The Earle I. Mack Foundation will be the lead sponsor for the $100,000 Sir Barton S., held during the 2019 Preakness weekend at Pimlico Race Course. Scheduled for May 18, the Sir Barton Stakes will benefit the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance and the Man O’War Project.
The Man O’ War Project is a joint venture of the Earle I. Mack Foundation and Columbia University Irving Medical Center that is exploring the benefits of equine-assisted therapy in the treatment of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The organization was launched by former U.S. Ambassador to Finland Earle I. Mack, philanthropist, military veteran, and an avid horse enthusiast.
“Thoroughbred aftercare is one of my life’s passions, and the collaboration with a group like TAA is a natural fit for the Man O’ War Project, which depends on retired Thoroughbreds,” explained Mack. “Together, our groups will show that life after racing is one full of promise and positivity, and can assist one of our most important communities, our veterans.”
The Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that accredits, inspects, and awards grants to approved aftercare organizations that retrain, rehome, and retire Thoroughbreds using industry-wide funding.
“The TAA is grateful for the support from Ambassador Mack and is pleased to be presenting the race alongside the Man O’ War Project, which is doing much-needed research to help both our horses and veterans,” TAA operations consultant Stacie Clark Rogers said.
Now in its 26th year, the Sir Barton Stakes to Benefit the TAA and the Man O’ War Project is named after U.S. Thoroughbred racing’s first Triple Crown winner, who completed the feat 100 years ago.
Led by researchers at Columbia University, the Man O’ War Project is the first university-led clinical research study to determine the effectiveness of equine-assisted therapy and establish guidelines for the treatment of military veterans who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress.
The Man O’ War Project takes veterans diagnosed with PTSD through an eight-week treatment program that uses equine-assisted therapy to help them relearn the skills they need to live healthier and more productive lives. Working side by side with licensed mental health therapists and equine specialists, the veterans are guided through a series of non-riding interactions with the horses, which help them gain a better understanding and awareness of their own emotions and behavior.
Through this process, veterans increase emotional awareness and the ability to recognize and regulate emotion, and learn to more effectively interact with the horse and, by extension, the people in their lives.