There was a touching letter in BloodHorse today, written by Herb Moelis of the Thoroughbred Charities of America. He is retiring as president after 20 years and took the opportunity to write an open call to the racing industry, exhorting all members to make the care and welfare of horses at the end of their career an obligation rather than a choice.
For those who may not be aware, the TCA is a fund-raising organization whose mission is "to raise money for distribution to more than 200 charitable organizations in Thoroughbred rescue, retirement, retraining, research, education, jockey & backstretch, and therapeutic riding programs."
As anyone who is even a casual fan of horse-racing knows, there are far more unwanted Thoroughbreds churned out by the industry. Many of these end up neglected or even slaughtered. Moelis' point is that by making financial support to charitable organizations an obligation to everyone involved in the industry, you would easily be able to provide the necessary care and support for these unwanted animals. It makes perfect sense. Why shouldn't the burden of responsibility fall on the part of all racing participants (from all sectors from breeders to trainers to jockeys and vets) to ensure that the horses will be provided for, even after their useful life is over?! Moelis states it most eloquently: "How about the racetracks and owners, where annual purses are about $1 billion? How about purchasers and sellers at the sale companies’ auctions, where about $652 million changes hands every year? How about the vets, trainers, and jockeys, all of whom make their living from racehorses? If we were to assess a small percentage on everyone who participates in the Thoroughbred industry, we could accomplish our mission without burdening any one sector.
My point is pretty obvious. The necessary funds are there to care properly for racehorses when their careers end. We, as an industry, must step up and support a program that is an obligation, not a charity—to support racehorse retraining and retirement."
Whether or not this will ever happen is a huge question mark. I am optimistic, but not holding my breath.