Days before Triple Crown hopeful American Pharoah was set to blast off from post-position 5 at Belmont Park, an award-winning jockey turned sportscaster, and nicknamed for a Russian fighter jet, spoke of the need in the horse world and racing industry to take care of its equine athletes.
Richard “The Mig” Migliore, an Eclipse Award winning jockey who tenaciously piloted horses to close to 4,500 wins in a storied career, says that horses brought him “everything good in my life” and now that he is retired from horse racing, he seeks to “pay them back” from his vantage on the Board of Directors of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF).
Fresh from a recent visit to the TRF’s Wallkill, N.Y. facility, where 45 Thoroughbred ex-racehorses receive care from inmates in the horsemanship skills program Second Chances, Migliore says he has thought a lot about what happens to racehorses after their careers end, and of the absolute necessity for the sport to find a way to take care of its horses.
“I will say this. I believe it’s incumbent upon the industry, and anybody who has derived any pleasure from a horse, to make sure they’re taken care of,” Migliore says. “A lot of these horses have very short careers. Everybody’s very aware of them when they’re racing, and while people are gambling on them and they’re making money for people.
“But they’re quickly forgotten unless they go to stud or become broodmares.”
Since joining the TRF last October, Migliore has been thinking hard about aftercare issues facing ex-racehorse Thoroughbreds, and says he hopes to help craft a plan of action that the industry might embrace.
“The fact that I had so much success as a rider, I feel it is my responsibility to give back to the horses. Horses have given me everything good in my life, from the tangible things like my house and little farm, and my car, to even meeting my wife Carmela. So, everything good has come from them.”
On a recent afternoon, Migliore hopped in his car and drove 45 minutes to the Wallkill facility to speak to inmates about two very special horses in the herd they care for. Stakes placed Ohio bred CL Rib and New York bred Bubba Sparks, two mounts Migliore rode in the early 2000s, greeted him at the fence.
He brought pictures of the horses taken during their glory days, and told stories about the old days. And afterwards, Migliore felt more than just a little enlightened from the experience.
“I can be a little harsh with people who don’t do the right things, I guess. But after speaking with the guys there, I had such empathy,” he says. “Speaking with these guys, I could tell they wanted to change their lives, and I could see the pride they had in the care they were giving the horses. I was really touched to see how much of a difference these horses are making in their lives.”
Now if only those who enjoy the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, and all of the people who are themselves touched by a horse, will help care of the beautiful animals who give so many hope. — Originally published on June 5, 2015.
5 responses to “‘Race industry needs to take care of its horses’”
I was so encouraged and uplifted to see this retired jockey taking up the very important problem of the poor care horses receive after they’re done racing. I hope there is a lot of support for this!! It is disgusting that retired racehorses are just basically discarded – what a disgusting morally repugnant thing so I am very proud to see Miglione creating a drive to help horses who so deserve good care after all they did!
It’s so good seeing Migliore with his equine friends. I heartily agree that commercial breeders need to take care of their horses to with whom they bred and sold.
It’s great also to see the work that the inmates do to take care of these racers in their retirement days.
WTG!! To everyone 🙂
Wonderful mission and I pray for a great response from caring horse lovers ????????
I, too remember when Migliore rode. Good to see that he’s involved in aftercare of retired race horses.
I remember him from the days when he was an apprentice jockey on the NYRA tracks back in the early 80s. One of the most consistent horses he rode, a claimer named Creme de la Fete, retired to TRF in Walkill at the end of his career.