(Originally published in the December 11, 2010 issue of The
Blood-Horse magazine. Feel free to share your own thoughts and
the bottom of the column.)
Erin Crady is the executive director of TCA and director of marketing and communications for TOBA. TCA is the charitable arm of TOBA.
As the new executive director of Thoroughbred Charities of America, I have witnessed over the past year the direct effect that TCA’s grants have on the charities we support. Many rely on our funding for basic horse care needs, while others may use the grants to build new pastures so they can expand their facilities. One grant applicant in particular requested $750 for a 5-year-old Thoroughbred mare to have a surgery that would allow her to move on to a successful second career. The charity’s grant application was evaluated and approved, the surgery was completed, and the horse is now being trained in dressage.
I have received dozens of thank-you letters from our grantees this year including one from a high school senior in Virginia. She writes that the recent adoption of her off-the-track Thoroughbred has inspired her to enroll in college as a pre-veterinary student and she hopes one day to start her own rescue for horses. “I never knew one retired racehorse could make such a difference in my life,” she wrote.
TCA got its start 21 years ago when a small group of Thoroughbred owners including Herb and Ellen Moelis and the late Allaire duPont joined together with the objective of raising money to benefit former racehorses. To meet this goal, a charity auction was planned at Candyland Farm near Middletown, Del. Basing the event upon the notion of horses helping horses, organizers offered a unique auction item—the stallion season. A few seasons to regional stallions were auctioned; $15,000 was raised and donated to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.
Enthused by the success of the inaugural and subsequent season auctions, the group officially formed to become Thoroughbred Charities of America, and the event became known as the annual TCA Stallion Season Auction.
TCA was formed to be unlike any other Thoroughbred charity. The mission, to provide a better life for Thoroughbreds both during and after their racing careers by supporting rescue, retirement, and research and by helping the people who work with them, may be similar to the mission statements of other organizations. However, TCA differs in one important element: One donation to TCA benefits many different organizations.
Each year TCA distributes grants to non-profit organizations within four categories: rescue and retirement; education and backstretch; research; and therapeutic riding facilities that use Thoroughbreds in their programs. In order to be considered for a grant, charities must submit a detailed grant application. Facilities with equines must include a statement submitted by a licensed veterinarian attesting to the condition of the charity’s horses, their worming and vaccination programs, the facility conditions, and much more. Grant applicants are also required to submit their most recent Form 990 and a copy of their non-profit status.
A committee of TCA board members individually evaluates grant applications. TCA is committed to acting as a good steward of the funds donated to us and, in turn, the funds distributed as grants.
This year TCA awarded $860,672 in grants to 81 organizations. Approximately 52% of grants were allocated to the rescue and retirement category; 33% were distributed to backstretch and education organizations; 9% to research; and 6% to therapeutic riding facilities. Over the past two decades TCA has distributed more than $17 million to more than 200 Thoroughbred-related charities.
TCA’s annual grants would not be possible without the annual charity auction that began 21 years ago at Candyland Farm. Next month TCA will celebrate its 21st annual Stallion Season Auction. The four-day auction will begin with a telephone auction Jan. 5 and culminate with a live select stallion season auction Jan. 8 at the Keeneland Entertainment Center in Lexington. Hundreds of seasons will be sold in the telephone auction and 25-30 seasons to top stallions will be auctioned at the live auction. For those who are not Thoroughbred owners or breeders but are interested in helping TCA, you are invited to bid on auction items such as a Vespa scooter, the opportunity to be a ball boy or ball girl at a University of Kentucky basketball game during the 2011 season, a vacation home at Palmetto Bluff resort in South Carolina, a Triple Crown ticket package, and more.
As the annual season auction has become TCA’s largest fundraiser, the success of the auction directly impacts the amount of grants that TCA can distribute to charities each year. These charities need TCA, and TCA needs you.
Paramount to the success of the Stallion Season Auction is the generosity of our season donors and purchasers, sponsors, and advertisers. We extend our deepest gratitude for your past and future support.
Telephone Auction: Jan 5—Jan. 7, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
For a complete list of seasons or to register to bid
in the telephone auction, visit www.tca.org
Select Stallion Season Auction: Jan. 8, 6:30 p.m. Keeneland Entertainment Center
To purchase tickets to the Select Stallion Season Auction, call (859) 276-4989.