The New York Racing Association and many members of the Jockeys’ Guild who ride at its three racetracks, along with the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and The Jockey Club, have jointly pledged more than $100,000 in financial support in 2009 to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, which provides humane retirement options for Thoroughbreds at the end of their racing careers.
NYRA will contribute $50,000 while NYTHA and The Jockey Club will donate $25,000 each. All 29 of the regular NYRA-based riders have pledged to donate, through a voluntary checkoff program, $1 from each mount.
“This is an example of industry stakeholders working together to do the right thing for the welfare of racehorses when they can no longer race,” said Diana Pikulski, executive director of the TRF. “We are very grateful to NYRA, NYTHA, The Jockey Club, and the Jockeys’ Guild and we would encourage organizations and individuals at other racing circuits around the country to follow their example.”
“This is an interim step while the New York racing community works out a more comprehensive and detailed plan to deal with this issue,” said Hal Handel, executive vice president and chief operating officer of NYRA. “We want to have something in place that we can all be proud of.”
“We make our living because of these horses,” said John Velazquez, four-time leading NYRA jockey. “Because of that, we love to be a big part of helping out with retired horses and enabling them to be better cared for.”
“After the situation with the Paraneck horses, I felt strongly that we needed to do something to make sure these horses are well taken care of after their racing careers,” said Richard Migliore, a fixture of the NYRA jockey colony. “They give us so much that it is really important we try and take care of them when they are done racing.”
The NYRA jockeys’ donations will be retroactive to June 27. The Kentucky Derby jockeys contributed $75,000 earned through their Derby sponsorships to the TRF earlier this year.
“Ensuring the proper care of Thoroughbreds after their racing careers are over is obviously a very serious issue and it’s good to see it move from the back burner to the front burner,” said Rick Violette, president of NYTHA. “NYTHA and its horsemen are proud to lend a hand in the effort.”
In January, The Jockey Club instituted a voluntary retirement checkoff option for owners and breeders that benefits Thoroughbred Charities of America and the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, with The Jockey Club matching the checkoff donations with up to $200,000 in 2009.
“Regardless of the amount raised through the checkoff, we will guarantee our $100,000 matching donation to each of those two charities,” said Alan Marzelli, president of The Jockey Club. “In so doing, we will earmark $25,000 of the contribution to TRF for this New York-based effort.”