TAA Elects New Board Members

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The Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, going into its fifth year of operations, has elected eight new members to its board of directors. The TAA's new members of the board of directors are: President-Elect John Phillips, Owner of Darby Dan Farm; Dora Delgado, senior vice president of racing and nominations at Breeders' Cup Ltd.; Mike Ernst, executive vice president and CFO of Del Mar Thoroughbred Club; Jim Gagliano, president and COO of The Jockey Club; David O'Farrell, manager of Ocala Stud; Martin Panza, senior vice president of New York Racing Association; Yvonne Schwabe, owner of Persley Den Farms; and Jen Shah, director of tax services at Dean Dorton Allen Ford PLLC.

“It is important to me that horse racing survives and, more important, prospers. To do so I believe the TAA addresses a general, and not unreasonable, concern regarding the future of the equine after racing,” said Phillips. “The fact is that our fans greatly care what happens to equines after racing. In order for this sport to have a viable future we must own up to this inescapable concern. The TAA is a rational, practical answer; retrain, retire or humanely manage. I want our sport to take responsibility for its future by making the TAA more a part of every aspect of our sport and industry.”

James “Jimmy” Bell, Godolphin America president and TAA outgoing president, commented, “The TAA has made so much progress in the last couple of years due in no small part to such a dedicated team of staff and a very engaged board. Through this period we have elevated the awareness of aftercare and have earned our stripes every day in maintaining and achieving the good housekeeping seal that the Thoroughbred industry has come to know and trust in aftercare management. We have a great new board going forward and a phenomenal new president in John Phillips, who brings not only passion but a tremendous intellectual and organizational skillset. The TAA is poised to make further strides in addressing the real needs of Thoroughbred aftercare.”

Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, a non-profit organization based in Lexington, accredits, inspects and awards grants to approved aftercare organizations to retire, retrain and rehome Thoroughbreds using industry-wide funding. Along with continued funding from its original partners Breeders' Cup Ltd., The Jockey Club, and Keeneland Association Inc., the TAA is now also supported by owners, trainers, breeders, racetracks, aftercare professionals and other industry groups. To date, 64 aftercare organizations supporting more than 180 facilities across the U.S. and Canada have been granted accreditation and received funding from the TAA. To learn more about the TAA, visit www.thoroughbredaftercare.org.

We asked the new board members what they hoped to achieve in their tenure at the TAA. Here are their responses:

John Phillips

“My mantra is that I don't want to argue about whether or not we should treat horses like pets, or whether or not they are just livestock. That's a matter of personal values and I don't want to engage in that debate. But I do believe-firmly believe–that the public is very sensitive about it and if we want to have this sport, we need to pay attention to it. Public sensitivity toward how our sport treats horses is only going to grow, and to ignore it is suicide. So what do I want to accomplish? To elevate the consciousness of the issue relative to the survivability of the sport. I don't think the sport will survive if we don't.”

Dora Delgado

“During my tenure, I plan to work towards an even greater awareness of the many good and necessary aftercare programs that are available to the owners and trainers of thoroughbred horses whose time at the track is coming to a close. I hope to be actively involved in the accreditation process and will promote the organization within the industry to garner funds so that these thoroughbred athletes are trained for a lifetime of good work off the track.”

Michael Ernst

“I am excited to further the TAA's outstanding efforts to ensure for the care of our equine athletes after finishing their racing careers, whether it is providing for a new career or a comfortable retirement for these magnificent athletes that are the heart and soul of the world of racing. The TAA's work is something I care deeply about and strongly support. As a financial executive with a successful racing association, I look forward to working with the TAA Board and assisting staff with financial matters, best practices and the governance of this fine organization to advance its mission.”

David O'Farrell

“Being involved in a full-scale operation such as ours, where we raise thoroughbreds from conception to two year old in training sales, I find that you become personally invested in the animals. It's only natural for me to want to contribute my time and effort to the TAA and give back to the horses that have given so much to me. My goal is to continue to grow the TAA through much needed fundraising and to show people how their money is being responsibly spent and the credible impact it makes on the industry as a whole.”

Jim Gagliano

“The Jockey Club was a founding member of the TAA and it continues to provide significant funding to the organization. I am eager and honored to work with my fellow board members and other factions of the Thoroughbred industry not only to grow the resources of the TAA, but to enhance the reputation of the organization and further increase the network of facilities providing aftercare.”

Yvonne Schwabe

“While I serve on the board, I hope to continue to raise awareness of Thoroughbred aftercare. I feel it is the responsibility of everyone who participates in our Industry to ensure the welfare, safety and aftercare of our Thoroughbred athletes at the conclusion of their racing and/or breeding careers. Most fillies have residual value as broodmare prospects, however very few colts have a future in the breeding shed, unless they have had exceptional success on the racetrack. This is a very real issue and those horses which do not enjoy a breeding career, must be provided with a comfortable life, a meaningful purpose and a suitable retirement. I hope to continue to educate those in the equine community about the value of the Thoroughbred and how, with proper rehabilitation and retraining, they are becoming key participants in all equine disciplines. Thoroughbreds are willing, smart and worthy athletes. A retired Thoroughbred can still do it all!”

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