Aurebach's Karma with CARMA

Aurebach's Karma with CARMA
Photo: Benoit
Madeline Auerbach
Look in the winner’s circle after any offspring of Unusual Heat wins a race and you’ll likely see a petite, brown-haired woman hugging the jockey, high-fiving the trainer, or congratulating the owner. Madeline Auerbach fiercely champions her former racehorse-turned-stallion, and she, along with trainer Barry Abrams, has been his biggest booster.

Now, Auerbach has channeled that enthusiasm to California’s retired racehorses. With the help of the Thoroughbred Owners of California and its chair, Marsha Naify, Auerbach is the driving force behind the California Retirement Management Account (CARMA). If Auerbach has her way—and rest assured it won’t be for lack of trying—every racehorse that generates California handle will have a home following its racing career.

“I feel we have a responsibility as horse owners to take care of all horses to the best of our ability,” said Auerbach, who chairs CARMA.

“I take care of my horses, but when they get claimed or bought and move away, I don’t always know what happens to them. I hope that wherever they are, if they get to the end of their days and there is no one to take care of them, that there will be an organization like CARMA.”

CARMA has rallied the state’s Thoroughbred owners to spearhead efforts to raise funds for California organizations that house or retrain former racehorses. Beginning in mid-July, with the start of the Del Mar meeting in the south and the Santa Rosa meeting in the north, owners are donating 0.3% of their purse earnings to CARMA automatically through the paymaster.

“That’s just the beginning, though,” Auerbach said. “We hope to get all facets of the industry behind CARMA so that we can take care of as many horses as possible.”

CARMA has scheduled a kick-off fund-raising event the week of Del Mar’s premier race, the $1 million Pacific Classic (gr. I). The charity poker tournament, featuring a live and silent auction, will be held following the races Aug. 21 at the Del Mar Hilton. Auction items include seasons to Bertrando and Unusual Heat, guaranteed live foal.

When Del Mar’s meeting began, Auerbach worked with the track to install posters and donation boxes throughout the facility. This program, called Pocket Change for CARMA, allows fan to participate.

CARMA will distribute the funds generated from all of these efforts to equine retirement facilities. The organization is establishing criteria for which groups receive grants, a major consideration being the ability of those groups to raise funds themselves.

“The horses have got to have performed on California tracks,” Auerbach said. “They do not have to be California-breds, but they must have raced in California.”

Because some of the funds come from California owners’ purses, generated by California handle, the horses that will benefit must have contributed to that handle through their racing.

The California Horse Racing Board approved the automatic purse deductions late last year, a measure backed by TOC. Owners are able to opt out if they do not choose to participate in CARMA.

“So far most owners are choosing to support the fund,” Auerbach said.

CARMA, a 501 (c) (3) corporation, has established a 12-member board of directors that includes Naify as vice chair, Santa Anita president Ron Charles, racetrack announcer Trevor Denman, trainers Doug O’Neill and John Sadler, owner Samantha Siegel, and Hall of Fame former jockey Gary Stevens.

Tax-deductible donations may be sent to CARMA, P.O. Box 1086, Sierra Madre, Calif. 91025-9086.

“We expect everybody to help us do the right thing for these horses,” Auerbach said.

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