The National Thoroughbred Racing Association has announced that John Hettinger has been selected to receive a Special Eclipse Award for his humanitarian efforts to ensure the safety and well being of racehorses on-track and after their racing careers are over.In addition to supporting the Exceller Farm, a satellite site for the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, the country's oldest retirement organization for racehorses, Hettinger was instrumental in the founding of the Racehorse Adoption Referral Program (RARP). Through a toll-free number, (877) 576-NTRA, the RARP provides information services on Thoroughbred adoption to potential adopters and to owners wishing to place their horses in non-racing environments.The winner of the Special Eclipse Award is determined by a committee composed of representatives from the Eclipse Award-presenting organizations: the NTRA, Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers Association. "Mr. Hettinger has taken the gratifying, hard work done by many organizations at the local level and brought them together on a national level by founding the Racehorse Adoption Referral Program," said committee member and NTWA President Jay Privman. "The toll-free, 800 number is an ideal way to facilitate communication between those who have horses they want to donate and those who are looking to adopt.""I'm delighted, not only because I'm honored to receive an Eclipse Award, but because I believe this will help to raise public awareness of the referral program and the many rescue groups that are helping to save the lives of our horses," said Hettinger. The RARP operates under NTRA Charities, the nonprofit branch of the NTRA and works in conjunction with the numerous adoption programs for ex-racehorses that now exist nationwide. Those organizations include the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, the United Pegasus Foundation, the California Equine Retirement Foundation, ReRun, Days End Farm Horse Rescue, Double D Equine Rescue, Equine Advocates, Equine Rescue and Rehabilitation, Greener Pastures, Lost & Found Horse Rescue, New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program, New York Horse Rescue, Ryerss Farm for Aged Equines, the Western New York Equine Sanctuary and Wind Ridge Farm Equine Sanctuary.The owner of Akindale Farm in Pawling, N.Y., Hettinger is a member of The Jockey Club, a trustee of the New York Racing Association and chairman of the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, world's largest private funder for equine medical research.
The Eclipse Awards are bestowed upon horses and individuals whose outstanding achievements have earned them the title of Champion in their respective categories. Eclipse Awards are also given to recognize members of the media for outstanding coverage of Thoroughbred racing.