In a press release earlier this month, the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA) gushed over a risible $50,000 donation from The Stronach Group on Pegasus Day at Stronach-owned Gulfstream Park. Risible not only because the day featured two million-dollar-plus races, but, more important, because Stronach is a multi-billion-dollar corporation. $50,000 for aftercare. But back to the TAA and a post long overdue.
In its release, the TAA explained what they are and do: “The TAA accredits, inspects, and awards grants to approved aftercare organizations to retrain, retire, and rehome Thoroughbreds using industry-wide funding. Since 2012, the TAA has granted more than $28.1 million to accredited aftercare organizations and 15,500 Thoroughbreds have been retrained, rehomed, or retired by accredited organizations.”
So, 15,500 Thoroughbreds have been saved by the TAA in 10 years. For context, over that same period, 203,340 Thoroughbreds have been registered (to race) with The Jockey Club, racing’s official recordkeeper. That’s over 20,000 new Thoroughbreds coming into the system each year, all of whom – less the ones who will die at the track – will need “retraining,” “rehoming,” or “retirement” when the industry is done exploiting them. And the TAA boasts of a paltry 15,500 saved? As for the $28 million – again, spread over ten years – more context (from what I’ve previously written):
Regarding the sham of “aftercare”: An average 5-year career, 25-year lifespan, and annual cost-of-care of $5,000 – all conservative numbers – means that in order for the racing industry to guarantee a lifetime safe-landing for each and every member of this year’s “foal crop,” it would have to come up with some $2 billion. That’s 2 billion with a “b.” And again, that’s just for this year’s “crop.” The same would be needed next year, and the year after that, and so on. In short, the American horseracing industry is deliberately creating thousands of horses every year for which it has neither the desire nor the ability to care for post-exploitation. Hence, slaughter.
But it’s even worse. In order to be accredited by, and receive funding from, the TAA, rescues must abide by a “Code of Standards.” Under “Education,” the TAA says:
“How aftercare organizations educate the public, media, regulators, legislators, [et al.] about humane aftercare of Thoroughbreds greatly affects not only the aftercare community itself but the Thoroughbred racing industry as a whole. Whenever possible, accredited organizations should work cooperatively with the Thoroughbred racing community to share media resources and increase public awareness of Thoroughbred aftercare to uphold the image and integrity of the horseracing industry. Accredited organizations shall: Portray all media via press release, internet, articles, or interviews with a positive outlook on Thoroughbred aftercare and the racing industry. Each facility should have one spokesperson who communicates with media with specific talking points concerning the racing industry….”
“accredited organizations should work cooperatively with the racing community”
“uphold the image and integrity of the horseracing industry”
“portray all media…with a positive outlook on aftercare and the racing industry”
“one spokesperson…with specific talking points concerning the racing industry”
In short, we will give you money to save the horses that the racing industry has ground down and thrown away, but only if you sing the praises of – i.e., lie about – that very industry. It’s sick. It’s vile. It’s the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance.
One final thought on the rescues themselves: It is my long-held position that if you are in rescue, no matter the species, your ultimate goal should be, to go out of business. And the only way that can be achieved is through shuttering the industries that make you necessary. Have the courage of your convictions: Reject the TAA and their blood money; speak out, loudly and forcefully, against horseracing.