- Background Information
Founded in 1992, New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program was the first aftercare charity to focus specifically on retraining and rehoming retired racehorses. When founder and Executive Director Dot Morgan discovered the great number of horses leaving the racetrack with no safety net, she made it her personal mission to find a solution. Starting with a single farm near Dayton, Ohio, New Vocations took in 25 horses its first year. Over the past 24 years, the program has steadily grown along with the racing industry’s awareness of the importance of aftercare for its retired athletes.
New Vocations leads the nation in racehorse adoptions, taking an average 450 horses a year. The program serves over 40 racetracks, working directly with owners and trainers in need of aftercare. New Vocations has seven facilities in Kentucky, Ohio, and Pennsylvania with room to accommodate 130 horses at any given time. The program takes any retired racehorse coming directly from the track or a layup facility that has the ability to move into a second career. Approximately half of the horses need rehabilitation for injuries and half are able to go right into vocational training. Typically, 70 percent are Thoroughbreds and 30 percent are Standardbreds.
New Vocations has a sound rehabilitation and adoption system in place that is proven to move a large number of horses in a rather short period of time. The focus is on adoption instead of retirement, giving retired racehorses that are physically able a chance to thrive in a second career. In 2013, New Vocations was the first aftercare program in the Midwest to receive accreditation from the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance.
To stand in the gap for noncompetitive, often injured racehorses providing a peaceful environment and skilled hands to assist in their development as pleasure mounts. To place these horses in experienced, loving homes that will continue their education so each has a skill and, therefore, a future.
New Vocations has transitioned and rehomed over 6,500 retired Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds since its inception in 1992. Executive Director Dot Morgan received the Harness Tracks of America Distinguished Service Award in 2005, the TCA Leadership Award in 2008, the
United States Trotting Association President’s Award in 2010, and the United States Harness Writers Unsung Hero Award in 2012 for her aftercare efforts through New Vocations.
As the largest, most successful racehorse adoption charity in the country, New Vocations is frequently called upon to address aftercare issues at industry conferences and equine meetings. New Vocations also actively promotes the versatility of both Standardbreds and Thoroughbreds through educational booths and breed demonstrations at equestrian trade shows and events. (For example, the New Vocations booth at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games sold over $50,000 in apparel promoting racehorse adoptions.)
New Vocations also works diligently to educate racehorse owners and trainers about the adoption option. In addition, the program publishes and distributes 10,000 informative newsletters annually to both the equestrian and racing communities. Articles about New Vocations frequently appear in equestrian and breed publications, and in 2014, NBC Sports Network featured New Vocations in a segment during its Breeders’ Cup coverage.
New Vocations presents the popular Thoroughbreds For All event during Rolex in Lexington, Kentucky, each year along with hosting annual horse shows and other events featuring retired racehorses. New Vocations is a title sponsor and assists in organizing the Standardbred World Show in Delaware, Ohio.
- Expansion Needs in 2014
New Vocations has played a large role in raising awareness in both the racing and equestrian industry about the need for aftercare options for retiring racehorses. The program has worked directly with the racing industry and has provided rehabilitation and rehoming for more horses than any other aftercare organization in the country. New Vocations has been endorsed by many industry leaders and has an excellent reputation for being financially sound and offering a practical approach to aftercare issues.
In 2009, New Vocations expanded it services to Lexington, Kentucky by working with a local boarding facility and trainer. Starting with just 10 stalls, the Lexington program grew to 30 stalls and was taking in 120 retired Thoroughbreds each year. Over a five year period of time, it became apparent that there was an ever-growing need to expand the program’s capacity in Lexington. There were several variables that made the growth in the area important.
• Equine transportation companies often offer retiring horses free or discounted shipping to Lexington since they frequently go there. For example, when a horse at Belmont Park needs to come to the program, it can often find a complementary trip to Lexington when it would otherwise cost $250 to ship it to the Pennsylvania facility. The same holds true when adopters are looking for shipping options. It has proven easier to get horses from Lexington to their new homes than from the other New Vocations facilities.
• The majority of New Vocations’ supporters either live or have interests in Lexington that bring them to the city multiple times throughout the year. This allows donors to visit the facility and view the horses being rehabilitated and trained.
• With 50 percent of the new arrivals suffering from racing injuries, having access to the some of the best veterinary clinics and services in the country is extremely helpful. Hagyard Equine Medical Institute and Park Equine Hospital both discount surgeries and services to New Vocations’ horses saving the program thousands of dollars annually.
