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View Full Version : Mandatory Racehorse Retirement Fund?



Tommy's Girl
May. 5, 2013, 08:51 AM
I read an interesting comment on a news site, and thought I'd ask for people's opinions here. I'm not a race breeder/trainer/buyer, so please forgive industry ignorance...

I was wondering if you all think it would be possible, even profitable, to have a mandatory racehorse retirement. I know this is going to be a controversial topic, but please hear me out.

For example, a 5% retirement fee is paid into a fund at the yearling's sale (and/or every time the horse is sold as a racehorse). At the end of the horse's racing career, it would be funded for a 3 year retirement period. If at the end of the 3 year period it has not been resold for pleasure, etc., it would then be eligible for euth or slaughter.

I think this could be an interesting situation by:
- Allowing a let-down period making the TB more suited to resale or retraining for pleasure riding;
- Making TB retirement or retraining/resale modestly profitable, but perhaps more profitable than immediate sale to slaughter (perhaps initiate a new industry);
- Putting a modest financial burden on breeders, to discourage (don't know how to put this!) cavalier (?) breeding.

The fund could be used for non-earning OTTB's (stallions and broodmares would be ineligible), and the across-the-board retirement levy would make up financing gaps in the lower-priced horses.

Yes, mine is a bleeding heart, but couldn't something like this work to the industry's advantage as well as improve the OTTB's welfare?

Thanks!

Bacchus
May. 6, 2013, 10:03 AM
The industry has been discussing something like this for a long time, sans the euth/slaughter. TJC has mandatory fees that go to Thoroughbred retirement. I think some tracks have fees, but not sure if they are mandatory. It's tough to make someone pay for something they don't believe in or just don't want to do, especially with no governing body. If the industry does get some type of leadership that can actually tell people what to do, I'm sure TB retirement/re-training will be included.

Laurierace
May. 6, 2013, 10:28 AM
Most horses aren't sold at a sale. I think that a small per start fee is a better idea and one that I have been advocating for decades.

CVPeg
May. 6, 2013, 10:56 AM
Like all of the above, and also a chunk from the bettors as well. Have heard so many arguments and whines from them against this that they are the ones supporting the industry. But many don't see that without the horses, they'd have nothing to bet on, and make money themselves.

Plus so many of these then become the new "expert" breeder/trainer, without adequate practical/hard work knowledge of just what it takes to raise a horse. Those are often the ones I've seen breed without the background and in higher numbers than their experience substantiates - at least in this state. Live around NYC, and they know so much more than the up-staters, who are characterized like the rednecks on Law & Order.

I hate being less than open minded, but have seen this time and again when NY State added all the incentives, and it just goes on and on. Quite a revolving door of new breeders, then failed breeders, and more new breeders. With nothing arranged in the future for the horses' later years. Lots of those guys at the track hang around in groups feeding off each other as sudden experts, when they don't know what a hoof pick is.

I seriously looked into creating a racing partnership with a set amount of the principal for each horse going towards retirement, but the legal requirements involved in registering yourself in multiple states if marketing online was prohibitive.

Funding from many sources should be a consideration.

I do like the parameters the OP has suggested.

And I'm just realizing how much harder it is to give a new career to a fairly successful gelding who wasn't worn out when retired. Not like the partially trained OTTB of years ago, shipped in and only having placed 4th at Ak-Sar-Ben, who 6 months later did everything perfectly. So, frankly, here, I'd like to add perhaps a set amount from each purse set aside as well. Or somehow add this fund to the purse and distribute accordingly. I do believe there is a direct correlation to competitiveness as a racehorse, and difficulty in training for a second career. Except if the horse himself is tired and ready. Or was successful enough that a colt then goes into the breeding shed, and then the funds remain in 'the fund'.

I know all of this has been heavily discussed elsewhere, and very much considered. Would like to see something set up sooner than later.

Texarkana
May. 6, 2013, 08:11 PM
I've always wondered if some sort of incentive program would work in affiliation with an on-site retirement program. Something like paying a small fee/deposit every time a horse starts, but you have the opportunity to get a percentage of that money back if you surrender the horse to the retirement program at the end of his career (I'm talking $100 or $200, meat prices at most).

There's just soooooo many logistics, though...

