Retired racehorses find new home at correction center

Dennis Tatz

Charlie Business, Energy Center, Future Fantasy and Red Miah are winning horses whose racing days ended. The four thoroughbreds, who earned a total of $450,802 during their careers, can now bask in their retirement years on the 90-acre Plymouth County Farm thanks to a program allowing inmates to care for them.

The horses arrived Tuesday for a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a little hoopla to welcome them to a former dairy barn that was renovated and turned into a stable.

“This is going to be one of the most positive and beneficial programs we have,” Sheriff Joseph D. McDonald Jr. said

McDonald said tending to the horses will help inmates prepare to assimilate back into society after paying for their crimes.

“This program, Second Chances, is aptly named,” the sheriff told those gathered for the event.

The sheriff’s department earlier this year got together with the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, Suffolk Downs and the Fields Family Foundation to form a partnership aimed at giving inmates vocational training and teaching them skills that could enable them to become grooms or work in other horse-related fields.

“This program represents a huge milestone for us,” said Diana Pikulski, executive director of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation. “We look forward to having a great relationship in Massachusetts.”

Founded in 1982, Pikulski’s organization’s began saving former racehorses from possible neglect, abuse and slaughter though a program established at the Wallkill Correction Facility in New York.

Similar programs have since sprung up in Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, South Carolina and Virginia.

Chip Tuttle, chief operating officer at Suffolk Downs, said Richard Fields, the East Boston racetrack’s principal owner since 2007, was determined to find homes for thoroughbreds whose racing days were behind them.

“This is really a special day,” said Fields, founder of the Fields Family Foundation. “We have a real commitment at Suffolk Downs to protect these athletes in their retirement. They are really an important part of our culture. I can’t think of a better use for them than to be part of a therapeutic program.”

Charlie Business, Energy Center, Future Fantasy and Red Miah will have neighbors.

They are Camden, Clancy, Pelli, Shorty and Chopper, five horses from the Boston Police Department's disbanded Mounted Unit that settled into new digs at the farm off Obery Street in July. The former Boston Police horse are available for search-and-rescue operations and crowd control.

The Patriot Ledger