10/02/2006 11:00PM

Horsemen start fund for LongRun

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The LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement Society, which has done its share of rescuing horses since being founded in 2000, has become the beneficiary of a magnanimous gesture.

The local Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association has pledged .25 percent of its purse account to LongRun. The purse account is funded by the horsemen's share of the various wagering pools and 10 percent of the track's slots revenue.

Sue Leslie, an owner and trainer at Woodbine who is on the boards of both the HBPA and LongRun, estimates that the .25 percent of the purse account will amount to between $220,000 and $250,000 annually.

"There are a lot of horses a year that are no longer able to compete at a racing level but just need some time for rehabilitation before being fostered into a new kind of life," said Leslie. "It's a huge cost. Even with this funding, there are going to be a lot of horses that we're not going to be able to help. But there are going to be a lot of horses we can help."

It was Leslie, acting on LongRun's behalf, who initiated the chain of events that led to the HBPA windfall.

"I was at an industry meeting, and I let them know that LongRun was in dire straits and that some form of industry funding had to come to fruition or we just weren't going to be able to continue," said Leslie. "We were reliant on the generosity of the industry players, but we didn't know from one month to the next what money was going to come in. Trying to become legitimate, be responsible, and setting proper budgets was just about impossible."

At the suggestion of David Willmot, chairman and chief executive of the Woodbine Entertainment Group, Leslie formed a committee that included representatives of Woodbne Entertainment Group, the HBPA, the Ontario Racing Commission, the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society, the Jockey's Benefit Association, the Jockey Club of Canada, and several other interested parties.

The committee first reached the consensus that the retirement foundation was needed, and that the industry had a responsibility to contribute. Their next task was to address what form the contribution would take, and, after looking at different ideas for taxes and surcharges, it was agreed that taking a cut off the top of the purse account was the best alternative. The committee then made its pitch to the board of the HBPA, which approved the .25 percent funding.

A business plan was formulated, and last Wednesday the Ontario Racing Commission approved the funding, retroactive to Sept. 1.

Now, Leslie said, LongRun can plan for the future.

"Our long-term goal is to eventually have a small farm - maybe 20 stalls - where, once horses are rehabilitated, they can all come together," said Leslie. "For someone looking to adopt a horse, right now we operate all these satellite farms. Instead of having them traipse around from place to place, they'll have one central place to come to and see everything we have that's up for adoption. That will allow us to move more horses into homes more quickly, which in turn will allow us to take more horses into the program."

Some satellite farms will be retained for the rehabilitation process, which can be the most problematic issue for potential adopters.

"Most horses, once you rehabilitate them, they're a tremendous asset to somebody," said Leslie. "A lot of people can't afford that rehabilitation. Now, we'll be able to facilitate that for them.

"This is wonderful for Ontario," said Leslie. "I hope it also sends a message to other jurisdictions. If Ontario can be a model, that would be even better."

Krz Ruckus retired at 9

Krz Ruckus, a winner of 17 races and $1,126,862, has been retired at age 9.

Trained throughout his career by Mike DePaulo, Krz Ruckus won nine stakes races and finished in the money 32 times in 53 career starts. Krz Ruckus had been in a tailspin recently and was unplaced in a $12,500 claiming race here last Wednesday.

"He retired sound," said DePaulo. "He had no different aches and pains than he had all his life. He just didn't seem like he wanted to do it anymore. He'd had enough."

Bill Anthoulakis, who works as a blacksmith here, will take Krz Ruckus to his Barrie area farm, where he can look forward to a future as a riding horse.

'Judiths' ships for Phoenix BC

Judiths Wild Rush, based here with trainer Reade Baker, shipped out for Keeneland on Tuesday morning for his engagement in Saturday's Grade 3, $250,000 Phoenix Breeders' Cup. The Phoenix is a six-furlong race for 3-year-olds and upward.

A 5-year-old, Judiths Wild Rush was Canada's champion sprinter last season. He last saw action in Saratoga's Grade 1 Forego, where he finished eighth under jockey Kent Desormeaux.

Jim McAleney, who is Judiths Wild Rush's regular rider here, has the call for the Phoenix.