07/09/2009 12:00AM

New York jockeys to aid retired horses

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Jockeys in New York have started a check-off program that will allow riders to donate $1 from their mount fees to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, an organization that cares for retired racehorses and attempts to find them homes, according to a release from the Jockey Club.

Twenty-nine riders have signed up for the program, according to the release. In addition, the New York Racing Association, which operates Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga, has pledged $50,000 to the retirement foundation, while the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association and the Jockey Club have each pledged $25,000 to the group

Hal Handel, NYRA's chief operating officer, said that the contributions were an "interim step while the New York racing community works out a more comprehensive and detailed plan to deal with the issue" of the care of horses after they have retired.

The aftercare of racehorses made headlines in New York earlier this year when Ernie Paragallo, the owner of Paraneck Stable, was charged with 22 counts of animal abuse involving 177 horses at his Center Brook Farm in Climax, N.Y.

In addition to the pledge to the retirement fund, the New York horsemen's group also made a $10,000 donation to the Columbia-Greene Humane Society, which took possession of 77 horses at Center Brook after the charges were filed.