Make the Commitment: A Thoroughbred Constitution

February 15, 2023

Every horse should be a “Lava Man.” Pennsylvania Derby contender Hot Rod Charlie (L) with exercise rider Johnny Garcia and Lava Man with Assistant Trainer to Doug O’Neill, Sabas Rivera jog on the track at Parx Sept. 24, 2021. (Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO)

Op./Ed. By Maribeth Kalinich

Recently, the Retired Racehorse Project proposed this question on Twitter: “Let’s chat: what steps can the racing industry take, big or small, to make [Thoroughbred] aftercare a normal part of the conversation around horse racing?”

To me the answer is simple: Make the commitment. Create a Thoroughbred Constitution. You breed it, you own it, you honor it. 

Every owner in that horse’s life must swear to the “Thoroughbred Constitution” like an elected official, judge, peace officer … If they break their oath, they are out of the business. Pure and simple. We have been putting up with this for far too long. It goes with the Jockey Club registration.

I, ______________________, do solemnly swear, as a member of the horse breeding and racing community, to offer care, food, shelter, medical care, companionship and kindness to the [bay filly by – o/o] born this day, [date].

It starts with the breeder and carries through to each owner. Do we not make a lifetime commitment to our pets? We need make a lifetime commitment to our horses.

These animals are our children. We purposefully bring them into the world for profit and pleasure. We have an honor and duty to care for them like they are our children.

Racetracks are state subsidized with casino money. Aftercare should be as well, and every state should not only have aftercare accounts and placement programs but FARMS. Expensive? You bet. If they can give hundreds of millions to the RACEtracks where these RACEhorses work …

Lava Man retired to Old Friends after leading Hot Rod Charlie to the gate for the 2022 Breeders’ Cup Classic. (Photo by Mary Greene courtesy of Old Friends)

What happens to the account if the permanent owners don’t need it? It rolls over into the farm for education and care. 

It’s not rocket science and once in place it will become routine. This brings more young people into the world of horses/racing & gives them lifetime skills.

If they are account managers, they can learn bookkeeping. They can go into veterinary science. Or breeding or anything because working around horses builds confidence and a respect for animals and self.

Come on, horseracing, take the Oath. Make the commitment. 

Contributing Authors

MariBeth Kalinich, Senior Editor, Past the Wire

Maribeth Kalinich, Senior Editor, Graphic Designer

Maribeth Kalinich grew up in a family with a love for horses, a passion for Thoroughbred horse racing and a taste for playing the ponies....

View Maribeth Kalinich, Senior Editor, Graphic Designer

@jonathanstettin @bbopjz Fantastic writing, thoroughly enjoyable read.

Jon Bercher (@JBercher) View testimonials