The Kentucky Derby is run the 1st Saturday of May, when 20 of the best 3 yr olds in the nation gather to contest this 1 and 1/4 mile race and gain that garland of roses. It is one of the high points of the sport of horse racing. Of the 30,000 some Thoroughbred foals born each year in the USA, a few of them make it to the starting gate.
Most of them don’t. And of those who don’t (and even a few of those who do) some will go on to slaughter at the end of their racing days. That is an end no equine athlete deserves.
What can I, an 18 year old college freshman, do about this? It breaks my heart to know that these horses are dying. I worked at Colonial Downs racetrack this past summer and fell even deeper in love with the Thoroughbred breed than I was previously. One of the horses I worked with will be coming home to my farm when he’s done with his racing career.
So I saved one… which certainly matters to him, but does not make much of a difference in the scheme of things. What else can I do? I don’t have much extra money, but I can donate a few hundred bucks to a Thoroughbred charity. That’ll buy some sacks of grain, pay part of a vet bill, shoe two horses. Again, a noble gesture, but not much all things considered.
What can I do to make a real difference?
This is the question that has haunted me for months. Until, this very week, the answer came to me in a flash of inspiration.
I can saddle up my horse and ride. I can ride the distance of 1000 Kentucky Derbies, which comes out to 1250 miles. I can take a summer and devote it to this. I can get corporations to pledge money for each mile. I can donate that money to Thoroughbred retirement charities all over the country.
This is an announcement: on June 1st, 2009, myself and my horse will be departing on this epic adventure.
Who’s with me?