Standing Ovation by Ovation Riding

Every Friday, Horse Nation teams up with Ovation Riding to spotlight individuals or organizations doing good work in the horse world. Today, we’re recognizing the connections of Justify.

Justify and connections in the Preakness winner’s circle. Wikimedia Commons/Maryland GovPics/CC

During high-profile races, such as the Breeders’ Cup or the Triple Crown classics, the conversation among horse lovers inevitably turns to aftercare — as well it should. Thousands of Thoroughbreds are bred each year with high hopes of becoming racing’s next superstar, but only a percentage of those ever make it to their first start, and many of those horses will not have potential as breeding stock. Where do the retiring racehorses go, or those who never made it to the track in the first place?

The tide is turning in the racing world, with aftercare becoming forefront in the minds of breeders and horsemen; the racetracks themselves are starting to come on board with a zero-tolerance policy of horses going to slaughter, encouraging placement of retiring horses with the myriad of organizations set up to help transition horses to second careers. There is still much work to be done, but the aftercare conversation is certainly changing.

That’s why we’re recognizing the connections of Justify today, one day before his potentially historic Belmont Stakes and his bid to become the 13th Triple Crown winner: the five partnerships that own the horse (WinStar Farm, China Horse Club, Starlight Racing, SF Bloodstock and Head of Plains LLC), trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Mike Smith have all pledged to donate a percentage of earnings from the Belmont Stakes to New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program, the largest racehorse adoption charity in the United States.

These parties have all supported New Vocations’ Breeders’ Cup Pledge in past, which allows connections to similarly pledge a portion of their earnings to the charity in a creative fundraiser that also keeps the concept of aftercare in the forefront on major race days. This decision to again acknowledge the important role of aftercare through the most high-profile horse in the country helps demonstrate the industry’s growing commitment to making sure every horse has a home when his days at the track are over.

To learn more about New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program, its six retraining and placement facilities on the East Coast and its thousands of horses placed since the program’s inception, please visit the organization’s website.

Many thanks thanks to Ovation Riding for their support of both Horse Nation and individuals and organizations that are doing good work in the horse world. If you know someone who deserves a Standing Ovation, we would love to recognize them in a future post. Email the name of the person or organization along with a message about the good work they do to [email protected]. Photos/videos are always welcome, and include a link to their website if applicable.

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