In order to enhance its mission of helping as many retiring racehorses as possible, New Vocations Racehorse Adoption program is launching a $2 million capital campaign to build a premier Thoroughbred retraining facility on the historic Mereworth Farm in Lexington, Kentucky.

The program currently takes in more than 450 horses a year. Once complete, the new facility, which will include two 15-stall barns, an indoor arena, an outdoor arena, an office, and multiple pastures and paddocks, will double the program's Lexington capacity.

The collaboration between New Vocations and the Susan S. Donaldson Foundation’s Mereworth Farm was announced in April. The initial phase of the relationship includes use of a 20-stall barn along with multiple paddocks to house horses in need of rehabilitation prior to entering New Vocations’ retraining program.

In addition to the rehabilitation barn, the foundation is also providing the program a free, long-term lease of 85 acres, on which New Vocations will build a retraining facility. The foundation is also stepping up to help with ongoing program expenses at the new facility by providing all the grain for the New Vocations’ horses, covering water costs and mowing all green spaces. When combined with the remainder of Mereworth Farm, it will be the largest rehabilitation, retraining, rehoming and retirement facility in the country.

“Susan Donaldson directed that her family's Mereworth Farm would become a sanctuary for unwanted horses,” said Elizabeth Hughes, president of the Susan S. Donaldson Foundation. “In order to maximize the number of horses that can be helped, however, any rescue or retirement operation must include a program to repurpose those horses that are fit for another career.

“The foundation saw no reason to reinvent the wheel at Mereworth Farm; we quickly determined that the best way to help the most horses was to combine our efforts with those of an organization that has proven it can retrain and rehome horses efficiently,” she continued. “New Vocations is the gold standard, and the Susan S. Donaldson Foundation is proud to welcome the program to Mereworth Farm and to provide support to further its operations.”

To date, $750,000 has been raised from early pledges from Elise Durbin, Fasig-Tipton, Jim and Therese Faulconbridge, and Mike Repole. New Vocations will be working diligently over the next year to raise the remaining funds needed to complete the project by seeking support through a variety of naming and giving options.

"Fasig-Tipton is a staunch supporter of retraining and aftercare efforts for retired Thoroughbreds,” said Boyd Browning, Fasig-Tipton president and CEO. ”The establishment of a facility of this type fulfills the vision John Hettinger had nearly 15 years ago with the creation of Blue Horse Charities. We are delighted to be a part of this exciting initiative.”

Repole, a prominent Thoroughbred owner, added, "Through their rehabbing and retraining program, New Vocations offers one of the best solutions to the ever-growing number of horses in need of aftercare. Thoroughbred retirement and aftercare is a very important matter to me and many other people in the industry. This issue needs to become an important matter for everyone involved in the Thoroughbred industry. My family and I are excited to support this capital campaign that will help more horses every year.”

The public can follow the campaign’s progress, make a donation, and learn more about the naming and giving opportunities by visiting the campaign’s website. A ground breaking ceremony is being planned for June, with further details to follow.

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