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Saratoga Springs Mayor Joanne Yepsen was joined by representatives of six racehorse retirement organizations in the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Thursday morning to announce a cooperative coalition for racehorse aftercare, to challenge other communities to act on racehorse retirement and to officially proclaim August "Racehorse Retirement Month."

The newly formed coalition will see six local non-profit charities that rescue and provide second chances for ex-racehorses, ACCT Naturally, Heading for Home, ReRun at North Country Horses, Old Friends at Cabin Creek, the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and Saratoga War Horse team up to increase exposure for retired racehorses and pool their resources to further advance their causes.

"We're really happy to announce that here in Saratoga, where the TRF has its home offices, that we've teamed up ... to form what we're calling the Racehorse Aftercare Charities of Saratoga," said Diana Pikulski of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation. "The really wonderful announcement today is coming from the City of Saratoga and our Mayor Joanne Yepsen, who really inspired us to form this coalition. We went to her to talk about having a city-wide awareness project for the month of August, and she said to us, 'Why would you just limit it to the month of August? This is Saratoga Springs and these horses, the Thoroughbreds and the Standardbreds, are so important to this city and so much about this city, I want to do more than that.' "

Yepsen said her vision was to have the entire community of Saratoga Springs be committed to racehorse aftercare year round.

"You are all the heroes," she said, addressing the representatives of the charities. "But I think even more importantly than that, all our racehorses are the heroes and that's why we're here today because it's about the racehorse and the racehorse's well being. All they bring to this city economically and tourism wise, they deserve this. They deserve us to be working together. They deserve the coalition to be strong locally. They deserve the Mayor's support and we're going to ensure that, as I'm mayor, we're going to do everything possible as a city to care for our racehorses after they are retired."

Yepsen challenged other racing communities to take a strong stand on racehorse aftercare and retirement.

"I can tell you right now that I'm pledging to the entire horse industry and to this nation that me as mayor of the city who depends upon horse racing and loves horse racing so much, will do everything in my power to ensure that we are an aftercare friendly community for racehorses. I am pledging to do everything in my power to ensure the success of all of these organizations and therefore all of our racehorses after retirement. I am now pledging that and challenging every mayor in the country ... to do the same thing. There are other Mayors in the country that also are Mayors of horse racing cities and they should be adopting this pledge as well. I'm hoping other mayors are listening and will respond positively."

Yepsen ended with an official proclamation from the City of Saratoga Springs in the name of racehorse aftercare awareness.

"We, in Saratoga Springs, are specially aware of the contributions these horses make to our economy, our popularity, and our identity as a city. It is both appropriate and necessary to make a clear commitment to a comprehensive program of racehorse aftercare in our community. We are pleased to be able to join with Racehorse Aftercare Charities of Saratoga, an alliance of support organizations announced here today to educate racing professionals, as well as the general public, about the year round need for responsible care planning and to support their goal of humane and ethical treatment for all retired horses . . . Therefore I, Joanne D. Yepsen, Mayor of the City of Saratoga Springs, New York, hereby urge all citizens to increase their awareness of the issue of racehorse aftercare here in our community and to give generously of their time and resources. I herby proclaim the month of August as Racehorse Retirement Month."

The first major event on the calendar for the new Racehorse Aftercare Charities of Saratoga coalition is the 6th Annual 5K Run for the Horses. The event will benefit all of the members of the coalition and will take place at The Saratoga Spa State Park Orenda Pavilion Saturday, September 5. For more information on how to support and participate in the event, visit www.TRFinc.org/5k or call (518) 226-0028, x103.