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.

Monday, May 17, 2010



It's the age-old question of which came first ...

Let’s not get sentimental about saving thoroughbreds. Let’s be realistic. Which came first? Did we humans save horses or did horses save us?

Please follow my argument. Let’s stipulate that one of the greatest problems in the USA today is the lack of jobs. Maybe we can also agree that one of the various causes of unemployment is outsourcing.

The horse industries, including racing, are among the last survivors to have not been outsourced. This is the premise of my novel, Tropical Downs, where two shady characters, one from California and one from Bolivia, are conspiring to outsource American racing to South America. It may sound preposterous, but how many other industries have already disappeared from the 50 states?

Now consider another cause of unemployment: high technology converting jobs from being labor intensive to capital intensive. It looks awkward when this conversion is attempted in racing, as exemplified by the walking machine. Without having ever talked to a horse, I can bet confidently that horses enjoy a stroll in the woods much more than walking around in circles.

In fact, the racing industry is not likely to be outsourced, and much of it, by its intrinsic nature must remain labor intensive. According to the Michigan State University extension, horse racing is the most labor intensive activity found in the state of Michigan.

When combined into one statistic, the four segments of the horse industry, recreation, shows, racing and “other” put approximately 1.5 million full-time equivalent jobs into the economy.

Horse activities also put more than $40 billion into the gross domestic product: GDP. But it’s much better than that. The GDP is a flawed number, as economists Herman Daly and Joseph Stiglitz have explained, because it gives equal value to economic activity created by oil slicks or land mines compared with activities created from baseball or furniture manufacturing. Thus, the GDP is composed of both negative and positive impacts.

Horse industries are among those economic activities that represent a positive contribution to the GDP (though if you’ve owned a race horse and lost money in the process, you might not see it that way).

Every thoroughbred that we can save from slaughter creates jobs: many of the labor-intensive variety, but also a host of collateral economic activity, and the best news is that none of this can be outsourced.

No matter how dominating high-tech life becomes, the winning exacta between humans and animals will remain a fundamental part of the economy. For example, the exacta we're bicycling for: the discarded horses that the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation rescues turn around and rescue the country’s discarded human beings. At TRF farms, located at correctional facilities, horses help inmates by teaching vocational and life-affirming skills through innovative programs in horse care and stable management.

This is why our riding a “tour de France” to save horses is not based on sentimentality. It’s the age-old question about which came first, the chicken or the egg. For me, the answer is simple. Horses saved me long before I set out to save a horse.

P.S. Our first preliminary trip is planned for Monday, May 24, to the beautiful Saint-Cloud race course, just west of Paris. To get there we'll have to climb the "hill of death". Stay tuned.

1 comment:

  1. As an admirer of your many writings on handicapping, I am awed to have found your blog.

    I look forward to your reports from France.