LEXINGTON, Ky. —Thoroughbred Charities of America has named equestrian Denny Emerson and Down the Stretch Ranch as its first TCA Award of Merit recipients of 2017. Award of Merit recipients are nominated by the leadership of state Thoroughbred owners and breeders associations and are presented at each state association's annual awards ceremonies.
"Originally started in celebration of our 25th anniversary and now its third year, TCA Award of Merit recipients represent those individuals and organizations working to uphold TCA's mission among the constituencies of the state breeders associations," said Mike McMahon, president of TCA. "Within our industry there are many organizations and people working on behalf of Thoroughbreds and those who care for them. We feel it is very important to recognize the efforts of those that often don't receive recognition for their dedication and commitment."
Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron presented Emerson with the TCA Award of Merit on February 11 at the North Carolina Thoroughbred Association's annual awards dinner in Chapel Hill, N.C. Described by the Chronicle of the Horse as one of the most influential horsemen of the twentieth century, Emerson is the only equestrian to have won both an international gold medal in eventing and a Tevis Cup buckle in endurance riding. He and his wife own and operate the Tamarack Hill Farms in Vermont and North Carolina. It is Emerson's advocacy for off-track-Thoroughbreds that have garnered him this award. An entry in the 2016 Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover with a horse adopted from Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association Turning for Home, he purposely selected a chestnut mare in order to dispel a myth he commonly hears regarding their personality. Additionally, he recently adopted a Thoroughbred from another TCA Award of Merit recipient organization, Blue Bloods Thoroughbred Adoption in N.C. Emerson's promotion of the breed on his social media platforms has elevated awareness among sport horse enthusiasts.
Denny Emerson and Chris McCarron
Down the Stretch Ranch was presented with the TCA Award of Merit on February 25 at the Washington Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association awards banquet held at Emerald Downs. Co-founded by Boone McCanna and Jerry and Janet Hollendorfer, Down the Stretch Ranch in a nonprofit organization devoted to assisting veterans through the use of equine-assisted therapy. According to the organization, through the use of equine therapy, horses help to bring companionship and effectively change the lives of veterans who suffer from a diverse range of challenges.
Boone McCanna and M. Anne Sweet
TCA Award of Merit nominees consist of individuals or organizations working to provide a better life for Thoroughbreds or the people working with them, either on the backstretch or on the farm. Both achievements are reflective of TCA's all encompassing mission to help Thoroughbreds and the people who care for them. Subsequent award of merit winners will be announced monthly.
TCA's mission is to provide a better life for Thoroughbreds, both during and after their racing careers, by supporting qualified repurposing and retirement organizations and by helping the people who care for them. TCA distributes grants to several categories of Thoroughbred-related nonprofits including rehabilitation, retraining, rehoming and retirement organizations; backstretch and farm employee programs; equine-assisted therapy programs; and research organizations. Since its inception in 1990, TCA has granted over $21 million to more than 200 charities that successfully meet the criteria set forth in its annual grant application. From 2000-2015, more than 95% of TCA's expenditures were allocated to program services including direct grants. TCA is the charitable arm of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA).