California Considers New Rescue Efforts

A proposal to establish a formalized, statewide structure for financing the care, placement, and possible retraining of retired racehorses is under consideration by several California Thoroughbred organizations, led by the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, which has pledged some start-up financial support and logistical assistance.

Called the California Care After Racing Equine Security Fund (CARES Fund), the plan will attempt to promote, consolidate, and administrate the fund-raising efforts of various racehorse rescue and retirement organizations already in operation, most notably the United Pegasus Foundation and the California Equine Retirement Foundation.

"I think the time is right for something like this," said Craig Fravel, DMTC executive vice president. "Awareness is heightened, especially with the state ballot measure this fall banning the sale of horses for slaughter. I don't think anyone is really aware of just how many ex-racehorses from California end up falling through the cracks and going off to slaughter. But the issue has been with us for awhile, and this seems like a good solution."

The CARES Fund proposal is an outgrowth of a seminar sponsored in March by Southern California Owner Resources (SCOR), the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association, Thoroughbred Owners of California, and the California Thoroughbred Trainers Association.

"I think this is one of those grassroots issues where we ourselves in the industry have to show we care before anyone else can care," said Anne Palmer, SCOR director and Del Mar horsemen's liaison. "Hopefully, this will be something you could set up in any state--a New York CARES, a Florida CARES.

"What we hope to do is set up a structure that makes it easy for people to contribute," Palmer went on. "There will be a Web site for information and a hotline for people to call who need to place a horse."

Once the fund structure is set, Palmer hopes the various organizations in California racing lend their support through some kind of formal donation schedule. Racetracks generally contribute small amounts to such groups as CERF and United Pegasus, while the TOC has only recently decided to earmark donations.

"The NTRA can do all the marketing they want," Palmer added. "But there are certain raw, dirty secrets racing itself has to solve. A marketing firm can't do it for us. This is the kind of issue everyone can relate to."

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