The Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance Today
Stacie Clark
Stacie Clark, Operations Consultant, Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance

Stuart S. Janney III:

Thank you, Ben, for a terrific report.

I'll just make a couple of quick comments. This is money that is available to us if we work together, and we should be ashamed of ourselves if we don't figure out a way to take advantage of this.

Second, I couldn't be more pleased that Ben presented that report and I didn't have to.

In a very short time, the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance has become one of this industry's most significant success stories. It has unified funding and accreditation efforts and it has drawn the support of a broad base of industry participants.

Stacie Clark has been spearheading the development of the TAA effort, and she's well-suited to do so -- her father owned Thoroughbreds, her mother trained them, and after competing as a jockey for three years, Stacie switched gears and became an Eclipse Award-winning television producer with Saratoga WarHorse.

She has also served as the Thoroughbred retirement program manager for Adena Springs before consulting with the TAA team.

Stacie, thanks for being here to update us on the goals and activities of your organization.

Stacie Clark:

Thank you, Mr. Janney, and good morning, everyone. On behalf of the board of the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, the TAA, I appreciate the opportunity to report on the progress of the TAA since it was formed in 2012.

Aftercare is the retraining and rehoming of Thoroughbred horses after their careers in racing are complete. Let me be candid and clear: Defining what some mean by the humane treatment of animals -- in particular the horse -- is a broad international debate. The goal of the TAA is to address, to the public's satisfaction, what may be asserted as Thoroughbred racing's responsibilities within that broader debate. In doing so, we can protect, indeed promote, our sport. Therefore, the TAA seeks to provide, as much as practically possible, a reasonable opportunity to move our equine athletes onto the next stage of a good and, in most cases, useful life.

For the TAA, the first exit of equines from racing is the focus of our concern to keep our aim narrow enough to have a substantial impact in the benefit of our sport of horse racing. So originally, with the help of The Jockey Club, Breeders' Cup, and Keeneland, who provided us with the seed capital, workspace, and related resources, the TAA was launched in 2012.

First, we do two things. We accredit and we monitor aftercare organizations through a rigorous code of standards that apply best practices for rehabbing, retraining, and re-homing your Thoroughbreds.

Second, we fund those organizations that achieve accreditation to foster a culture for them to want and to expand their own businesses.

Our first application for accreditation was accepted in February of 2013, and our first grants were issued that December. Over the last five years, the TAA has developed the industry standard of accreditation in Thoroughbred aftercare. Here you see our outline. All groups must meet a certain minimum requirement for eligibility, such as they must currently be a 501(c)(3) charity organization or a registered charity in Canada; they must have at least three years of operations as a business in the books; they must house a minimum of five registered Thoroughbreds; and they must have an official euthanasia policy that is consistent with the American Association of Equine Practitioners.

Once these and other eligibility requirements are met, their organization and any horse care facility that they control are subject to a comprehensive and rigorous review of our code of standards as the guide. This review looks closely at the facilities they use to house the horses, as well as their herd health programs, their education programs, their policies for adopting horses, their marketing, and their financial reporting systems. We are the only Thoroughbred organization that does this.

Accreditation is good for just two years provided that the organizations meets the requirements and the code of standards.

How do we check this? We follow up with inspections -- sometimes they're surprise, and sometimes they're not -- with results that we report back to our board.

The system is rigorous, and it is tested over time. It is invaluable in ensuring that our horses are receiving the best care possible and that we are providing the best investment for our contributions that we make to these organizations.

Here's a snapshot of how far we've come in five years. We currently now have 64 organizations across North America. Those 64 organizations are responsible for 180-plus distinct facilities that are on the front line. This affects more than 5,000 of our Thoroughbreds.

We have a funding model initially designed to provide opportunities to contribute to the lifecycle of the horse, from registration, to sales, to racing, to breeding and all other touch points, as well as including veterinary practices, feed, supply stores, transportation services, and other industry-related initiatives.

The staff works with many of you in this room to raise public awareness of the TAA. This has positioned us to be the beneficiary of some of the most notable events, including the Breeders' Cup, Preakness Week, the Pegasus Cup, Rolex, and, most recently, Equestricon, which begins today here in Saratoga Springs. All of these fundraising activities converge to fuel our grants program which provides about $2.5 million a year. To date, we have given over $8.2 million for Thoroughbred aftercare.

