Life After Racing: From Stud to Slaughter

Posted by By at 11 May, at 00 : 09 AM Print

For a horse like Orb, the sculpted colt that won the
Kentucky Derby last week, the future holds plenty of promise. Besides
earning the celebrity that comes with a high-profile victory, Orb is
likely to attract the attention of breeders who would keep him healthy
and occupied for the next 20 years.

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But the vast majority of horses
competing on North American racetracks—more  than 61,000 horses last
year—will spend their careers running in lower-level races, far from the
public eye. Most will never see the sort of breeding bids that draw
their more successful counterparts into early retirement, so they’ll
race for as long as they can. When their bodies wear and winnings
diminish, they’ll finally leave the track and head toward a future
that’s often uncertain and sometimes abridged.
Here are some of the places, from the stud farm to the slaughterhouse, a retired racehorse may land:

As mentioned, top-tiered horses can usually count on a future breeding career.

“There is so much more money to be
made in the stud if you’re successful than you could ever dream of
making compared to racing,” says David Switzer, the executive director
of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association. The same is true for fillies,
he said. “If you have a nice female that has won major stakes races and
earned some money, it could be beneficial to retire the mare and breed
her toward the stallions.”

In some cases, the payout an owner receives from a breeder can top 1 day ago – estrace no prescription . purchase estrace santa fe , tribulus extract , estrace fedex cod buy estrace online saturday delivery. recommended  the horse’s career earnings.

Last year, for example, Derby and
Preakness winner I’ll Have Another, who earned about $2.7 million in his
career, sold for $10 million to a Japanese breeder. It was an
exceptional price, but quite a typical finish to a talented racehorse’s

Smarty Jones, the winner of the Derby
and  Preakness in 2004, has sired 418 foals in seven years. Of those,
381 are  racing age, and 192 have won races – for a total of just over
$20  million in winnings. His stud fee is $7,500 per session. His latest
foal  was born just last month in Buckingham, Penn.

Most elite racehorses end up as
studs. Consider the fate of the horses that ran in the 2010 Preakness
Stakes: Those horses are now 6 years old, which means that by this
point, most of them would have retired. Of the dozen that started in
that race, seven are currently in breeding careers. One was euthanized
after an injury; two geldings, which cannot breed, raced as recently as
last year; one horse could not be accounted for, and one outlier, a colt
named Schoolyard Dreams, continues to compete.


Many industry groups encourage owners to have their horses
transition to a new career when their sprinting days are over. While
racehorses tend to retire by the time they’re 6 or 7, horses trained in
dressage, therapy or jumping can continue to work—and have value—well
into their teens.

Dot Morgan, the executive director
of New Vocations, which runs the largest racehorse adoption program in
the country, says that thoroughbreds are particularly versatile.

“They can be taught to cut cows,
barrel race, but what they’re usually used for if they’re sound and pain
free, is to jump,” Morgan said. “They love to jump…Horses that are
coming to us that have never seen a jump before, instead of being
spooked, they head right for them.”

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The agency, one of dozens throughout
the country that accepts, retrains and finds new homes for unwanted
horses, has found new purposes and owners for nearly 5,000
ex-racehorses. Most, she points out, did not arrive at one of the buy cialis online from an official certified pharmacy, overnight shipping,
agency’s facilities at the end of a glamorous racing career.

“These are your mares and geldings
racing on the B-tracks … and the ones that aren’t owned by the
well-heeled owners that can afford to retire them to their farms,” she
said. But every now and then a thoroughbred with impressive credentials
will turn up in need of some help.

In 2012, WinStar Farms, the former
owner of a Kentucky Derby, got word that the horse was competing
in low-end claiming races in Arizona and California. Advice, who placed
13th in the 2009 Kentucky Derby, was a gelding and therefore unable to
be sold to a breeder after the Derby. Instead, Advice was sold to a new
owner who raced him for three more years. After learning the horse’s
fate, the former owner claimed the horse back and sent it over to New
Vocations. There, Advice wound up training as a hunter/jumper, and was
eventually adopted by somebody in Michigan, where the horse now lives.


While domestic “kill markets” dried up when the last U.S.
slaughterhouses closed in 2007, the lure of overseas slaughter money—not
to mention the financial burden of maintaining a horse that’s no longer
profitable—still sends tens of thousands of horses to their death in
foreign facilities each year. According to data compiled by the ASPCA,
more than 166,000 American horses were sent to Canada and Mexico for
slaughter last year.

“It is well-documented that many
racehorses end up at slaughter auctions within a week of their last
race, despite the fact that many tracks across the country have policies.

Grim as that is, many more horses
were shipped off to slaughter when U.S. facilities were still producing
horsemeat for human consumption. In 1990, when numbers peaked, more than
410,000 American horses met their end in a slaughterhouse.


Even second careers have their limits. Horses can live into
their late 20s and even those that are able to smoothly transition into
second careers will not be able to keep them forever. By the time they
enter their late teens, it’s unlikely that they’ll continue to be used
in equestrian events like hunting and jumping and may no longer be
useful to breeders. Even younger horses can become sick or injured and
need to permanantely retire.

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The Unwanted Horse Coalition, an
alliance of organizations dedicated to eliminating the problem of
unwanted and abandoned horses, does not have an exact figure to measure
the scope of the problem. But the group notes the annual slaughter
numbers and says that there are not enough placement opportunities,
volunteers or funding for all the unwanted horses in the country.

The Coalition lists a number or
farms, facilities and organizations that accept and care for abandoned
horses. And for the occasion when no better option is available, it
lists an estimated price for euthanasia:  $66, not including disposal
(burial, rendering or incineration). Those fees, according to the
American Association of Equine Practitioner’s National Fee and Market
Study released in 2001, can range from $75 to $250 for rendering and up
to $2,000 for incineration.


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