NYRA, NYTHA and NYTB announce the creation of New York Thoroughbred Aftercare Day at Saratoga
by Andy Belfiore
Rick Violette Stakes highlights a day dedicated to retired racehorses on Wednesday, July 21
The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA), New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (NYTHA), and New York Thoroughbred Breeders (NYTB) will host the inaugural New York Thoroughbred Aftercare Day at Saratoga Race Course on Wednesday, July 21.
The featured race will be the Rick Violette Stakes, named for the late NYTHA President who spearheaded the creation of the TAKE2 Second Career Thoroughbred Program and TAKE THE LEAD Retirement Program, and was a founding member of the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA).
The timing of the event is no coincidence, explained trainer Rick Schosberg, who succeeded Violette as President of TAKE2 and TAKE THE LEAD in 2018.
“We’re proud to carry on Rick Violette’s work in promoting and protecting our equine athletes,” Schosberg said. “The horses give us so much – the excitement of the race, the pleasure of their company, our appreciation of their power and beauty. We owe our very livelihoods to them. It is our duty to make sure they have safe haven when their racing careers are over.”
New York Thoroughbred Aftercare Day will begin with former racehorses showcasing the skills learned in their second careers. More than 800 racehorses have been retired through TAKE THE LEAD from the NYRA racetracks.
The majority of the horses go on to New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program, which has a facility in Gansevoort, NY, and ReRun, based just outside of Albany in East Greenbush, for retraining and rehoming. The two organizations will bring former racehorses out to the track for live demonstrations before the first race on July 21.
ReRun will be represented by two New York-bred stalwarts – former claimer Golden Giant, and former stakes horse Uncle Sigh. Both retired through TAKE THE LEAD in early 2020, and have found success in second careers in the show ring. Golden Giant, a winner at every horse show he has attended to date, will compete in the Hunter Division of the Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover in Kentucky in October.
New Vocations will be represented by a trio of horses. Inventor’s Gate, who made 31 starts before retiring in 2019, will be put through his paces in ranch riding; Remembering Bobbie will demonstrate his dressage moves; and Soaring Star will show off his show jumping ability.
“It’s amazing how versatile and adaptable retired racehorses can be,” NYTHA President Joe Appelbaum said. “Most have put their racing careers behind them by the time they are five or six years old, but horses can live well into their 20s. That’s why New York’s horsemen are staunch supporters not only of Thoroughbred aftercare, but also in promoting second career opportunities that will create a market for our horses long after they leave the track.”
The New York Thoroughbred industry is a leader in aftercare, donating more than $1.28 million toward racehorse retirement every year.
In addition to the contributions made by NYRA, NYTHA, NYTB, the NYRA jockey colony, and individual owners and trainers, there have been two ground-breaking programs implemented at the NYRA tracks. Owners pay a per-start fee for every horse that races, and they pay a surcharge on every horse claimed out of a NYRA race. Those two programs alone raise about $500,000 every year.
“New York State is the national leader when it comes to responsibly protecting our retired racehorses,” said NYRA President & CEO Dave O’Rourke. "NYRA is pleased to partner with NYTHA and the NYTB to create a day at Saratoga to honor the hard work of so many involved in thoroughbred aftercare. We look forward to cementing this day as a Saratoga tradition for many years to come.”
Racing fans can show their support by texting AFTERCARE2021 to 44321 and donating to TAKE THE LEAD, or by opting to make a donation to the TAA when cashing a winning ticket on an AmTote International self-service betting terminal. All donations are tax deductible.
Fans in attendance at Saratoga on New York Thoroughbred Aftercare Day also will have the opportunity to learn more about the many aftercare initiatives in New York, with video presentations on TAKE2 and TAKE THE LEAD, and guests on NYRA’s in-house broadcast, as well as Saratoga Live, discussing everything from the process of retiring a horse from the track to finding the perfect adopter to the many second careers that are suitable for Thoroughbreds.
In addition to New Vocations, ReRun, TAKE2 and TAKE THE LEAD, the Community Booth behind the jockeys’ quarters will offer information on six additional TAA-accredited aftercare organizations that support efforts to provide happy and healthy retirement for New York’s racehorses: ACTT Naturally, Akindale Thoroughbred Rescue, Lucky Orphans, Old Friends at Cabin Creek, Second Chance Thoroughbreds and the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.
The culmination of the day will be the post parade for the Rick Violette Stakes, which will be led by New York-bred millionaire Zivo. The winner of the 2014 Suburban Handicap, Zivo is now retired and enjoying life as the stable pony for trainer Cherie DeVaux.
“As breeders of our equine athletes, the majority of our members foal, raise, break and train the Thoroughbreds that compete in New York and across the country,” said NYTB President Thomas J. Gallo III. “We like to know that when a horse leaves our care to have a career on the racetrack, then once retired continues to have a prosperous and meaningful life. Each of the organizations participating today agree it is important and necessary to bring awareness of the widespread aftercare efforts in New York directly to our fans at Saratoga.”
About TAKE2 Second Career Thoroughbred Program
The TAKE2 Second Career Thoroughbred Program, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, was created in 2012 with the goal of making it easier to find new homes for retired racehorses. TAKE2 sponsors prize money in Thoroughbred Hunter and Jumper classes, high-score year-end awards and the $20,000 TAKE2 Hunter & Jumper Finals. The program partners with more than 370 horse shows nationwide.
TAKE THE LEAD works with owners and trainers to find placements for the horses retiring from the NYRA tracks with TAA-accredited aftercare organizations. Co-funded by members of the Thoroughbred industry around the country: New York Thoroughbred Breeders; New York Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund; Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Associations in Maryland (through Beyond the Wire) and Pennsylvania (through Turning for Home); Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company; and members of the racing and horse show communities across the country, TAKE2 is a 2020 TCA grantee. For more information on TAKE2 and TAKE THE LEAD, go to www.take2tbreds.com.