04/26/2011 2:23PM

Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation getting funds earmarked for special needs

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LEXINGTON, Ky. – Thoroughbred owner Paul Saylor has designated that funds raised for the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation in his late daughter’s honor will go to horses with special needs, the foundation announced Tuesday.

According to the retirement foundation, the funds will be put toward caring for “specific horses requiring special or geriatric care,” including some removed from two of the foundation’s satellite farms in Oklahoma that critics alleged had neglected horses.

The foundation’s Diana Pikulski said the fund will start with $20,000 and that the retirement organization and Saylor are committed to building on that.

“Olivia would have wanted to care for the horses most in need,” Saylor said. “Protecting racehorses and protecting the TRF as an ongoing entity to help racehorses should be a priority for everyone interested in Thoroughbred racing.”

Olivia Saylor, 21, died in a Charleston, S.C., house fire on Jan. 1. Her father credited her with naming two-time champion Ashado, whom the Saylors campaigned in partnership led by Starlight Stables.

The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation has been battling allegations of neglect at satellite farms since a March 18 New York Times story reported that a veterinarian had found starving and emaciated horses on satellite farms after the foundation fell behind in paying caretakers. That veterinarian, Dr. Stacey Huntington, has since issued a report saying 25 of 857 horses had body condition scores of less than three and 116 had body condition scores of four or less. On a standard body condition scoring system, four is “moderately thin” and three is “thin.”

The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation has denied those allegations, noting that many of the horses in its herd are aged and questioning Huntington’s objectivity in evaluating the horses. The racehorse retirement organization recently completed its own herd evaluations with a group of veterinarians. That report has not yet been made public.

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