TAA(  At its meeting last week, the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (MTHA) agreed to the outlines of a plan to implement the retirement portion of its “Purse Protection and Retirement Program.”

The program’s goals: to focus the funding on Maryland-based facilities serving Maryland horsemen and horses while ensuring high standards of accountability.  And the result: a partnership with the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance.

The Purse Protection and Retirement Program, funded by horsemen through purse account deductions, has generated an estimated $30,000 for equine retirement, according to the MTHA.

According to MTHA Executive Secretary David Richardson, the group will provide half the funds generated in 2013 to the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance for that group to disseminate to facilities which it has accredited in Maryland.  The MTHA itself will disseminate the remaining 50 percent of funds; over time, Richardson said, if the program works as his organization hopes, the TAA will handle substantially all of the retirement funds.

Beginning with the Pimlico meet in April, most owners have seen a $10 deduction from their purse earnings, with $6 earmarked for equine retirement and $4 to the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Political Action Committee (PAC).  To offset the deduction, the starter bonus — that amount paid to horses that finish worse than sixth and thus do not share in purse earnings — was increased by $10.  The program is voluntary, and according to Richardson, only a handful of owners have opted out of participating.

The TAA, funded initially by Breeders’ Cup, Ltd., The Jockey Club, and Keeneland Association, acts as both an accrediting body and a fundraising mechanism for aftercare facilities caring for post-career Thoroughbreds.

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