The Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance has always operated on the premise that horse welfare is a team sport, and the organization is making its presence felt at the NHC for the first time in Las Vegas this year.
“We’ve been here in spirit, in the sense that we’ve had information here, but we’ve never been here in person,” said Stacie Clark, operations consultant for the TAA. “We’ve got some exciting projects going on, and this is the heart of the whole game–this is where we all get our purse money and where we get our fans–and we felt it was time to better know the players and do some networking.”
One of the most exciting TAA developments is a project developed in concert with the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), AmTote and The Stronach Group. Announced last summer while still in development, the project gives the opportunity for horse players cashing winning tickets at AmTote machines the option of making a donation to the TAA.
“The idea was to find a way for the player to give back at the betting window,” Clark explained. “So when you put your winning voucher in, you have the option to make a donation. Depending on how much you’ve won, it could be $1, $5, $10, etc. If you don’t want to, that’s fine, there’s a “No thank you” button. If you do, it gives you a receipt.”
The project was begun two years ago. It was tested at the Pegasus World Cup in 2016, again at Laurel in the fall and finally to the Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar in November.
“We went through the whole Breeders’ Cup without a hitch,” said Clark.
In the last month, Santa Anita and Gulfstream have both embraced the program, joining Laurel and Del Mar as the four tracks where players have that option. The program could soon be nationwide.
“It can be available at all the tracks that carry AmTote machines, we just have to go to those tracks and talk to them about what we do, and ask them to turn the service on. The NYRA tracks, for instance, have already inquired about it, so we’ll go spend some time with Martin Panza and Chris Kay up there.”
Clark said the project was a reason the TAA is making its inaugural visit to the NHC.
“When we’re asking for money at the AmTote machines, players should know who the TAA is and what we do,” she said. “Plus the NTRA has always been great to the TAA, and we’ve been the charity for the Eclipse Awards and, in kind, for this handicapping contest.”
Clark said many players had already made cash donations at the TAA table at the NHC, and several others had made pledges should the win a cash prize at the NHC.
“We’ve had a lot of people make promises, so let’s hope one of them wins!” Clark laughed.