The Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance has enacted a plan for both buyers and consignors at Fasig-Tipton, Keeneland, the Ocala Breeders' Sale Co., and Barretts Equine Limited to automatically contribute a small portion of their respective purchases or gross sales to the organization.
The TAA, a recently formed entity designed to serve as both the accrediting body for Thoroughbred aftercare facilities and a fundraising body to support these approved facilities, raised a combined $86,200 from this year's Keeneland January mixed sale, OBS March 2-year-old sale, and Keeneland April 2-year-old sale. The organization is now looking for similar positive results during the upcoming yearling sales, the first of which is the Fasig-Tipton July auction July 15.
Buyers and consignors at previous sales this year donated .05% of their respective purchases or gross sales, while the sales companies contributed an additional .05% per transaction.
"Where we need the most help is getting momentum on the buyer side of the sales because it's the hardest group to educate about what we're doing," said Mike Ziegler, executive director of the TAA. For those that do wish to participate in the donation program, .05% will be automatically added to purchases or gross sales.
Ziegler explained how the amount requested is relatively small. For example .05% of a $50,000 transaction is just $25. But across many individuals these contributions add up to a meaningful amount to support retired racehorses.
The TAA announced in May that it had accredited its first three Thoroughbred aftercare facilities: Florida Thoroughbred Retirement and Adoptive Care, New Vocations, and Southern California Thoroughbred Rescue. These organizations are now eligible to receive financial support from the TAA for the ongoing care of retired Thoroughbreds.
Following a detailed application process and careful onsite examinations by TAA inspectors and independent veterinarians, the facilities were each judged to have met or exceeded TAA requirements in the areas of operations, education, horse care management, facility standards and services, and adoption policies and protocols.
The majority of donations the TAA receives from buyers, consignors, and sale companies will be used to financially aid the accredited aftercare facilities. Ziegler said there are 27 additional organizations that have submitted applications to become accredited.
"The accreditation process is protecting donors and horses alike for different reasons," said Ziegler. "We want to make sure the horses are being taken care of and there's a check and balance."
The TAA is able to keep its operating costs down by using resources from The Jockey Club to manage its website and do its accounting. Media relations for the TAA are accomplished through both The Jockey Club and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.
"It's people that already have jobs in the industry that are working toward making sure the most amount of money goes back to the horses," Ziegler explained.
He said some buyers and consignors have been resistant toward TAA donations at the sales since they already contribute to Thoroughbred aftercare through stallion fees and/or other avenues.
But the goal of the TAA is to establish a broad-based, automatic funding mechanism at every touch point in a Thoroughbred's life. This includes, but is not limited to stallion owners, breeders, sales participants, owners, trainers, jockeys, race tracks, service providers, and even racing fans. Requesting small amounts across multiple touch points limits the burden placed on any one group.
"The simple concept is if the entire industry steps up and gives a little money from a lot of different transactions, then it will account to a pretty good chunk of money to take care of the horses," Ziegler said.