An endowment, a new facility opening, and a special delivery have given the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF) an enthusiastic start to 2001.

The estate of the late Paul Mellon recently announced a $5-million endowment gift to the TRF, the na-tion's leading non-profit organization devoted to the humane retirement and treatment of Thoroughbred racehorses. Mellon was one of the most distinguished and admired horsemen in Thoroughbred racing history.

"The endowment will be a significant help in meeting our present operating expenses for seven large farms and the feeding of more than 350 Thoroughbreds," said John Stewart, TRF president. Under terms of the endowment, the TRF will be able to spend 5% of the market value of the gift per year.

The award validates the TRF's proposals for future growth and encourages the horse industry to join in supporting them. "We hope that the Paul Mellon TRF Endowment Fund will inspire other rescue organizations, as well as the racing industry, to partner with us in our present and planned rescue programs," said Diana Pikulski, TRF Executive Director. "We call on horse lovers everywhere to work with us in this endeavor."

Just prior to the announcement of the endowment was the grand opening of TRF's Florida division in Ocala, set on 230 acres at the Marion County Correctional Institution (MCCI). The operation gives inmates the opportunity to learn vocational and life skills through care of the horses, and eventually will accommodate 50 Thoroughbreds. The program is modeled after TRF programs at Wallkill Correctional Facility in Wallkill, N.Y., Blackburn Correctional Complex in Lexington, Ky., and a similar program at Charles Hickey School in Baltimore, Md., for at-risk juveniles.

The endowment and the opening were punctuated by the arrival of the first foal ever born at a TRF facility. The foal was born at Blackburn in Kentucky. The foaling provided an excellent experience for inmates learning skills needed to work in the horse industry. Usually the Blackburn facility receives only geldings and barren mares with race records.

Founded in 1982, TRF is financially supported by private citizens and the racing industry. The TRF provides lifetime homes for former racehorses at the Blackburn and Marion County Correctional Units, on satellite farms in 11 states, and through private adoptions.

For more information, contact the TRF, PMB 351, 450 Shrewsbury Plaza, Shrewsbury, N.J. 07702-4332, 732/957-0182; www.trfinc.org.

About the Author

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief, received a B.A. in Journalism and Equestrian Studies from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. A Pony Club and 4-H graduate, her background is in eventing, and she is schooling her recently retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Happy, toward a career in that discipline. She also enjoys traveling, photography, cycling, and cooking in her free time.

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