Oklahoma Racing Commission Helps Retired, Unwanted Thoroughbreds

Retired Oklahoma-bred Thoroughbred racehorses will get help retraining for a second career thanks to a new rule passed by the Oklahoma Racing Commission last week. Under the rule, Oklahoma Breeding Development Fund Special Account funds may be used to help qualifying equine welfare organizations care for retired and unwanted Oklahoma-bred Thoroughbreds. Funding for the program will come from the state's Thoroughbred owners who have agreed to pay double registration fees to support it.

Racing Commission Executive Director Tino Reiger said funds will be used to create so-called pension funds for retired racehorses; provide retraining for animals suitable for off-track second careers in dressage, hunter/jumpers, and other disciplines; and to help equine welfare organizations prepare unwanted Thoroughbreds for new adoptive homes.

"It's a multi-faceted program," Reiger said. "We're not just going to toss a bale of hay at them and forget about them."

Reiger said it is difficult to determine just how many horses will benefit from the program. But Robin Brookins, co-founder of the nonprofit Oklahoma Thoroughbred Retirement Program said the funding will help reduce the number of Thoroughbreds that become unwanted after their racing careers have ended.

"Ex-racehorses (that) have started a retraining program in another discipline are much easier to adopt and are more sought after," Brookins said. "We believe we can increase the number of adoptable horses placed in new homes and careers with the help of this additional funding for retraining."

The new rule now moves to the Oklahoma legislature for approval, Reiger said.

"Hopefully, the Governor (Mary Fallin) will sign it in May," he said.

Disclaimer: Seek the advice of a qualified veterinarian before proceeding with any diagnosis, treatment, or therapy.