Jockey Club Breeder Check-off Donations, 2011

In 2008, the Jockey Club announced a check-off program that would enable breeders and owners to contribute money towards Thoroughbred retirement with each horse that they registered. The program began on January 1, 2009.

The registration form offers owner and breeders the opportunity to donate $25, $50, $75, $100 or an amount of their choice; the funds are distributed to Thoroughbred Charities of America and the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.  The Jockey Club provides $200,000 in addition to the donations, its contribution coming from its profit-making subsidiaries.

A little less than a year ago, I wrote about the program for Thoroughbred Times, detailing the amount of money raised and number of horses registered, talking to breeders about why they do and don’t contribute to the program.

One reason offered for not donating was that the check-off didn’t carry a tax deduction, which donors would receive if they donated on their own.  Last July, the Jockey Club announced that future contributions would be eligible as a tax deduction.

According to numbers provided by the Jockey Club, in 2009, approximately $52,000 was donated by breeders registering 32,606 horses, which works out to $1.59 a horse.  If each of those horses had been accompanied by a $25 donation, the contribution would have totaled $815,150.

In 2010, the registration contributions totaled approximately $43,000 for 30,669 horses, or $1.40 per registration. $25 per horse would have brought in $766,725.

In 2011, the number of certificates of foal registration issued was 27,309; those registrations raised $45,442 ($1.66/registration).  $25 per registration would have equaled $682,725.

In releasing the 2011 numbers, the Jockey Club noted that registration is an open-ended process–breeders and owners can register a horse of any age at any time— so it’s possible that there may have been instances over the three years of the program in which the owner/breeder started the registration process before the check-off option was available.

The contribution numbers on their face are dismaying, certainly, and it’s worth pointing out that a number of breeders and owners contribute generously on their own, through financial donations, through stallion seasons donated to auctions, and through their own retirement programs, such as Adena Springs’ retirement program and Three Chimneys’ informal program of connecting horses who need help with owners and breeders. Based on my conversations with owners and breeders, the numbers belie the seriousness with which Thoroughbred retirement is considered by many in the industry.

Still: you can’t get away from them, especially at a time when the racing public is more focused than ever on what happens to horses when their racing careers are over, and when too many people are too easily convinced that that the people who benefit from racing care only about money and not about horses.

The Jockey Club program isn’t the only way for breeders and owners to contribute, and I can understand and respect those who want to choose the charities to which they want to contribute, and how they want to contribute.  They don’t have to donate through this program in order to prove that they are participating responsibly in the game. But if they’re not going to use this program, I hope that they’ll take steps to share what they are doing. It will be good for them, it will be good for racing, and most of all, it will be good for the horses.

5 thoughts on “Jockey Club Breeder Check-off Donations, 2011

  1. If horse racing had proper national leadership, a fee at foal registration would be mandatory designated for TB after race care. Other sources of income at the regional level could be earmarked.

  2. Seriously? They are worried about the tax deduction? The Jockey Club should make it a mandatory fee, even $5 per horse would generate a decent amount. I agree, the owners and breeders may very well donate to other programs but holy cow, this is the easiest and most visable way to show the fans they’re actually trying to help and they don’t take advantage of it. How disappointing.

  3. Yeah, It is a shame to read that miserable support from the donation program. I love horses and horseracing but the industry wonders why it is viewed in such a poor light and they keep shooting themselves in the foot.
    I am a small time owner and breeder and I can tell you every horse I have has been taken care of by me or by someone with a good home from cradle to grave. I still have one of my ol mares thats 15 now and she is my riding horse. I was out of work for 8 months and still found a way to do what I needed to do so one would think a breeding farm could do the same? Im just the kind of fella that if it came down to buying groceries or a bag of horse feed, I would by the horse feed and eat a peanut butter sandwich for dinner. Some will not agree with or understand that.
    I reckon my point is if you are involved in this sport in any way at any level and you cannot give back to the animals and you view horses as strictly a commodity then GET OUT OF THE SPORT!!
    We dont need to hear anymore stories like nasty people in Japan that let Ferdinand end up in a slaughter house or the fools that turned out Gifted, the son of Dynaformer in Arizona that thankfully was rescued by Heart ot Tucson.
    By the way I have also adopted a few off the track horses that needed help. I cant do everything but I can do something. If everyone would do a little the difference would be Huge!!

  4. Linda, I’m curious as to why you think the breeders shouldn’t be concerned about a tax deduction.

    I also respect their decision to donate how and where they would like — several breeders told me that they prefer to donate to local organizations and to have more say over which organizations they support than they do with JC donations.

    If this post conveyed that breeders/owners aren’t do anything to support retirement, I didn’t write it very well. It’s true that not a lot of money is going through this particular fund, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that breeders/owners aren’t supporting retirement.

    For instance, owners of horses that race at a number of tracks — California tracks, Parx, Finger Lakes among them — pay a mandatory percentage of purse money to retirement. I talk in this article about those programs.

    And if you didn’t read the Thoroughbred Times article linked above, check it out. There, breeders and retirement groups speak for themselves.

  5. Teresa, I interpreted that statement to mean they were not participating in the program only because they didn’t get a tax deduction. That seems a poor excuse to me. I think the PR value alone is worth $25 per foal, which generally would give someone less than $5 off their tax bill each. I throw handfuls of change into donation buckets all year long without worrying about tax consequences. So I guess I just don’t get this attitude. Are there breeders who have to register thousands of foals at a time?
    I totally understand they support other programs, groups that are local, and that’s great, I didn’t mean to imply otherwise. I just think from a public perception standpoint, they should be all over this.

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