Finger Lakes Racetrack to Open Adoption Facility

Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack will become what it is believed to be the first racetrack with a standalone racehorse adoption facility on its grounds.

The western New York track announced that funds secured for the Finger Lakes Thoroughbred Adoption Program during its benefit dinner Aug. 18 will enable construction of the facility. In addition to the $26,000 raised at the dinner, New York Sen. Michael Nozzolio announced procurement of $60,000 in state funding to assist in building the center.

The Finger Lakes Thoroughbred Adoption Program will have a central headquarters and be able to showcase adoptable horses to the public. The facility, projected to open in June 2007, will include 10 stalls, as well as a reception and office area.

"My goal was to have a facility on the property where we would have horses retiring on our racetrack, first of all so we could keep better track of them, rather than have them at eight different boarding facilities in the area," said FLTAP executive director Margaret Ohlinger, who eventually plans to add an indoor arena at the facility.

"(The adoption facility) will make managing the program much easier. It lends itself into developing into a whole lot more, with volunteers coming to help. We've even had offers from people wanting to re-school the horses and develop programs for kids and grooms."

FLTAP was formed in 2004 as the result of a joint effort between Finger Lakes and the Finger Lakes Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association. Base funding is supplied by both organizations, also believed to be an industry first.

"We get a dollar per start from racetrack management, and the HBPA matches it," Ohlinger said. "Last year, we made just over $22,000 for our program."

The mission of FLTAP is to assist in the placement of former Finger Lakes racehorses with equine adoption agencies or approved private individuals. By networking with several equine adoption facilities throughout the Northeast, FLTAP ensures a quick and smooth transition for horses in need of a second career by providing for transportation, board, feed, medication, and other treatments.

Applications for adoption can be downloaded on the FLTAP Web site at Ohlinger said the average adoption fee is about $500.

With the hope other tracks would follow suit in developing their own adoption programs, Ohlinger said: "If there's the ability to build and take care of the horses that are taking care of you, then you ought to do that."