NYTHA Establishes Equine Retirement Program

Will partner with aftercare programs for second careers for horses at NYRA tracks.

The New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association has launched a retirement program for Thoroughbreds stabled at New York Racing Association tracks.

Called "Take The Lead," the program will partner with established aftercare programs to provide rehabilitation and retraining placements for racehorses when they are ready to begin second careers, according to a New York THA release.

"New York's owners and trainers are committed to providing aftercare for retired racehorses," New York THA president Rick Violette Jr. said in a statement. "NYTHA has always lent its support to organizations like New Vocations and the Exceller Fund, and Take The Lead will enhance our efforts to ensure safe and happy new homes for our horses."

In order to be eligible for the program, a horse must be registered with The Jockey Club and stabled with a trainer who is based at a NYRA track for a minimum of six months annually. Intact males are not eligible, and are required to be gelded at the owner's expense.

There is no charge to submit a horse to the program, but donations are encouraged, according to the organization.

To get a horse into the program, an owner or trainer will submit foal papers, a negative Coggins test, pertinent X-rays or ultrasounds, and paperwork relinquishing ownership of the horse. When the application has been approved, the horse will receive a complete veterinary evaluation, and Take The Lead will then locate an appropriate placement and arrange for transportation to the horse's new home.

According to the New York THA, Down Broadway was the first horse enrolled in the program after the 4-year-old gelding finished third in a maiden claiming test at Aqueduct Racetrack Feb. 24.

"He's sound, but his heart isn't in it," Rick Schosberg, who trained Down Broadway and serves as the chair of the New York THA Aftercare Committee, said after the race.

The release said a new home for Down Broadway was arranged two days after his March 2 arrival at the New Vocations facility in Lexington March 2.

"Providing the best care possible for our horses is a responsibility that trainers take very seriously, and part of that responsibility is knowing when it is time to retire a horse," Schosberg said. "But finding a new home is not always an easy task. Aftercare organizations have made adoption a more viable option, and Take The Lead will serve to expedite the process for our horsemen while making sure that our adoption partners have the funding they need to continue their good work.

"The hope is that Take The Lead will encourage owners and trainers to include a retirement plan in their racing programs."

"With so many horses in need of our services, it is great to have NYTHA's assistance in getting horses into our program and even more importantly raising funds to keep us running," New Vocations program director Anna Ford said.

In addition to New Vocations, Take The Lead will partner with Akindale Thoroughbred Rescue, ReRun, and Second Chances Thoroughbreds.