One of the world’s top charities supporting retired racehorses has fallen far behind in payments to support the horses, leaving scores of the creatures malnourished, starving, or dead; at least two have had to be put down, the New York Times reports. The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation in upstate New York funds the upkeep of some 1,000 horses, paying 25 farms across the country to care for the animals. The foundation receives millions in donations from horseracing luminaries. But it’s been running a deficit for the past two years, and the horses are paying the price.
The estate of breeder Paul Mellon, the foundation’s biggest supporter, had a veterinarian investigate after hearing complaints from caretakers; she found that a quarter of the 700 horses she examined required urgent care. At one farm, owners wouldn’t let Mellon’s vet see the horses until the foundation agreed not to prosecute. Inspectors could only find 47 of 63 horses; many they found were starving, and those they couldn’t track down had likely died of neglect, they said. The owners said they did the best they could with dwindling payments. “We have dug ourselves a big hole financially, and we’re still behind,” said the president of the foundation.