This Saturday, millions of eyes will be on Churchill Downs for the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby. During this hallowed and dignified American event, seersucker-clad gentlemen and women trying to out-hat each other will sip mint juleps while impossibly fast thoroughbreds run their hearts out. Since these noble beasts provide us with amusement — and hopefully, hefty payouts — it’s only right that we afford them a measure of dignity once the race is finished.
Most Thoroughbreds retire between the ages of 2 and 10, yet their lifespans typically extend between 25 and 30 years. What is a champion Thoroughbred to do with the rest of its life? As it turns out, the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA) loves that question. A 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, the TAA is dedicated to helping retired racehorses live happy, peaceful lives.
There are hundreds of organizations that claim to care for retired Thoroughbreds. Some, as you might imagine, are better than others. The Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance has developed a system of inspecting, accrediting, and funding aftercare organizations to ensure that they observe high standards of care. The organizations that are accredited with the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance are prepared to retire, retrain, and/or re-home racehorses of all skill levels.
One question you may be asking is, “Who accredits the accreditors?” Well, the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance has received a hooves-up from the American Humane Association and the American Association of Equine Practitioners. It’s also worth noting that the TAA is supported by breeders, owners, trainers, racing fans, and others involved with the horse racing industry.
As you watch those 20 beautiful beasts gallop around Churchill Downs on Saturday (early Vegas predictions are favoring Irish War Cry and Gunnevera), think about what their lives will be like after the race season is over. If you receive a payout from a bet, consider donating a portion of it to the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance.
Of course, there are other ways to donate — for instance, you could order a large pizza and garlic knots from Papa John’s and use the promo code “TAA12” to donate $1 to the TAA (only at participating locations in Louisville and Lexington, Kentucky, and only through May 7th). Last year, Papa Johns raised $24,000 with that code. If you’re trying to watch your figure, you might shop online at Amazon using AmazonSmile, then select the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance as your charitable organization of choice.
However you choose to donate, you can sip your mint julep with the knowledge that you’ve helped a noble, hard working Thoroughbred get some well-deserved rest.
Updated April 28, 2017 by Elizabeth Dahl