NYTHA, NYRA launch ‘Empire State Success Story’ Award

Posted: June 21, 2018

The New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and the New York Racing Association, committed to efforts to ensure safe and healthy Thoroughbred retirement, have teamed up to announce a new award created to highlight the success of retired racehorses in second careers.

The $5,000 Empire State Success Story Award will go to the top-placed New York-bred at the Retired Racehorse Project’s 2018 Thoroughbred Makeover, presented by Thoroughbred Charities of America. The event takes place Oct. 4-7 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky.

The Makeover is a training competition open to professionals, amateurs and juniors that demonstrates the adaptability of the Thoroughbred racehorse. Last year, 41 New York-breds competed in the event, showcasing their talents as eventers, working ranch horses, field hunters, show hunters and jumpers, trail horses, polo ponies, dressage performers and barrel racers.

“Racehorses are first and foremost athletes, and they excel at second careers,” said Rick Schosberg, Chair of the NYTHA Aftercare Committee. “It is truly amazing how versatile they are. We want to put the spotlight on our New York-breds at the Makeover and show everyone that our horses have long and fruitful lives after they leave the track.

“We are dedicated to taking care of our horses, whether they bankrolled a million dollars or never earned a dime. That is our duty, as horsemen.”

The Empire State Success Story is just the latest in initiatives that focus on doing right by New York’s racehorses. In 2012, NYTHA partnered with the New York Thoroughbred Breeders Inc. to create the TAKE2 Program, which promotes second careers as hunters and jumpers, with prize money and awards offered in Thoroughbred-only divisions at more than 350 horse shows nationwide. NYTB will co-sponsor the Empire State Success Story.

“The Thoroughbred Makeover is yet another prime example of our industry establishing second careers for our horses,” NYTB Executive Director Jeff Cannizzo said. “They never stopping giving to us, and I’m glad to say we strive to give back to them with programs like this. It’s wonderful to see so many New York-breds being retrained for these various other disciplines after racing with the support from our industry.”

In 2013, NYTHA’s TAKE THE LEAD Thoroughbred Retirement Program was launched, and now has placed more than 400 horses retiring from the NYRA tracks with Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance-accredited organizations. New York’s owners donate $5 per start to the TAA, and NYRA matches that donation every year.

In all, NYTHA contributed more than $488,000 to support Thoroughbred aftercare last year.

“The horses give us their all on the track, and we are obligated to give it our all when it is time for them to retire from racing,” NYTHA Executive Director Andy Belfiore said. “For New York’s horsemen and women, aftercare is not an afterthought.”

(Photo courtesy of NYTHA)