In addition to hosting a stakes-filled afternoon of live racing as part of the 21st annual Festival of the Sun on Saturday, October 13, Calder Casino & Race Course will also hold ceremonies throughout the day in conjunction with Florida TRAC (Thoroughbred Retirement and Adoptive Care), Horses and the Handicapped of South Florida, the Broward Sheriff’s Mounted Unit, and Hobbs Equestrian to honor retired thoroughbred race horses now serving the community in their second careers.
Established in 2009 as a south Florida-specific racehorse retirement and placement program, Florida TRAC is made up of a dedicated group of volunteers whose purpose is to find adoptive homes for retired thoroughbreds and is dependent upon a continued alliance between race tracks, industry officials, horsemen, owners, trainers, jockeys, and fans. Since its inception, over 175 horses have entered the Florida TRAC program, with an adoption rate of approximately two-thirds of all entrants.
Scheduled to represent Florida TRAC for a winner’s circle ceremony following the second race on Festival of the Sun day is the former Milt Wolfson trainee The Judge Sez Who, a two-time graded stakes winner that won the 2002 Fred Hooper Handicap at Calder that was relocated to his new home in Lake Worth in April of this year, along with former Dave Fawkes trainee Possetothemax, a six-time winner in 11 starts at Calder that has also found a new adoptive home.
A non-profit organization located in Coconut Creek, Horses and the Handicapped of South Florida has been providing equine-assisted therapy for children and adults with physical, cognitive, and emotional challenges for over 30 years. Using all senses as they ride, program participants process visual, auditory, and tactile information that leads to improved muscle tone, strength, speech, balance, and coordination.
Horses and the Handicapped also provides opportunity and access to underserved members of the special-needs community through a generous scholarship program, providing them the opportunity to work towards and attain goals in a unique partnership with horses.
Representing Horses and the Handicapped of South Florida in a winner’s circle celebration following the third race will be the 4-year-old colt King Don, a Florida-bred that competed just once during his racing career for, then-trainer Chris Gatis, winning at Calder in July 2010 by 11 ¼ lengths.
Patrol officers on horseback still hold an important place in many law enforcement agencies as oftentimes a mounted deputy can access areas where traditional police vehicles can not due to space limitations or congestion.
The Broward Sheriff's Mounted Unit is a part-time unit that is available upon request to assist when mounted services are needed and has been used for a variety of community policing functions from the recovery of prisoner escapees, locating lost children, or providing a unique horseback presence at community and special events.
Two horses currently serving the community as part of the Broward Sheriff's Mounted Unit will be in the Calder winner’s circle following the fourth race on Festival of the Sun day as the former Dave Fawkes trainee Steel Force and one-time Dave Paulus pupil Friendly Township will both make an appearance.
The final retired thoroughbred ceremony on the Festival of the Sun program will come after race six and is reserved for the one-time Alan Benson trainee Gregory, who competed 20 times at Calder during his three-year racing career and is now part of the team at Hobbs Equestrian, which provides advanced training and care for retired racehorses as they transition to a new life in other equestrian sports.
Display booths will be staffed with representatives from Florida TRAC, Horses and the Handicapped of South Florida, The Broward Sheriff's Mounted Unit, and Hobbs Equestrian to provide additional information about each individual program. The national Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation will also participate, with an emphasis on its Florida farm division.
In addition to working with the aforementioned organizations, Calder also works with its corporate parent, Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI), through the “Green Pastures” program to educate horsemen about racehorse adoption and sponsorship programs; facilitate the donations of retired racehorses to non-profit organizations associated with CDI racetracks; raise funds to support retirement, retraining, and adoption organizations associated with CDI racetracks; and raise awareness of the equine retirement and retraining non-profit organizations servicing CDI racetracks.