• Lexington is the horse capital of the world, and many racing and equestrian entities are headquartered there. It is only appropriate that the leading racehorse adoption program be located in Lexington, as well.
Having the use of facilities in Lexington made it easier for horses throughout the country to enter the program. Horses that needed rehabilitation went to Sovereign Farm, where their care was monitored until they were healthy enough to begin training. Those retiring with no injuries went directly to the training facility at West Wind Farm where they relaxed, socialized, began vocational training and eventually found a new home and career.
- The Challenge
Although New Vocations takes in more retired racehorses each year than any other aftercare organization in the country, there are still large numbers of retiring horses discarded due to lack of readily available options. New Vocations, like every credible aftercare charity, is operating at full capacity with a waiting list. The program receives daily inquiries from owners and trainers who wish to send their horses, but due to limited space and funding, not all horses can be accepted.
In 2014 New Vocations utilized commercial boarding stables to facilitate its program. The Lexington facilities consisted of Sovereign Farm, that houses 10-12 horses for rehabilitation and West Wind Farm that can accommodate 20-22 for retraining.
New Vocations has grown steadily since 1992, and history has shown that every time capacity is increased, the stalls are quickly filled. The challenge was finding a suitable boarding stable that could offer 30 to 40 stalls with both indoor and outdoor arenas and sufficient turnout paddocks.
Could New Vocations build the optimal facility and by doing so gain the ability to increase its intake and expand its community outreach through educational tours and seminars?
- The Response
In 2013, New Vocations began working with Mereworth Farm in Lexington, Kentucky. Owned by the Susan S Donaldson Foundation, Mereworth is a 1,200-acre property bordering I-64 in western Fayette County. Susan Donaldson left the farm in a foundation to be a retirement home for
unwanted horses. Mereworth Farm has strong roots in the racing industry dating back to 1924. Since Donaldson’s passing in 2011, the foundation has restored the farm to a beautiful, working facility that cares for 160 retired horses, the majority of which were her former racehorses. Three years ago, the Susan S Donaldson Foundation partnered with New Vocations by taking 4-6 retired racehorses at a time that needed long-term layup. The farm provided rehabilitative care until each horse was sound to begin retraining.
New Vocations was approached by the trustees of the Susan S Donaldson Foundation in 2014 to discuss ways that the two organizations could expand their partnership. Mereworth Farm’s focus had primarily been on maintaining their retirement herd, but the trustees realized that if Mereworth Farm was able to incorporate a retraining and rehoming program, its impact would be even greater. After several meetings, it became clear that a partnership between New Vocations and the Susan Donaldson Foundations’ Mereworth Farm would not only be a viable proposition, but a historically prominent one as well. The joint venture would mean that a portion of 1,200 acres of Fayette County land would be dedicated to the rehabilitation, retraining, rehoming, and retirement of thousands of former racehorses.
The Susan S Donaldson Foundation offered New Vocations a free, long-term lease of 85 acres on Mereworth Farm to build a retraining and rehoming facility. The arrangement was that New Vocations would be responsible for raising all the funds to build, maintain and run this facility. However, the Foundation agreed to provide all the grain and hay for the New Vocations horses, cover water expenses, and mow all green spaces. The Foundation also provided one of its 20-stall barns along with multiple paddocks and full feed for rehabilitating injured horses prior to retraining.
New Vocations viewed this as an excellent opportunity to both expand its mission and its impact on the racing industry. In May 2015, New Vocations launched a capital campaign to build a facility that would accommodate 40 horses in vocational training. Once complete, it would consist of two 15-stall barns, large outdoor and indoor arenas, an office, multiple paddocks and ample pastures.
The partnership with the Susan S Donaldson Foundation will double New Vocations’ Lexington capacity once the project is complete. The program’s rehabilitation capability increases from 10 horses to 20 and its retraining capacity from 20 to 40 horses at any given time. This will also increase the number of horses adopted from the Lexington facility from the current 100 annually to an expected 180- 200 once fully operational.
In addition, the Susan Donaldson Foundation will continue to expand and take in any New Vocations horse that is deemed un-adoptable and provide it with a permanent retirement home in one of Mereworth Farm’s retirement fields. There is no cost for this service to New Vocations.
