By Dick Jerardi
There are more significant annual racing days at Parx now than ever before, but the most impactful day will come on Saturday June 22, the sixth annual Turning for Home Day.
The 11-year-old racehorse retirement program, which is owned and run by the Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (PTHA), has become the industry model with almost 2,700 horses retired from the track that are eventually rehomed and retrained. The program is mostly funded by a $30 per start fee that comes through horse owners and annual donations by the PTHA, Parx, Parx jockeys and the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders’ Association (PHBA).
Turning for Home Day is an opportunity to showcase the program and raise some additional funds for an endeavor that has become even more important in 2019 when so much national attention has been focused on the horse deaths this winter at Santa Anita.
The day will start with an 11:45 AM presentation in the Cotillion Room by state vets Dr. Craig Goldblatt and Dr. Shari Silverman. It is open to the public and highly recommended that trainers also attend.
“They’re going to talk a little bit to the public and the trainers about what goes into making sure that these horses are safe to race,” TFH Program Administrator Danielle Montgomery said. “They’ll talk about what they do for their vet exams, not just the morning of (a race), but all that we do here at Parx to make sure these horses are safe for racing.”
In addition to the $75,000 Turning for Home Stakes, the race card will also include the $100,000 Power By Far Stakes and $100,000 Crowd Pleaser Stakes.
“We are going to bring out some of our alumni and just have a great day celebrating Parx Racing and what we do for our adopted horses,” Montgomery said.
Montgomery is hoping that Power By Far, who stands at Castle Rock Farm in Unionville, Pa., will be making an appearance before the race named in his honor. Power By Far, a stallion since 2002, won 15 of 32 races and $544,335 in his career. One of Power By Far’s sons, Aye Jay Power, is coming to Turning for Home Day.
“(Aye Jay Power) was adopted by one of our great ladies who adopted three of our Turning for Home horses,” Montgomery said. “She’s going to bring him around just so you can see the father, the son, talk a little bit about how great these bloodlines are and how the mentality of a Thoroughbred transfers into them as riding horses.”
Aye Jay Power raced 32 times from 2013 to 2015 with three wins, six thirds and earnings of $77,127. When he was no longer competitive on the track, he was a perfect TFH candidate. In addition to bringing Aye Jay Power, Susan Ospina is donating her time and resources as a floral designer for her Bella Design Company on TFH Day.
When National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) representatives were at Parx for the track’s recent safety accreditation, they spent some time with Montgomery. They were especially impressed with how TFH keeps tabs on the retired horses that are in the program.
“Turning for Home does a lot of tracking,” Montgomery said. “We have three people full time who are following up with our adopters, following up with our farms, and I think they were impressed with the tracking that we do here and how we make sure we don’t just send them to the first place and turn them loose. We follow them… It’s a full-time job just keeping up with them as they get to their third and fourth home.”
The very first horse in the TFH program was named Maneuverable. That was 11 years ago. Over the years, the program has just gotten stronger and more streamlined with each link in the chain critical to its success. All of it will be rightly celebrated on Saturday, June 22 at Parx.