Georgetown, Ky., June 19, 2007 -- As fans watched the filly Rags to Riches capture the grueling Belmont Stakes on June 9--the first time the race has had a distaff win in 102 years--Media Thoroughbred Group and the Thoroughbred retirement facility Old Friends made an extraordinary move of their own.
Lisa Lake-Roedmeier, founder of the Louisville-based racing-partnership company The Media Thoroughbred Group, and Michael Blowen, founder and president of Old Friends, have joined forces to create the first "equine retirement" plan in the history of racing. Under the terms of the deal, all horses partnered by MTG will have a secure future at Old Friends when their racing and/or breeding careers are over. Each partnership in existence today and in the future will have a small quarterly "nest egg" set aside for the twilight years, funds paid directly by the owners (beginning July 1). Currently, MTG has six 2-year-olds and three 3-year-olds in the unique social security program.
"Social Security plans or 401K-type plans have been one of the goals of this organization since the beginning," said Blowen, whose Old Friends, based in Georgetown, Ky., is home to 24 retired Thoroughbreds, including the champions Sunshine Forever, Ogygian and Ruhlmann. "And so this is just really exciting to see it come to pass." Blowen adds that he is in talks with New York-based owner and breeder Dennis Brida for a similar agreement.
"I got into this business to make a difference," said Lake-Roedmeier, of her firm's milestone decision. "I believe that in order for horse racing to continue, we will need to attract new people, and we can do that by being socially responsible and showing that we are not an inhumane industry."
Lake-Roedemeier cited the outpouring of love and sympathy for 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro following his devastating injury as proof that the general public has a heart-felt concern about horses and horse racing.
"The Thoroughbred race horse is a talented, hard-working athlete," she said. "It is important to take care of them not only while they are racing and giving us financial and emotional gratification, but also in their twilight years. I sincerely hope that the '401K' for retired Thoroughbreds is just a way of life 50 years from now."