NY Panel Issues Plan for Retired Racehorses

NY Panel Issues Plan for Retired Racehorses
Photo: Keith Larson
Eldorado's Tune (by Concorde's Tune o/o Dasher by An Eldorado) is an OTTB found in a new career.

A New York task force has recommended a percentage of revenue from video lottery terminals and purse accounts go toward retraining and retirement programs for racehorses in the state.

The New York State Task Force on Retired Racehorses was created by the state legislature to identify productive uses for retired racehorses and increase the number available for such uses. The task force also was charged with finding “new and innovative methods that can utilize private and public funding sources to place retired racehorses,” according to a report released Dec. 23.

Based on industry statistics, the task force estimates a 39% attrition rate of Thoroughbred and Standardbred racehorses in New York each year.

The task force recommends that all New York racetracks and Resorts World Casino New York City at Aqueduct give one-half of 1% of VLT commissions to retirement efforts. Based on 2010 commissions and projections at the Aqueduct VLT casino, the percentage could produce more than $3.1 million a year, the task force report said.

In addition, the group calls for all racetracks and horsemen in the state to contribute one-half of 1% of purses, which would generate another $1.1 million based on 2010 levels. Other sources would bring the total to more than $5 million a year.

“The task force has the opinion that New York’s horse racing industry and its participants—not the betting public or taxpayers—must take primary responsibility for the after-care of retired racehorses,” the report states. “Industry stakeholders, including owners, breeders, racetracks, and trainers must address the fiscal challenges of ensure quality after-care for racehorses.”

In that regard the task force suggests owners should be prepared to pay $400 a month for at least six months after a horse is retired to support transitional retraining. The goal is to reduce the number of horses at retirement and rescue facilities.

The task force also recommends an online training course detailing the responsibilities of owners and trainers as a condition of licensure by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board and “multiple marketing and education initiatives to increase awareness of responsible retirement practices.”

Task force members said racing fans would “willingly and readily contribute to retirement causes,” so track operators “should identify and create marketing strategies to educate attendees on where horses go after they leave the track, coupled with efforts to spur community involvement.” The New York Racing Fan Advisory Council could assist in the effort, the report states.

Oversight of any funding would fall under the Retired Racehorse Fund, a 13-member advisory board with representatives from the New York Racing Association, Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack, harness racetracks, New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, Finger Lakes Horsemen’s Association, Standardbred Owners Association of New York, New York Thoroughbred Breeders, Harness Horse Breeders of New York State, the Jockeys’ Guild, a professional harness driver or trainer, and an equine veterinarian. The chair of the NYSRWB and commissioner of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets would serve as ex-officio members.

The full report is available here.

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