This story is part of a larger feature on 10 do-gooders from Saratoga and the rest of the Capital Region. To meet the other nine honorees and purchase tickets for annual fundraising event, visit our Capital Region Gives Back event page.
Last June, a historic aftercare bill prohibiting owners of current and retired racehorses from sending them to slaughter swept through the New York State assembly and senate. Its next port of call? Governor Kathy Hochul’s desk, and she’s expected to sign it into law.
Would it surprise you, then, to learn that it’s the only bill of its kind in the country? In other words, in 49 states—and, technically, New York, until the governor signs the bill—it’s legal to sell a horse to a buyer you know is going to send it to a slaughterhouse. Maybe the most damning statistic is that, of the more than 30,000 American horses that meet that fate per year, roughly 7,500 are Thoroughbreds, per the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.
That stat is one that Old Friends at Cabin Creek, a Thoroughbred retirement farm in Greenfield Center, is trying to bring down to zero. “Aftercare is such an important part of Thoroughbreds’ lives,” says JoAnn Pepper, who runs the farm with her husband, Mark. “Their racing careers are a very small part of it—most retire between 5 and 7, and they can live into their 30s.”
That’s where 30-year-old Cabin Creek resident Zippy Chippy, a retired racehorse who’s best known for having lost all 100 of his races, enters the gate. Zippy has been instrumental in raising awareness about the importance of Thoroughbred aftercare and helping draw visitors to Cabin Creek (many of whom purchase Zippy-branded memorabilia). He’s even been the poster-horse for three billboards, advocating for aftercare in Massachusetts.
But while Zippy may be a bigger star in retirement than he ever was on the track, what ultimately matters is what he represents. Zippy is a reminder to every Cabin Creek visitor, volunteer and donor that all Thoroughbreds, whether they’re winners or losers, deserve a happy retirement.