Bid to help retired horses on track

January 28, 1994|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

What does it cost to care for 65 retired racehorses?

Over $100,000 a year and lots of donated time from innumerable volunteers.

Tomorrow night a ton of horse feed, a lock of hair from the stallion Nureyev, tickets to the Preakness, breeding seasons to about 90 stallions, numerous works of art, including limited-edition bronze sculptures and oil paintings, and other donated items will be auctioned to help support these animals.

The event is one of two major fund-raisers held each year by the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, a non-profit organization that cares for the retired horses in two locations. The main facility is a prison farm in Walkill, N.Y., where about 40 animals are used in a therapeutic program for the inmates. A secondary program called Greener Pastures was started locally about four years ago. There are 25 horses being housed at three satellite farms in Maryland and Delaware until a permanent home, similar to the therapeutic facility in New York, can be found.

In New York, the chief fund-raiser is the Saratoga Dog Show, a highlight of the Saratoga meet.

In Maryland and Delaware, the major revenue source is tomorrow night's auction, with Herb and Ellen Moelis as hosts at their Candy Land Farm in Middletown, Del.

"A lot of people feel it's the industry's responsibility to do what we can to take care of these horses," Herb Moelis said. "On my farm, one of the three TRF horses boarded here is named Sir Prize Birthday. He made 210 career starts. He is a gelding and when it came time for him to retire, he wasn't worth anything. His owner didn't have a farm and probably would have ended up selling him for meat. He's just a great old horse and deserves this kind of happy retirement."

The Foundation pays three farm owners $4.50 a day to take care of each horse. In addition to Moelis, a New York attorney and prominent thoroughbred owner, the animals also are housed at two Cecil County sites -- John Hession's Ballyduff Farm in Chesapeake City and at The Equine Gambit, operated in Warwick by veterinarian Larry Cushing and his wife, Sue.

Among the retired horses are Three Engines, Steel Drum, Chancellor Forbes and Young Jedi.

Monique Koehler, president of the TRF, said she hopes an agreement with the Charles Hickey School in Cub Hill will be finalized soon so that many of the horses can be kept there. "The idea is for the kids to work with our horses, not only to gain some practical skills, but also to learn responsibility and how to care for other living creatures. We'd like to put up a run-in shed and start off with five to 10 horses," Koehler said. Negotiations with the school for troubled youths have taken time, she said, because Hickey has undergone several management changes.

"But if we can get the kids to work with these horses in the same kind of program that has been so successful at Walkill, then it will be worth the wait," Koehler said.

Racetrack train service

The MARC train system will start daily service to and from Camden Station in Baltimore and Laurel Race Course Monday.

The rail system is adding the Laurel stop at a service platform located in the Howard County Parking Lot across from the track's Sports Palace.

For more information, call MARC at (800) 325-RAIL.

Miscellaneous

A meeting originally scheduled for today between thoroughbred and harness-industry representatives to re-negotiate financial arrangements of the state's inter-track wagering program has been rescheduled for Feb. 7.

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