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New York Trainers "Pony-Up" To Help TRF

Kiaran McLaughlin, Gary Contessa and John Kimmel, three of New York racing’s top trainers, are the latest horsemen to sign up for the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation’s Pony-Up Program. The three will each donate a set amount to the foundation each time one of the horses they train wins a race.

The Pony-Up Program is a new TRF fundraising initiative designed to spread the financial responsibilities of caring for retired racehorses across the training community, while taxing horsemen only when they have reaped the benefits of a win.

By agreeing to take part in the program, McLaughlin, Contessa and Kimmel have joined trainers Todd Pletcher, Graham Motion, William Entenmann, Jimmy Jerkens, Michael Dickinson, Lisa Lewis, Chuck Simon and Ken McPeek as participants. The amount of the donations is left up to each individual trainer. The average donation per win is $50.

I think it's the responsibility of everyone in the industry to do their part to help retired racehorses," said trainer John Kimmel, a longtime TRF supporter. "I would encourage as many trainers as possible to donate a nominal per-win fee; first, you're only taxed when you're successful, and second, by spreading the burden around, no one person ends up paying an undue share. I'm on board."

McLaughlin and Contessa were also happy to pitch in.

“I think you have to support retired horses,” said McLaughlin, another trainer who has often lent his support to the TRF during his training career. “They are the loves of our lives and they are the backbone of the business we are in. I think it is important to help out these horses when their careers are over. I am pleased to be involved with this program.”

Said Contessa: “I’m doing this because I think it is a great idea, a great program and the right thing to do. I firmly believe the industry needs to do everything it can to care for retired racehorses. I have several I care for on my own farm in upstate New York. If you don’t make sure they have a proper retirement, they wind up in the wrong place.”

In 2006, Contessa, McLaughlin and Kimmel combined to win 290 races. McLaughlin, a former assistant to Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, trained 2006 Horse of the Year Invasor and Belmont Stakes winner Jazil. Contessa has won numerous training titles on the New York circuit and is currently the leading trainer in New York in 2007 in number of wins. Kimmel, who is also a veterinarian, enjoyed another outstanding year in 2007, winning such major races as the Woodward and the Clark Handicap.”

The TRF will continue to reach out to more trainers to enlist them in a program that promises to be an important fundraising initiative.

“There are so many caring people in this industry who love horses and understand that we must care for them upon their retirements,” said TRF Executive Director. “This is an excellent way to involve them and raise money. One of the many good things about the program is that a trainer only has to contribute after a win, an occasion when many are more than happy to share in their good fortune.”

Trainers interested in signing up for the program should contact the TRF’s Saratoga Springs office at 518-226-0028.

Founded in 1982, the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation is a nonprofit organization that provides lifetime retirement for Thoroughbreds at farms and satellite facilities spread across the U.S. With the TRF increasing its efforts to save as many retirees as possible from an uncertain future, the group’s horse population has more than doubled over the last three years and now includes more than 1,300 horses. The TRF is wholly dependant on outside donations.


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