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.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


We entered into Stage 1 with 76 kilometers accumulated from our two prologue stages to Saint-Cloud and Auteuil.
The main course of Stage 1 involved a round trip to Longchamp plus an appetizer to the Arc de Triomphe for a “photo opportunity” for Thoroughbred Times. The two short trips add up to 28 km. New total: 104 km, or 65 miles.
The photo op may be the most dangerous moment in our whole tour, as the photographer insisted that we pose with our bikes in the middle of the Champs-Elysées Boulevard (inches away from insane traffic whizzing by on both sides). We risked our lives in order for him to have the full Arc de Triomphe.
The Arc de Triomphe is the finish line for the real Tour de France, so chalk up a victory for Alan and Mark, since we got there 25 days before Lance Armstrong.

“There’s less stress in betting ‘em than owning ‘em.” Alan Kennedy

Alan should know. He was about to place a bet on the filly Turfani, racing in a 17 horse field of mostly boys. Alan once owned Turfani. Turfani has heart and loves to run but keeping her healthy is a most complex art, mastered by her trainer Gina Rarick.
Gina had Turfani ready to go the mile and a quarter on a fresh grey day that accentuated every imaginable shade of green, from the surrounding Boulogne forest, the track surface itself, softened from a morning shower, and the shimmering reflections in nearby lakes. Add to this the pastels of the jockey’s silks and the rows of flowers lining the grandstand railings and you have a sensorial feast.
Turfani got off a tad slow and rider Mathias Sautjeau urged her to hustle.
It’s the slow-start/rush-up phenomenon. Turfani, used to pressing the pace, suddenly felt it was time to make the move, and became the pace setter: too late to tell her to hold off for awhile. The lead is not the place to be on a soft surface at Longchamp.
She led well into the long stretch but finally the tsunami came at her from behind. The rider later told Gina, with remarkable frankness, that it was his fault for moving prematurely.
Months of Ghandian patience, health care worthy of a congressman, and even in Buckingham Palace they don’t nurse the sore legs into shape as well as they do in Turfani’s stable in Maisons-Laffitte … and then, poof, one split second mistake and you have to start the whole waiting process again.
So I lost my bet on Turfani at about 20-1 (the average odds of Gina’s horses) but her 46-1 winner in the Spring meant that I can absorb 45 straight losses and still be on top. I can wait without fretting. But for both owner and trainer, the tank of optimism needs to be refilled on a regular basis from a mysterious and resilient inner source that few human beings possess.
Fashion Statement:
Alan and I are unknown at the Parisian fashion shows and we would be scorned if we showed up, but today was our big chance to make a once-in-a-lifetime fashion statement. During the afternoon, we alternated between the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation collection, tee-shirts from the French League for the Protection of Horses, and the Gallop France polo shirts from the Gina Rarick stable. It took me 65 years to finally wear something with pride.
Next stage: Chantilly, possibly the most beautiful race course in the world. We’ll show you why tomorrow. Our plan is to take our bikes on the train to get out of the congested and polluted suburbs and cycle the rest through open country and forest.

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