IL Horsemen, Tracks to Assist Retired Horses

Illinois horsemen and tracks have created a program for retired racehorses.

The Illinois Thoroughbred Horseman’s Association, Arlington Park, and Hawthorne Race Course have agreed to cooperate in a program to provide for the care of retired Thoroughbred racehorses.

The program, which will be operated under the auspices of the Illinois THA and administered by a designated committee of Illinois THA board members, began at the start of the Arlington meet April 29.

“The long-term well-being of every Thoroughbred racehorse is of paramount importance to everyone involved in the sport of Thoroughbred racing,” Illinois THA president Mike Campbell said in a statement. “This program goes a long way to help ensure that every horse that regularly races in Chicago has the opportunity to live out its post-racing years under the best possible circumstances.”

The program will be funded by the Illinois THA and both Thoroughbred tracks. The horsemen’s group has designated that 0.3% of purses earned at Arlington and Hawthorne be directed to the fund.

Arlington will contribute $25,000 as its 2010 contribution to the program. Hawthorne will contribute $12,500 for its upcoming fall meet and $12,500 per race meet in 2011.

“What happens to the racehorse at the conclusion of its racing career should be of concern to all industry participants,” Arlington president Roy Arnold said.  “I am pleased that all the stakeholders in Chicago Thoroughbred racing have stepped up to take part in this important program which gives retired racehorses a chance at a second career.”

“I am pleased to see the horsemen and tracks come together regarding horse retirement,” Hawthorne assistant general manager Jim Miller said. “Without these magnificent animals, we wouldn't have the great history behind this sport that we do. Now we are able to provide opportunities for these athletes once they leave the racetrack, and that is a very gratifying feeling.”

The Illinois THA committee will determine the processes under which the program will operate including the determination of eligible horses, selection of retirement facilities, and the amount of funding to be provided to each facility, while each racetrack will be responsible for the administration and disbursement of the funds.