The organization is named after 1986 Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand, who was sold overseas after a lackluster stud career, reportedly sold for slaughter. Friends of Ferdinand, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, and currently the only Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance accredited organization in Indiana. The disposition of Ferdinand spurred some people to try and prevent other thoroughbreds from joining Ferdinand in the slaughter pipeline. The horses in our program are vetted at intake, given let down time, and have at least 30 days of professional retraining at our facility in Dayton, Ohio.
To dive deeper into what a horse experiences in our program, click here
Our Founder Story:
The founder story starts with two gentlemen named Jim. “The Jims” were horseplayers/bettors, one day they were at Hoosier Park in Anderson, IN, enjoying the races with a long-time thoroughbred breeder when they learned the fate of unsuccessful racehorses. In 2005, the outlook for an injured or slow thoroughbred leaving the track was not good, and “the Jims” decided to do something about it. That night, the concept of Friends of Ferdinand was born. “The Jims” established the business side of the non-profit, raising the seed money to start the organization amongst their friends.
Hoosier Park and the Indiana Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Alliance used to host a paddock sale every fall. The sales were open to the public, the minimum bid was low, and unsold horses were often gathered after the sale by the kill buyer. In 2005 “the Jims” bought every horse who didn’t receive a minimum bid; that marked the day they became horsemen. The catch was, they didn’t know much about caring for horses, much less transitioning retired thoroughbreds into second careers. This was also back before the days of zero-tolerance for steroid use, and the let-down for horses coming off the track was much harder for both the horse and the horse’s handlers. This is where Sara stepped in.
At the time she was a volunteer for CANTER, and she watched as the Jims saved four horses from the meat man: Riverman Council, Ghazi Rose, Ozark, and Cheersto Glory. After the sale, she walked up to “the Jims” shook their hand, congratulated them, and offered to help load their new horses onto the trailer. This is where it gets funny… they said, “Trailer? We thought we had a few weeks to come back and get the horses?” She replied, “No, the track is closing and they have to leave, with you, today."
The next week, She'd negotiated reduced rates for stalls in boarding stables around Indianapolis, and every evening she was back at the track picking up a horse and delivering it to its temporary home. She was planning to wish the horses luck and go back to her normal life, but she knew the horses needed her and the "Jims" needed someone to help them. And so it began.
Our Board of Directors: