Organizations in the horse industry are forming a major fundraising effort Oct. 8 for victims of Hurricane Katrina to be called "Racing to the Rescue Day." The Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships also plans to raise funds for the cause.
Racetracks and horsemen's groups are signing on to participate in the effort and also to create on-site donation points for patrons to make contributions.
Already, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Churchill Downs, Inc. (owner of Fair Grounds racetrack in New Orleans), Louisiana Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA), Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association, Thoroughbred Racing Associations member tracks, the national Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, American Quarter Horse Association, Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, Thoroughbred Owners of California, The Jockey Club, Keeneland, Oak Tree Racing Association, Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, Television Games Network, Harness Tracks of America member racetracks, United States Trotting Association have jointly agreed to designate Oct. 8 as "Racing to the Rescue Day."
The NTRA also announced that the 2005 Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, to be run at New York's Belmont Park Oct. 29, will serve as a platform to raise funds for victims of Hurricane Katrina. Jockeys, trainers, breeders, and owners will be encouraged to contribute a percentage of their purse winnings on Breeders' Cup Day to the fund. The 2001 Breeders' Cup, also at Belmont, was used to raise funds in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.
"We call on every member of our industry and our fans to assist members of the Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama horse communities and their animals in their time of need," said NTRA Commissioner and Breeders' Cup president D.G. Van Clief, Jr. "We welcome the opportunity to use the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships as a means of raising funds for Hurricane Katrina victims, and in particular those within our own industry who have been impacted by this disaster, and endorse similar efforts at our member racetracks."
Said Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux: "As a Louisiana native, I am particularly delighted that the horse racing industry is stepping up to do something to aid the thousands of people within the horse racing community who lost loved ones and homes to Katrina. The situation down there is one of total devastation, and help is desperately needed and valued."
The total annual economic impact of the Louisiana horse industry is $2.4 billion. Fair Grounds has some 500 full-time employees and employs more than 1,000 people during its race meeting. The Louisiana HBPA has approximately 5,000 members spread throughout the state. Combined, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama have a population of approximately 425,000 horses.
"The racing industry is always quick to respond when tragedy strikes, and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina has been no exception," said Churchill Downs Inc. president and chief executive officer Thomas H. Meeker. "Churchill Downs Inc. is deeply appreciative of the assistance that we have received on behalf of our Louisiana employees who have been displaced, and we are pleased to offer our full support to the NTRA's charitable efforts. We will do everything we can to ensure the fund's success as the magnitude of this disaster continues to unfold."
"On behalf of the horsemen and horsewomen of the Louisiana HBPA, I would like to pass along our sincere thanks and appreciation for all the support, generosity, and prayers we are receiving from the racing industry," said Louisiana HBPA president Sean Alfortish. "Many members of the Louisiana horse racing industry are still missing and others have nothing to go back to. Nonetheless, we have faith that with the help of others, we will make it through this catastrophe."
NTRA Charities – Racing to the Rescue Fund, a special division of the NTRA's nonprofit 501 (c) (3) subsidiary NTRA Charities, has been established to receive contributions, 100% of which will be passed through to existing charities established to aid in recovery efforts.
Contributions can be made via mail to:
NTRA Charities – Racing to the Rescue Fund
c/o Bessemer Trust Company N.A.
attention Robert Elliott,
630 Fifth Avenue
New York, N.Y. 10111
Wire-transferred funds can be sent to Bessemer Trust Company N.A., Federal Reserve Symbol, ABA# 0260-0875-6, user name: Bessemer Trust NYC-for account NTRA Charities, Inc.-Racing to the Rescue Fund. All contributions are tax deductible. Questions regarding the fund can be directed to the NTRA's Lexington office, (800) 792-NTRA (6872).