We care about what happens to our horses
We are regularly asked what happens to our racehorses when they are retired. From our leadership to our partners, the short answer is this: we have a strong commitment to this segment of racing, and a long history of support.
Much of what modern horsemen and medical experts know of horses—from our advances in medications and lifesaving surgeries, our understanding of biomechanics and training, and our advances in nutrition and therapeutic protocols—is owed to private funding from the thoroughbred racing industry: contributions from owners, breeders, and partnerships like ours that are quietly, but in a most dedicated way, always putting the horse first.
Helping our program expand and ultimately serve more horses
Jack and Laurie have been avid supporters of New Vocations for fifteen years, and played a role in helping our program expand and ultimately serve more horses. Their dedication to ensuring all Starlight horses receive proper aftercare is to be applauded.
Where do Starlight and StarLadies horses go when you retire them?
Stallion and Broodmare Prospects
Our Starlight and StarLadies Racing partnerships are fortunate to be able to race at the highest levels of the sport. We buy horses with brilliant bloodlines and tremendous ability, and this maximizes their chance to have successful racing careers. Because of their considerable value and their potential to pass coveted traits to future generations of the breed, it is desirable to keep such horses intact whenever possible. That usually means many of our horses enter into successful breeding careers, producing the next generations of elite equine athletes.
It is a gift when we get the chance to buy and develop the offspring of our former champions. Our 2017 champion, Neolithic's sire, Harlan’s Holiday, was one of our champions nearly 21 years ago! We were particularly excited to see our former champion Ashado selected for Season 3 of Foal Patrol at Gainsborough Farm.
If you have not visited these elite farms, please do so if you are ever given the chance. These historic farms are spectacular, and you can see first-hand how well-loved and cared-for these horses are.They remain well-cared for throughout their lives.
Starlight horses have gone on to have successful breeding careers in Saudi Arabia, South America, and North America, among other nations. Look through our Portfolio of Champions, and you will see we work with well-known breeding operations. All of them are as dedicated to the thoroughbred breed as we are. Our own partners will also take Starlight and StarLadies horses into their private breeding operations.
Placing Horses at Levels Where They Can Succeed
While the Starlight and StarLadies model is built around racing and winning at the highest levels, not all of the horses we buy as yearlings are able to be competitive in this realm. We always move our horses with care and we want them to be winners—at any level. These horses are either pointed to a claiming race or sold privately to a stable that takes good care of its horses and is successfully competing at a venue and level that matches the horse.
Adoption Through TAA Accredited Organizations
Sometimes we get a horse that despite the best breeding, despite a seeming perfection of conformation, it just doesn’t want to be a racehorse! For any runner that is not best served by remaining in a competitive racing (or breeding) career, we place that horse with an organization that has been accredited by the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance. This assures us that our horses will receive the retraining, care, and adoption-screening needed to create the best match for the horse.
These are organizations that make every effort to not just place the horse, but place the horse in a home that fits the horse’s personality and competitive inclinations.
Our Stance On Aftercare
We believe it is our responsibility and the responsibility of our peers to help guide and influence the way the industry and the public view and respond to:
- The needs of retiring racehorses
- How adoption entities conduct their operations
- Ensuring thoroughbred racing remains a sustainable sport that continues to operate with integrity
“It is our responsibility as owners, tracks, breeders, trainers, jockeys, bloodstock agents, and anyone who has a stake in the game to take responsibility for the aftercare of these great animals who are the keystone of our sport,” said TAA board president and Thoroughbred owner Jack Wolf. “Securing support and funding from Breeders' Cup, The Jockey Club, Keeneland, and so many other great organizations speaks to the credibility and importance of our effort and is so greatly appreciated.”Jack Wolf, past TAA Board President and Founder of Starlight Racing, in, "Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance Formed", BloodHorse Magazine, February 9, 2015.
The Founding Of The Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance
Before it was en vogue to talk about thoroughbred aftercare, our leadership was having those tough conversations with industry participants, and working to find solutions.
As part of that framework, our founder and managing partner, Jack Wolf, played a critical role in founding the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA). Those efforts led to a special Eclipse Award presented to the TAA in 2015.
Today, the TAA has granted accreditation to approximately 160 facilities throughout the U.S. that focus on rehabbing, retraining, and rehoming former race horses, and awarded more than $17M in grants. Most recently, Fasig-Tipton and Keeneland revised their fee structure to ensures the TAA receives a set-percentage (and mandatory) donation from owners at the time of sale, on the purchase of every horse that goes through their auctions. This was a big win for the TAA.
Jack, Laurie, and many of our partners maintain an active voice within thoroughbred owner’s organizations, regularly donating to and sponsoring events related to thoroughbred aftercare.
Our Chief Operating Officer, Donna Brothers has also been with the TAA since its inception and currently holds a seat on their executive board. She is also the Strategic Advisor for the Thoroughbred Safety Coalition. Our leadership has been a guiding voice in this arena for decades, and we remain on the forefront of positive change in our industry.
About New Vocations
The person we turn to for help placing our horses into reputable homes is Anna Ford, the Thoroughbred Program Director of one of our favorite non-profits. New Vocations is an organization that is dedicated to putting foundational retraining into our fine thoroughbreds when needed, and finding qualified families and individuals that have the experience, patience and desire to make our horses thrive in their new careers as show horses, therapy horses and more.
In addition to their TAA accreditation, New Vocations is a partner in The Right Horse Initiative, a national movement reframing the conversation about equine adoption. This initiative represents a collective of industry professionals and equine welfare advocates working together to improve the lives of horses in transition through a dialogue of kindness and respect. Since 1992, New Vocations has placed over 7,000 horses into loving homes and second careers.
The Founding of Mereworth Farm
Starlight was one of the founding donors for New Vocations' Mereworth Farm. Mereworth is their newest equine training and rehabilitation facility in Lexington, Kentucky. When we send a horse to New Vocations, we know that horse will be getting the best care and retraining possible, and matched to a devoted family! We could not be more grateful to them.
Thank you to Equisport Photos for these beautiful images of New Vocations' Mereworth Farm in Lexington, Kentucky.
Most recently, thanks to contributions by Starlight Racing and other Breeder’s Cup Pledge participants, New Vocations raised over $110,000 in pledges in just two days, during the 2019 Breeder’s Cup Championships.
Jack and Laurie Wolf, and our Starlight-StarLadies partners are always proud to work with and support organizations like New Vocations and Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, among others. They are a part of the voice in this industry that is always innovating, always looking for solutions, always committing to a horse-first approach, and always striving to improve the sport and preserve it for future generations.
We look forward to many more years of providing donor support to these organizations and remaining with them in ongoing partnership.
We love hearing stories about our former Starlight and StarLadies stars.
Do you have a Starlight Racing or StarLadies Racing alumnus/alumna? We would love to hear more – please email us, send us pictures, and let us know how they are doing! (Click on photos below to learn more about each horse!)