The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation raised more than $500,000 at its annual gala, held Monday. Aug. 4, at the Saratoga Golf & Polo Club. The bulk of the money, a record amount for the event, was raised through separate live auctions, one for season options to breed to select stallions, the other for "unique experiences."The list of experiences included a small speaking part on the television drama series "Law & Order", a trip to the Dubai World Cup and the chance to throw out the first pitch at a Baltimore Orioles game during Preakness Week.More than 450 people attended the event."We are thrilled by the response," said TRF executive director Diana Pikulski. "In just five years , our party has grown into a major social function on the Saratoga calendar and has helped up to raise some desperately need funds to care for the more than 600 horses we have."The top-selling item was an option to breed to handicap star Mineshaft during the 2004 breeding season, which went for $70,000 (for the right to breed at the live foal price of $30,000). An option to Distorted Humor went for $30,000 (for the right to breed at the live foal price of $20,000) and an option to Fasliyev sold for $25,000 (for the right to breed at the live foal price of $25,000). The Mineshaft, Distorted Humor and Fasliyev options were donated by Lane's End Farm, WinStar Farm and Coolmore Stud, respectively.A late entry to the auction was an option to breed to Eclipse Award winner Vindication, which was donated during the party by Padua Stables."My family is very passionate about horses and my wife is sensitive to the way that horses are treated after they're done racing," said Padua's Satish Sanan. "When you take something out of the game, you like to give something back."Vindication option sold for $20,000 (for the right to breed at the live foal price of $50,000).
Sanan was not done. He also paid $15,000 to have artist Leslie Priggen do a painting of Vindication, which, he said, will be given to Hill 'n' Dale Farm's John Sikura. Upon his retirement, Vindication will stand at Hill 'n' Dale. With Sanan and Robert McNair bidding against one another for the painting, Priggen agreed to do a second painting, which went to McNair, also for $15,000.The top selling experience was the Dubai World Cup trip, donated by the Dubai World
Cup Committee. It went for $32,000 and was bought by Kurt Butenhoff. Robert Masterson bought the Orioles package, which also includes box seats to the Preakness and the Black-Eyed Susan, for $17,000. The baseball event was donated by Jeff Angelos. A weekend of golfing and relaxation at R.D. Hubbard's Bighorn Championship Golf Resort also sold for $15,000.Actor and horse owner David Cassidy performed after the auction, .Founded in 1983, the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation is the largest and oldest equine rescue organization in the world. A non-profit organization, the TRF provides lifetime retirement for retired racehorses, as well as re-training programs that prepare sound horses for adoption to new homes. The principal retirement and rehabilitation facilities are located at correctional facilities in New York, Florida, Maryland and Kentucky, where the horses' caretakers are inmates who derive job skills as well as emotional benefit.