More than 250 supporters of Thoroughbred Charities of America bundled up against the subfreezing temperatures to make a strong showing at the non-profit's 27th Annual Stallion Seasons Auction Jan. 7 at Keeneland.
The TCA's single largest fundraiser of the year included an online seasons auction held Jan. 2-6, and then a live auction Jan. 7 of seven select stallion seasons plus an assortment of vehicles, trips, services, and collectibles. The sold-out dinner and live auction was supplemented by a silent auction featuring 55 additional items.
A total of $585,500 was raised by the live auction, which offered seasons to Taylor Made Stallions' new stallion California Chrome , Darby Dan Farm's Dialed In , Spendthrift Farms' Into Mischief and Malibu Moon , Darley's Medaglia d'Oro , and WinStar Farm's Pioneerof the Nile and Speightstown . These seasons combined generated $518,000. Aside from the stallion seasons, the most popular live auction items were an antique Louis Vuitton leather trunk made in the 1880s that sold for $31,000 and a four-day deer hunting trip at Whitetail Heaven Outfitters for $11,000.
Totals for the silent auction were not immediately available, but a number of halters for popular racehorses and stallions attracted a lot of action. A halter worn by multiple grade/group 1 winner Flintshire, who will enter stud this year, was sold for $1,000, while another for 2016 Horse of the Year finalists Arrogate and Songbird sold for $725 and $650, respectively.
The strong turnout for the live and silent auction this year was attributed in part to a couple of events last year that have highlighted the importance of TCA's mission, according to TCA president Mike McMahon.
One of those events involved providing aid to 43 horses abandoned on a Mercer County farm in Central Kentucky by trainer Maria Borell and her father, Charles, who both face 43 charges of second-degree animal cruelty. Charles "Chuck" Borell has pleaded not guilty and a warrant is still out on Maria. The Roth family's LNJ Foxwoods responded to the crisis by creating a "Horses First Fund," which provided emergency aid to the Mercer County horses and will now provide a means of providing emergency support in the future. The fund is administered by TCA.
"This was different than what the TCA's mission has traditionally been, it wasn't providing grants but providing immediate help in a situation that was very close to home," McMahon said. "But we were the only group in the nation that could put this together and start raising money with the tremendous support of LNJ Foxwoods."
TCA also has been instrumental in supporting and promoting the annual Thoroughbred Makeover, which the Retired Racehorse Project has grown into a national event now held at the Kentucky Horse Park. The mission of the Thoroughbred Makeover is to showcase the versatility of the Thoroughbred and further develop a growing secondary market for ex-racehorses. TCA has been the title sponsor of the Thoroughbred Makeover for a couple of years.
"Retirement has its place, but TCA decided a couple of years ago to invest money into the system of developing second careers," McMahon said. "The horses we are retiring sound are now valuable animals. This is the way forward with aftercare."