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Florida Thoroughbreds Retire In Comfort Thanks To Adoption Program

A statue of Secretariat, the Belmont Stakes record holder, stands in the paddock at Belmont Park.
Wally Gobetz via Flickr

It’s funny how a horse race mirrors a horse’s career:  years of training, hours of television coverage, and hats that strain credulity.  And then the gate goes down, the horses are off, and whole thing is over in less than three minutes.  The race itself is only a small part of the spectacle, just as a horse’s racing career is only a small part of its life.  Barbi Moline of Florida Thoroughbred Retirement and Adoptive Care, or Florida TRAC, works with horses after they’ve left racing.  Moline says every horse comes to her group with different needs.

“Some have injuries that need stall rest,” Moline says.  “Such as a bow tendon or a knee chip – something along those lines that are going to require stall rest and some rehabilitation.  Other horses are ready to start their retraining after an extended period of time.”

Florida TRAC takes in horses from the Culver and Gulfstream Racetracks, and Moline says it relies on racetrack support to fund its operation.

“Every race that’s run, a portion of that purse money comes into our fund to help support the horses because it’s very expensive for feed and hay and shavings,” Moline says.

Florida TRAC’s mission is placing their horses in permanent adoptive homes, and Moline says thoroughbreds have the versatility to be successful in many different roles.  According to Moline former racers can do well as show and hunting horses – some even go into mounted police units.  

This weekend, people all over the country will be tuning into the Belmont Stakes to see if California Chrome can add to wins at the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby to take home the first Triple Crown in more than 35 years.  Every horse running is only three years old, so it’s a good thing someone’s planning for their retirement. 

Nick Evans came to Tallahassee to pursue a masters in communications at Florida State University. He graduated in 2014, but not before picking up an internship at WFSU. While he worked on his degree Nick moved from intern, to part-timer, to full-time reporter. Before moving to Tallahassee, Nick lived in and around the San Francisco Bay Area for 15 years. He listens to far too many podcasts and is a die-hard 49ers football fan. When Nick’s not at work he likes to cook, play music and read.