The "Thoroughbred Thank You Fund" will bring New York-based military personnel and West Point cadets as special guests to the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at Belmont Park Oct. 29.
Friends of New York Racing, Inc., the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, and the New York Racing Association, Inc. are combining to raise funds and make other arrangements to host as many troops as possible at this fall's running of the World Thoroughbred Championships, considered the greatest single day of horseracing anywhere in the world.
"Many of these young soldiers, sailors, and airmen will be just back from, or on their way to, Iraq or Afghanistan," said Terry Finley, president of West Point Thoroughbreds, who created the Thoroughbred Thank You Fund. "We hosted 400 soldiers and their families at the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), and know they enjoy a day away from their normal routines to attend a great sports and entertainment event."
Finley said invitees would include all branches of the military, including troops from Fort Drum in upstate New York as well as New York reservists and other units based at West Point. He said extending the Kentucky Derby project to this year's Breeders' Cup at Belmont recently was proposed by Friends of New York Racing, and then quickly endorsed by NTRA and NYRA officials.
"We are pleased to join Terry Finley, Friends of New York Racing, and NYRA in making plans for these special guests to attend this year's event," said NTRA Commissioner and CEO D.G. Van Clief.
The Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships is administered by Breeders' Cup Limited and the NTRA, this year in cooperation with NYRA and host track Belmont Park. The BCWTC was last held at Belmont Park in Oct., 2001, soon after Sept. 11th. At that time, officials dedicated the event to those lost in the attacks and raised more than $5 million for families of 9/11 victims.
This year's project will be organized by Finley and West Point Thoroughbreds, with fundraising coordination and administration provided by Friends of New York Racing. The NTRA, Breeders' Cup Ltd., and NYRA will provide logistical support and other in-kind contributions.
"It is a privilege to host the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships on the 100th anniversary season of Belmont Park," said Charles Hayward, NYRA President and CEO. "It is an honor to show our appreciation to many young Americans, who proudly serve and protect our great nation, as part of this exciting international event."
Contributions to help defray transportation, lodging, food, and other related expenses can be made to: Thoroughbred Thank You Fund, c/o FNYR, 800 Third Avenue, Suite 901, New York, NY 10022. Any surplus will be donated to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund or used for future Thoroughbred Thank You Fund events, including hosting service personnel at the 2006 Kentucky Derby. For more information, please visit www.thankyoufund.com.