Tommy's Girl
May. 6, 2013, 09:39 PM
Bacchus: What happens now with the retirement fees?

I agree that funding could come from any of the suggested sources; if the funds were in one pool, much like social security, with a set per annum fee for retirement, it might not be too complicated. Retirement barn owners and the horses' owners at time of retirement (providing an incentive to retire them) could then divide the profit of a pleasure/post-career sale - though meeting a meat price also makes sense.

Right now, as I understand it, retirement programs rely on donations and the sale of retrained horses. With a fund like this, more horses would get a shot at a second life as their basic needs would be met financially.

Thanks for all comments on this topic!

Slewdledo
May. 6, 2013, 11:22 PM
Everyone needs to take part. But I'd be reaaaaaaaally cautious about who administrates this and decides where the money goes.

We are currently going through a bad experience in which one of our horses slipped through the cracks to end up on a feedlot and was purchased by a Thoroughbred "rescue." (Not a 501c3.) Said rescue has NO clue how to work with horses right off the track, disregarded everything we told them about the horse, and is now bad-mouthing US.

CVPeg
May. 7, 2013, 09:01 AM
Everyone needs to take part. But I'd be reaaaaaaaally cautious about who administrates this and decides where the money goes.

We are currently going through a bad experience in which one of our horses slipped through the cracks to end up on a feedlot and was purchased by a Thoroughbred "rescue." (Not a 501c3.) Said rescue has NO clue how to work with horses right off the track, disregarded everything we told them about the horse, and is now bad-mouthing US.

Yes, my experience searching for good boarding barns - found those who "know Thoroughbreds" but didn't have a clue how to handle those who actually ran well. Not the time to let them down, how to begin work (tire that horse out on a longe line! :mad:) And then others who have heard all the rumors about all the drugs and inadequate care at tracks, and are willing to say their exuberant behavior (including vets!) is related to pain before a thorough exam is done. And therefore the horse is a bad apple.

As I've returned to riding and Throughbreds, it's become apparent just how few there are out there anymore who do know what they need. And shouldn't pat themselves on the back because they've "rescued a Thoroughbred" just for their own glory. Often takes knowledge and perseverance. But so worth it.

Bacchus
May. 7, 2013, 11:47 AM
TJC uses $25/transaction to support the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance: http://www.jockeyclub.com/mediaCenter.asp?story=583. They also have a fund for TCA and TRF. Not sure how the tracks are using their per start, etc., fees, but many have their own retirement programs. Some have a stall that a trainer can leave a horse in, no questions asked. The industry is getting there, but it's going to be a while. They are realizing that without the horse, there is no industry. The main question is, "Who is in charge?"

I think the bigwigs are dealing so much with medication and federal oversight right now, and retirement/retraining will be the next big topic, although it is in discussions.

Pronzini
May. 7, 2013, 12:16 PM
I think the appropriate questions remain who gets the money, what is it used for and for which horses. Otherwise mandatory retirement will become the next big scandal, white elephant and/or pork barrel.

Slewdledo's post is right on. There are lots of people who want to claim rescue chops who shouldn't and bad stories not withstanding, there are already people in racing doing the right thing by their retirees. They just don't get on the Internet and jump up and down about it.

Blinkers On
May. 7, 2013, 07:09 PM
I think the appropriate questions remain who gets the money, what is it used for and for which horses. Otherwise mandatory retirement will become the next big scandal, white elephant and/or pork barrel.

Slewdledo's post is right on. There are lots of people who want to claim rescue chops who shouldn't and bad stories not withstanding, there are already people in racing doing the right thing by their retirees. They just don't get on the Internet and jump up and down about it.

Agreed.
Pronzini, correct me if I am wrong. In CA Karma(I think) is the group who is the recipient of our "per start" donation?
A great many of us wonder where our money goes, and to whom it is allotted.

Pronzini
May. 7, 2013, 10:58 PM
Agreed.
Pronzini, correct me if I am wrong. In CA Karma(I think) is the group who is the recipient of our "per start" donation?
A great many of us wonder where our money goes, and to whom it is allotted.

Carma. I could opt out but I don't under the theory that it is not much money and it could be doing some good. But if there were ever the imposition of a serious mandatory fee then I'm going to want to know where that money goes.