By Dick Jerardi
The rains finally ceased, so the sixth annual Turning for Home Day at Parx Racing on Saturday, June 22, was appropriately glorious on the first day of summer.
The racing was great, the cause even greater.
“We had a great picnic lunch for the Partner Farms and the adopters; anybody that helps us,” said TFH Program Administrator Danielle Montgomery. “And we try to bring new faces out to the races. Some of our adopters know they have ex-racehorses, but they have no idea about what they actually do. They have never seen live races.”
They got to see two TFH alumni—Dover Point and Sterling’s Maximus—lead the post parade for the $75,000 Turning for Home Stakes. The race was won by 16-1 longshot His Royal Majesty, who gave the best performance of his career, coming from way back early in the mile and a sixteenth race to blow by the field in the stretch and win by 3 1/4 lengths. Moon Gate Warrior, second in the TFH Stakes in 2018 to Parx Horse of the Year Aztec Sense, was a hard-trying second again.
There were two $100,000 Pennsylvania-Bred stakes prior to the Turning for Home Stakes. The grass course was soaked from all the rain during the week so they had to be moved to the main track.
Favored Chilly in Charge dominated the Crowd Pleaser, winning by 12 lengths. Wildcat Combat won the Power By Far by a length at 7-1.
Power By Far, now a 24-year-old stallion following a great racing career, paraded just before the race named in his honor. He was joined by one of his offspring, TFH graduate Aye Jay Power. The stallion’s owner Barbara Geraghty presented a spray of flowers to the winner of the Power By Far race.
“We had a good turnout,” Montgomery said. “We had a lot of people that don’t normally come to the races. The picnic area was full. It was a picture-perfect day.”
The TFH program is mainly funded by a $30 per start fee that comes from horse owners and annual donations by the PTHA, Parx, Parx jockeys and the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders’ Association (PHBA).
Each of those organizations got plaques on TFH Day thanking them for their role in helping find new homes for nearly 2,700 retired racehorses so far.
Prior to the races, the Cotillion Room was packed for seminars by state veterinarian Dr. Shari Silverman and Turning for Home vet Dr. Tom Lurito. Videos of the seminars are on the TFH Facebook page. Dr. Silverman’s colleague, Dr. Craig Goldblatt, received a plaque for his long service at Parx in the winner’s circle after the first race. He is retiring after 33 years of service in July.
“Tom Lurito, our Turning for Home vet talked to the adopters about the process, kind of dispelled some myths, talked about how the horses never do as much and are never the same as what they did here racing,” Montgomery said. “Horses maybe can’t race, but they can still do every kind of second career because it’s not as demanding. Nothing is as demanding as racing at the top peak level.”
And that is the essence of the Turning for Home program. Racehorses that have given their all on the track are re-trained for second careers and get to find a comfortable place to live out the rest of their lives.