In summary, the partnership between New Vocations and the Susan Donaldson Foundation will be the largest rehabilitation, retraining, rehoming and retirement facility in the nation! This partnership is the first of its kind and will dramatically impact the racing industry. The farm will showcase all facets of aftercare and be a destination for the public, as well as the equestrian and racing community, to visit and see the emphasis placed on equine welfare beyond the track.
- Program Financials
New Vocations has built a strong base of supporters and is currently raising over $1 million annually to fund its efforts. The program’s income sources can be seen in the pie chart below.
In order to raise the capital necessary to build the retraining facility at Mereworth Farm, New Vocations will be asking current supporters to contribute along with seeking new donors. New Vocations has shared the potential partnership details with its steadfast donors, and finds all of them eager to support the proposed capital campaign.
The goal is to raise $2 million in three phases, allowing construction to proceed as funding becomes available. No money is being borrowed for the project. In excess of $1,600,000 has been pledged as of mid-November 2016. The program will continue to seek additional pledges the goal is met.
During the course of the campaign New Vocations will work to expand its ongoing donor support to cover the additional expense of operating the new facility. While doubling New Vocations’ Lexington capacity, the Mereworth operation is expected to only increase operating costs by 25% or approximately $100,000 annually.
- Fundraising Campaign
The New Vocations Capital Campaign was officially launched in May of 2015 to raise the remainder of funds needed to build the retraining facility at Mereworth Farm. This announcement was made during Triple Crown season and received a great response. Shortly after the announcement, a ceremonial ground breaking took place to at the building site and was widely covered by local and national media sources.
There are a variety of naming opportunities throughout the new facility, including buildings, stalls and paddocks. Additional, creative naming opportunities are welcomed and encouraged. New Vocations will work with each interested donor to create a prominent naming display for their contribution.
All contributors of $50,000 or more will be recognized as Founding Donors and, in addition to naming rights, will get a lawn jockey painted in their colors prominently placed on the property.
7. Campagin Status End of 2016
Mike Repole – Inaugural Foundation Donor
Sara Jane Leigh
Starlight Racing/Starladies Racing
Glen Hill Farms
Stonestreet Stables LLC
Jim and Therese Faulconbridge
Anthony Cecil Insurance
NYTHA Take the Lead
Michael Dubb/Built To Win LLC
Ralph M Evans
Ran Jan Racing
Robert and Jan Naify
Phil and Anne Creek/100% Racing LLC (2)
Let’s Go Stables 2)
Ted Hoye/First Credit Corp. of New York
NYTHA Take the Lead
Peter and Eloise Canzone, Sr.
Evan Ciannello/It’s All About the Girls
In Memory of Joshua Scott Radosevich
In Memory of Artie’s Chapter
Dr. Carolyn Karlson
Kari and Mike Schneider
In Memory of Tonight’s The Nite
Jake and Shelly Radosevich/JSR Stables, Inc.
Metro the Painting Racehorse
Dr. Jenna Encheff
Janelle A. Hall
Charles & Dot Morgan
The Post Printing Company
Richard & Ellen Pawlowski
Peter and Eloise Canzone, Sr.
Kahler Basin aka “Bones”
In Memory of Bruce Sickels DVM
Dr. Susan S. Cook
Ronny and Mary Bridges/Sauganash Stables, LTD.
Cot Campbell/Dogwood Stables
Bob Wehner/Bourbon Creek Stable
Gary and Susanna Miller
Charles and Ruth Purvis
Lois R. Angeletti
Susan Lynn Andrews
Dana Fox in Honor of Metro Meteor
Wolfgang B. Heidi
Robert & Joyce Wehner
Jerry & Maggie Miller
William & Peggy Heinrich
Remi & Bridget Belloq
KY Horse Council Inc
Ted Hoye/Eccentric Club Stables LLC
Dr. Carolyn Karlson
Ronny and Mary Ann Bridges/Sauganash Stables, LTD.
Thoroughbred Charities of America
Remaining naming opportunities include:
IIndoor Arena and Viewing Area
Foundation Donor (3)
Paddocks and Pastures
$5,000-$25,000 (depending on size)
In conclusion, New Vocations is honored to have the opportunity and financial support to build a retired racehorse retraining and adoption facility at historic Mereworth Farm. New Vocations is passionate about providing aftercare options for racing’s equine athletes and is committed to raising awareness through education. Partnering with Mereworth Farm in this mutual endeavor gives equine welfare a prominent position in the racing industry. To learn more please visit www.newvocations.org
Anna Ford / firstname.lastname@example.org / 614-989-3926