the contribution to TRF for this New York-based effort.”
The Jockeys’ Guild is an organization that was formed and is governed by Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse jockeys who ride throughout the United States. The organization represents jockeys on a national and local basis to address issues concerning riders. The Jockeys’ Guild also assists injured and disabled riders and their families. The Guild has served as an advocate for the jockeys since it was incorporated in 1940. Additional information is available at jockeysguild.com.
Founded in 1955, and franchised to run thoroughbred racing at New York’s three major tracks through 2033, the New York Racing Association boasts a lineage that actually stretches back almost 150 years. NYRA tracks are the cornerstone of the state’s Thoroughbred business, which contributes more than $2 billion annually to New York State’s urban, suburban and rural economy. In 2008, 1,735,715 people attended the live races at NYRA tracks. Factoring nationwide off-track wagering, the average daily betting handle on NYRA races alone totals more than $9.7 million every race day. NYRA has a vast network of websites, including nyra.com, belmontstakes.com, and nyragroupsales.com.
For over half a century, NYTHA has represented the interests of horse owners and trainers at NYRA tracks. NYTHA’s mission is composed of safeguarding horsemen’s financial interests, providing benevolence to the backstretch community and supporting equine research. Additional information is available at nytha.com.
The Jockey Club, founded in 1894 and dedicated to the improvement of Thoroughbred breeding and racing, is the breed registry for North American Thoroughbreds. In fulfillment of its mission, The Jockey Club provides support and leadership on a wide range of important industry initiatives and it serves the information and technology needs of owners, breeders, media, fans and farms, among others. Additional information is available at jockeyclub.com.
Founded in 1983, the TRF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to retiring Thoroughbred racehorses after they are finished racing. TRF operates retraining and adoption facilities and satellite farms across the country as well as vocational training in equine care for inmates at nine correctional facilities nationwide. TRF currently maintains approximately 1,800 horses. Additional information is available at trfinc.org.