Racing fans delight in the power and grace of Thoroughbreds as they gallop the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes each spring, but what happens to these peak athletes once their competitive days are over? That’s where Westchester native Rick Schosberg wins, places, and shows as a leading advocate of quality aftercare for Thoroughbreds.
“One thing we want the public to realize is that a Thoroughbred’s racing career is only about one-fifth or one-quarter of their lifespan,” says Schosberg, whose sobriquet is Conscience of the Backstretch. “So, there’s a tremendous amount of time after their racing career is over, and it needs to be purposeful.”
Schosberg serves as president of two award-winning initiatives that focus on safe and purposeful Thoroughbred retirement. TAKE THE LEAD and its sister program, TAKE2, are dedicated to providing horses with meaningful second careers. “These horses are used to having jobs, and they enjoy it,” he says.
Some continue to display their competitive spirit as hunters, jumpers, or in barrel racing. There is also a steady need for police horses. Those with particularly gentle demeanors are ideal to participate in therapy programs that assist with physical or mental rehabilitation.
Schosberg grew up around horses. Since 1974, his family has owned Katonah’s Pine Lane Farm, where he still resides. A graduate of John Jay High School and Cornell University, Schosberg trained Thoroughbreds from 1988 until his retirement at the end of last season, his stable having produced 876 victories from 5,794 starters, with purse earnings exceeding $38 million. Schosberg is also a board member of the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, an award-wining national effort that has raised more than $28 million since its 2012 inception.
“[Rick] is a horse lover, first and foremost,” says Andy Belfiore, executive director of the TAKE2 program. “That is what is most important to him, the health and well-being of the horse.”
Established in 2013, TAKE THE LEAD retired its 1,000th horse last New Year’s Eve. Her name, Fight On Lucy, is fitting because Schosberg has every intention of fighting on for Thoroughbreds.
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