The Pony-Up Program is a new Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF) fundraising initiative designed to spread the financial responsibilities of caring for retired racehorses across the training community. After all, if you’re going to earn your living with race horses, shouldn’t you pony-up some money for their retirement? This particular program taxes horsemen only when they have reaped the benefits of a racetrack win.
Kiaran McLaughlin, Gary Contessa and John Kimmel, three of New York racing’s top trainers, are the latest horsemen to sign up for the TRF’S Pony-Up Program. The three will each donate a set amount to the foundation each time one of the horses they train wins a race. The amount of the donation is left up to each individual trainer, but $50 is the average donation per win.
“I think it’s the responsibility of everyone in the industry to do their part to help retired racehorses,” says trainer John Kimmel, a longtime TRF supporter. “I would encourage as many trainers as possible to donate a nominal per-win fee; first, you’re only taxed when you’re successful and second, by spreading the burden around, no one person ends up paying an undue share. I’m on board.”
McLaughlin and Contessa are also happy to pitch in.
“I think you have to support retired horses,” says McLaughlin, another trainer who has often lent his support to the TRF during his training career. “They are the loves of our lives and they are the backbone of the business we are in. I think it is important to help out these horses when their careers are over. I am pleased to be involved with this program.”
Says Contessa: “I’m doing this because I think it is a great idea, a great program and the right thing to do. I firmly believe the industry needs to do everything it can to care for retired racehorses. I have several that I care for on my own farm in upstate New York. If you don’t make sure they have a proper retirement, they wind up in the wrong place.”