• It's time to work together on Thoroughbred after care

    POSTED Jul 22, 2013
    Count me as one of those who think something (more) should be done about Thoroughbred racehorse retirement but as a horseplayer doesn't want to be the (only) one to pay for it.

    The death of Grade 1 winner Monzante in a bottom-level claiming race on Saturday night (July 20) at Evangeline Downs underscores an issue not with claiming races but with ensuring that only horses of sound mind and body compete.

    I do not have an issue with Grade 1 winners competing in lower-level races, including the lowest level, but a class drop is among the potential warning signs track officials and horsemen should pay attention. Couple Monzante's rapid descent with a vet scratch on June 8 and no published workouts for seven weeks leading up to his nine-year-old debut off a eight-month layoff, and it's clear the system we failed him--not because he's a Grade 1 winner who earned $583,949 but because he's one of tens of thousands of Thoroughbreds born every year who contribute to our livelihood and happiness.

    The industry needs to get more involved. Many clamor for a central regulatory body, and while that will never happen to administer the sport, it can happen on this issue.

    Such regulation by the industry on a national level should not endeavor to tell owners what to do with their horses or racetracks how to conduct their business but rather assist in making it economically more practical to retire a Thoroughbred from racing than have it participate if unsound.

    To be fair, many industry stakeholders already do contribute to this mission. The Jockey Club puts $25 of each fee toward Thoroughbred aftercare, many stallion farms donate seasons to charity auctions, and several racetracks have set up after care programs on their own dime. But all those resources acting separately make it tougher to help Monzante or the countless Thoroughbreds sent to slaughter from racetracks and farms across the country.

    For once, let's work together.
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