The National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Daily Racing Form, and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters announced Jan. 6 that the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance will be presented with the Special Eclipse Award during the 43rd annual Eclipse Awards ceremony Jan. 18 at Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino in Hallandale Beach, Fla.
The Special Award honors extraordinary service, individual achievements in, or contributions to the sport of Thoroughbred racing.
A 501(c)(3) non-profit based in Lexington, the TAA serves as both an accrediting body for aftercare facilities that care for Thoroughbreds following their racing careers and a fundraising body to support the approved facilities. Funded initially by seed money from Breeders' Cup Ltd., The Jockey Club, and Keeneland Association, the TAA is comprised of and supported by owners, trainers, breeders, racetracks, jockeys, aftercare professionals, and other industry groups.
"This is a tremendous honor for the TAA, and great recognition of the substantial achievements this organization has made," said Jack Wolf, TAA board president and co-managing partner of Starlight Racing. "In under two years we have successfully assembled a top-notch team and signed on supporters from across the industry, enabling us to accredit 23 Thoroughbred aftercare facilities and award $1 million in grants to support the great work they are doing to care for our retired racehorses. While there is much work ahead of us, this award is an opportunity to celebrate our successes and thank our donors, supporters, and the TAA team for their hard work and dedication to fulfilling the TAA's mission."
The seven-figures-worth of financial grants awarded last year were the first since TAA was formed in February 2012. Individual grant awards were based on a comprehensive review by the TAA Grants Committee and Board, and the grants will be used for the ongoing care of retired Thoroughbreds.
"The TAA has made extraordinary progress in ensuring safe and stable adoption, retraining, and retirement opportunities," said NTRA Alex Waldrop, president of the NTRA, which administers the Eclipse Awards. "The industry has demonstrated a newfound willingness to proactively address our most critical issues and the TAA is a prime example of this cooperative spirit. Every racehorse deserves proper care for the entirety of its natural life and all of us who derive our livelihoods from them share the responsibility of providing as much."
The Special Award will be given for the 23rd time since it was inaugurated in 1971 to honor Robert J. Kleberg, manager of the famed King Ranch. Subsequent recipients have included racing luminaries such as Bill Shoemaker, C.V. Whitney, Edward J. DeBartolo, Richard Duchossois, Russell Baze, Laffit Pincay Jr., Dale Baird, Team Zenyatta and, most recently, Rapid Redux. The TAA will be the second aftercare-related recipient, following Monique Koehler, founder of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, in 2009.