Why We're Doing This, and How You Can Help

What would inspire two men, ages 65 and 59, to take on 11 racetracks in 21 stages and 25 days over 1,000 kilometers...on their bicycles?

The way we see it, Thoroughbred race horses have contributed to the very meaning of life, so they too deserve to retire with dignity and not be sent to the slaughterhouse just because they now do six furlongs in 1:16 instead of 1:12.

As American expatriates living in Paris, we have decided to ride our own Tour de France--riding from racetrack to racetrack across France--during the 'real' Tour de France to raise money for Thoroughbred retirement. But we need your help.

We invite you to follow our journey, and if you'd like to sponsor us, just click on www.firstgiving.com/trf or on the Sponsor Us link below.

The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation currently cares for over 1200 unwanted horses. When you sponsor us, we are helping them in their mission to save ALL unwanted racehorses.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010



The ornate stone carved-stone grandstand where Ernest Hemingway used to hang out when he played the horses in the early 1920s in Paris, today sits empty in decaying splendor.
“We can’t tear it down,” said one racing administrator, “ because it’s registered as a heritage site.”

We’re talking about Auteuil race course, at the west end of Paris in the Boulogne forest. Auteuil is France’s premier jump-racing track. In France, racing newspapers, players and fans follow three genres: both flat and jump racing, as well as trotting. Occasionally a horse will do both flat and jump racing.

The newer grandstand of Auteuil was constructed in architectural harmony with Hemingway’s hangout. Before our tour de France officially begins, we will add a trip to Auteuil as well as one to Saint-Cloud, another splendid track not open during the Tour. We have added two more tracks, bringing us to a projected 13, since:

(1) we two veteran claimers need workouts before the race
(2) we deserve a "handicap" to begin accumulating miles, since we're much older than the Tour cyclers
(3) the readers of this blog deserve an introduction to these two historic tracks, which would not have been possible between July 3rd and July 25th.

In summary, we want to pedal as long and as hard as possible because it means raising more retirement funds for those magnificent Thoroughbreds who battle courageously, sometimes winning money for us.

In the 1920s, as explained in the autobiographical slice of his life, A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway gave up racing, calling it a “demanding friend”. He was telling us horseplayers to respect the game. Either do all your homework or don’t play.

Hemingway had a similar respect for bicycling: “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.”

It would have been “pretty” to end on this note, but as can be expected of a member of the human species, Ernest Hemingway was riddled with contradictions. Anyone who intends to defend horses cannot ignore Hemingway’s admiration for bull fighting, a spectacle where horses are subjected to horrific and useless gore.

Hemingway, in many ways a humane individual, turned the other way rather than confront the cruelty of man taunting and slaughtering animals in bull fighting. In an uncomfortable way, I identify with Ernest Hemingway. For years I too enjoyed my treasured spectacle, horse racing, while preferring to ignore the terrible but needless fate of the gallant horses I bet on.

No more. I’ll be pedaling hard, to play a small role in saving magnificent Thoroughbreds while maybe rescuing some of my own humanity along the way.

PS. The previous post on French racing was written by my partner Alan, who has played a role in raising my consciousness about race horse retirement.

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