The Thoroughbred Thank You Fund, established by 1986 West Point graduate and retired Army officer Terry Finley, plans to bring 200 New York-based military personnel and West Point cadets to the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at Belmont Park Oct. 29. Included will be New York reservists from the 369th Harlem Hellfighters Battalion and the 69th Infantry, who recently returned from tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The program was made possible by a fund raising effort conducted by Friends of New York Racing, Inc. and West Point Thoroughbreds. The National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Breeders' Cup Limited, and the New York Racing Association are providing additional support. A gift by Thoroughbred owner and philanthropist John Hettinger will also provide each service person and cadet with a $10 wagering voucher good for any of the day's races.
"I am pleased to announce that we are well on the way to meeting our goal of hosting 200 New York-based military personnel to what is one of the greatest days in sports and entertainment," said Finley, who heads up West Point Thoroughbreds. "I would like to personally thank all the people who made generous contributions to this cause, and welcome others to join them."
Said Hettinger, the owner of Akindale Farm, and the founder of Blue Horse Charities, an organization that provides funds for the retirement of Thoroughbreds, "It is a privilege to be able to say thank you to these heroic men and women. I hope each of them has a great day at the races and is able to turn their vouchers into a winning wager."
Also making a sizeable contribution to the fund was Thoroughbred Charities of America. The TCA provides for a better life for Thoroughbreds both during and after their racing careers by supporting retirement, rescue, and research and by helping the people who work with them.
"I look forward to meeting the men and women who will be attending the Breeders' Cup courtesy of the Thoroughbred Thank You Fund," said Herb Moelis, president of TCA. "I'm sure that, for some of them, it will be their first visit to a championship horse racing event, and we're delighted to play a role in introducing them to our great sport."