A group has been formed in South Florida to help in the retirement, retraining and placement of horses at the end of their racing careers.
The Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association has formed the group, called TRAC, with the support of Gulfstream Park, Calder Race Course and South Florida jockeys.
TRAC, which stands for Thoroughbred Retirement and Adoptive Care, has strong support from professional jockeys who race in Florida and throughout the United States, as well as industry professionals, businesses and horse lovers.
Horses entering the TRAC programme will receive hands-on care, professional retraining and the chance for a second career.
The program strives to find suitable adopters and homes for every horse.
Many retired thoroughbreds move on to second careers in the show world as hunters, jumpers, eventers or dressage horses. Some achieve success on the polo field, on trails, in therapeutic riding programs or simply as loving companions.
"Our efforts depend on a strong alliance between race tracks, industry officials, horsemen, owners, trainers, jockeys and fans," said Phil Combest, a TRAC advisory committee member, racehorse owner and an official with the benevolent association.
"The racing industry is demonstrating its support through purse contributions and annual donations. But we need everyone's [support] to make sure all our retired horses receive basic care, retraining, and veterinary care," he said.
The program requires potential adopters to be screened and provided with a legal adoption contract. Affordable adoption fees vary per horse. After a horse is placed in an adoptive home, TRAC continues to monitor their progress and care.
Celia Scarlett Fawkes, a racing stable operator and TRAC advisory committee member, said the group's main goal is "to make sure that no Thoroughbred is ever turned away from the program to face an uncertain future or tragic death".