Our community of accredited aftercare organizations uses these grants to retrain, rehabilitate, and re-home your Thoroughbred horses into many disciplines, including showing, trail riding, and therapy programs. In addition to retraining Thoroughbreds, several of our organizations support numerous events within their own community, such as horse shows, vocational retraining programs at prisons, children's learning programs, and at-risk youth.

The opportunities for Thoroughbreds beyond the racetrack are as boundless as their popularity. Each year we prepare our annual operating budget that must meet strict financial guidelines designed to keep us doing well at what we love doing. Here's a breakdown of our financials. 75% of the funds raised by the TAA are granted directly to accredited organizations. 10% of that fund afterwards is used for accrediting. So 10% goes right into the program. 10% is used for general and administrative costs, and finally we keep 5% in a reserve fund. In total, we grant back to accredited organizations approximately 9 to 10% of their budgets.

In 2015, for example, 56 organizations at the time that we had accredited had a total operating budget of about $23.5 million. These figures do not fully capture all the in-kind services donated by veterinary care, feed companies, farrier services, transportation, maintenance, and so forth.

To bridge these shortfalls, we are constantly seeking new funding sources and encouraging our own accredited organizations to actively participate in their own fundraising activities. It is a business. And in this business, it takes a lot of energy and creativity to sustain it. This year we'll have several organizations returning for accreditation for the third time, and we expect our final total to approach no more than 65 organizations supported in part by grants by the TAA.

Now, where are we going? I'm excited today to announce a new initiative by the Stronach Group. The Stronach Group has long demonstrated its commitment to aftercare and to horse care. Through its subsidiary, AmTote, and in partnership with the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, the Stronach Group has developed an exciting new way to give back, one that seeks to capitalize on the feeling that only comes when your favorite horse wins.

AmTote has developed the racing industry's first charitable donation-enabled self-serving waging terminal interface. This interface will provide players with winning wagers an opportunity to donate portions of their winnings to the TAA through the wagering terminal. This new terminal offers a convenient, non-intrusive, streamlined, charitable giving experience. After a player has made the choice to donate, they then will receive a standard credit voucher with the remaining balance issued to the player as well as a separate donation receipt that includes the TAA's amount donated and the designated charitable tax donation ID number. It is immediate, and it is easy.

We want to thank Kathy Guillermo from PETA who approached the Stronach Group and the TAA with this idea that we would hope will become another sustainable revenue source for the Thoroughbred Aftercare. Consistent with Kathy's wishes, 100% of the money raised through this exciting new technology developed by AmTote will go directly to Thoroughbred Aftercare.

We also want to reiterate our deep appreciation to AmTote and the Stronach Group for making this idea a reality to give back to the Thoroughbred industry in this very unique manner.

The TAA is thrilled with the potential of this technology to help the Thoroughbreds beyond their racing careers.

Finally, what we're doing forward, recently the TAA has been working with Cornett Advertising on a few things, including a stronger industry message.

You see here our new seal. The seal will send a clear message highlighting the commitment to the Thoroughbred Aftercare and resting upon the fundamentals of the TAA -- accredit, award, and inspect. The Cornett seal will go to those organizations that fund and support the TAA, and we envision a day when it becomes the most coveted seal in our sport.

In closing, I want to reinforce the importance of Thoroughbred Aftercare to the health and well-being of our industry. We need to send out a message that we care about our Thoroughbreds and that care is everyone's obligation.

Before I sign off, I'd like to leave you with this short video. Thank you very much.

Stuart S. Janney III:

Thank you very much, Stacie. It's a very important success story. If we want this sport to thrive, we have to clearly and consistently demonstrate to the general public that our horses are being properly taken care of when their breeding or racing careers have ended. The TAA is helping us do that, and I urge you to support it.

Let me take this opportunity to thank two retiring Jockey Club employees. Bob Curran has headed our communications effort for 16 years. Nancy Kelly has done so many things over 32 years it's very hard for me to describe them or list them. Both have been critical to this conference. We're going to see them in the years ahead, but their full-time efforts will be very much missed. Thank you to both of them.


Before we take a ten-minute intermission, we're going to see a short video promoting the new fan festival, Equestricon, here in Saratoga. Stacie indicated it starts today. So let's have that video and then an intermission.

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