Social Security – For Thoroughbreds

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thoroughbred horse social security


I’m not going to get into politics of human social security; politics bore me. But, I think, most Americans can agree that the Social Security System is a mess and it has been since before the first check was sent out in 1937.

Yet, this was the description of a proposed plan for the long term care of Thoroughbred race horses; a “Social Security” program for horses. TB SS was initially proposed a number of years ago to The Jockey Club by the Thoroughbred Charities of America though then scoffed at because of strong resistance to owners along with an inability to distribute funds.

The new TB SS proposal, again by the Thoroughbred Charities of America, suggests adding a $50 “fee” when registering foals that would go towards providing care for the life of that horse. Registering a Thoroughbred with The Jockey Club now costs $200, and the average U.S. Thoroughbred makes 6.3 starts in their career. This means that $50 has to stretch a long way after those measly 6 or so races.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to hear that SOMEONE is proposing SOMETHING to help secure the long term care of these overbred, overused, and underserved athletes. But, I don’t see a Social Security system for the horse with a one time $50 pay-in being the answer.

Thoroughbred racing has become too seedy and way too available for the low(er) income owner, trainer, and breeder. This sport needs to be more elite. I for one never like to oust the poor or even the middle class within equestrian sports, but horse racing isn’t an equestrian sport. TB racing is only a “sport” for those looking to make it rich, get a name, and of course breed, own, or train the next Kentucky Derby winner. It is not a sport that uses logic, forethought, or reality in many cases.

Thoroughbred racing isn’t, generally, for the horse lover looking for a chance to fulfill a dream, create a bond, or hone some hidden talent. It’s a gambling industry where the welfare of the horse, if important, is only important for a very short time. Then the horse becomes disposable AND that is especially true when ANYONE can breed a Thoroughbred.

For the possibility of a TB SS program to work, a larger fee must be assessed. A higher fee should, and would, be designed to CURTAIL LOW-END BREEDING. And YES, this would stop some over-breeding that has contributed to the decline of the Thoroughbred breed; please tell me how would that be bad?

Since I was told once limiting the number of Thoroughbreds bred would be a problem because it’s essentially controlling what someone does with their “property”, I should be able to assume that limiting the number of Thoroughbreds The Jockey Club will register would not encroach on anyone’s rights. However, it would limit the amount of money coming into The Jockey Club, and we know they need all the money they can get!

So, let’s come up with a better solution. NOT horse Social Security (though interesting but already shown to be ineffective, detrimental to the governing body, and detrimental to each contributor).

For a “save the TB” program, there needs to be a registration tax. That doesn’t mean the money goes into The Jockey Clubs pocket, they already have enough.

Instead, the tax could should sustain a reputable outside agency clearly looking at the horses’ best interests to hold onto funds, keep track of horses included, and follow these horses throughout their lives.

There isn’t a quick fix for lifetime Thoroughbred care; a protocol needs to be well planned. But, not only should a solution benefit the Thoroughbred’s long term care; the plan should also call for executing better breeding practices…wait for it…to eventually strengthen the American Thoroughbred breed.

Okay, I know. Now I’m just talking crazy! But, eventually, maybe a year from now, The Bloodhorse or The Thoroughbred Times will come out with a story detailing a need for a program just like that. Luckily, it will be breaking news, with in-depth, never before covered information.

Yet, nothing will actually come of it because the Thoroughbred industry doesn’t want anything to come of it. The Thoroughbred industry likes to sound good, but putting their talk into action is a whole different story.

One we are yet to read.