Thoroughbred Charities of America (TCA) was founded in 1990 by racehorse owners Herb and Ellen Moelis, of CandyLand Farm in Delaware, and the late Allaire duPont, who campaigned the great gelding Kelso.   Mr. Moelis is a retired New York CPA and tax attorney.   Mr. Moelis and Mrs. Moelis are still actively involved with TCA, as the president and secretary, respectively.

TCA’s mission statement is concise and unambiguous:   “To provide a better life for Thoroughbreds, both during and after their racing careers by supporting retirement, rescue, and research and by helping the people who work with them.”

More specifically, TCA makes grants in five sectors:

  • “Thoroughbred rescues, rehabilitation, retraining, adoption, retirement, and euthanasia.
  • Backstretch workers, including disabled jockeys, farm and track employees with little or no medical coverage and child care for them while working.
  • Equine educational organizations, including those who provide equine-based scholarships and those who utilize Thoroughbreds in their educational programs.
  • Therapeutic riding programs, which include the use of Thoroughbreds in their programs.
  • Research into equine diseases and ailments.”

TCA specifies that its “primary” focus is on the first item above and its grants are made accordingly.   In 2009, TCA awarded $879,547 to 86 nonprofits.  Last year, it provided nearly $1.6 million and of this 46% went to the rescue and care of retired Thoroughbreds.   Since its inception, TCA has given over $15 million to some 200 nonprofits in 36 states.  To illustrate the diversity of the recipients, a sampling of these nonprofits are the Backstretch Education Fund,  Belmont Child Care, Fieldstone Farm Therapeutic Riding Center,  New Bolton Center, New York Horse Rescue, and Race Track Chaplaincy.   TCA’s widespread geographical outreach makes it a truly national organization.

TCA is sustained by gifts of money, items, and services.   However, the bulk of its cash flow comes from an annual stallion service and art auction.   The 20th edition is scheduled for December 7-9, 2009 at Keeneland.   Donors offer stallion seasons and art objects that TCA sells.   The past three years have resulted in gross proceeds of $1.3 million in 2008, $2.3 million in 2007, and $2.1 million in 2006.

In 2008, TCA became an affiliate, or supporting organization, of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association.    Earlier this year, the Jockey Club instituted a matching-funds program that supplies money to TCA and the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation for the care of retired racehorses.   The Jockey Club matches, up to $200,000, the funds collected through its voluntary check-off option on foal registrations.   The Breeders’ Cup announced in June that it will assist TCA in its fundraising efforts by promoting TCA and encouraging fan contributions during the 2009 World Championships at Santa Anita Park. 

The tried and proven philanthropic model employed by TCA is the United Way approach, in which a central charity raises funds for allocation to other nonprofits that fall within its mission.   This procedure frees individual and corporate donors from having to personally delve into the worthiness of various charities that call upon them.   With TCA, racing-industry participants can delegate the due-diligence task to a trusted charity.

For example, in 2009, TCA assumed day-to-day management of Fasig-Tipton’s Blue Horse Charities and accredits its grants.   Blue Horse Charities, started by the late John A. Hettinger, gets its funds from voluntary contributions by Fasig-Tipton buyers and sellers, which are 100% matched by the auction company.   Blue Horse Charities this week announced awards of $218,685 to 52 non-profit Thoroughbred adoption and retraining centers.  These grants were awarded on the basis of the number of newly retired racehorses a nonprofit  placed into permanent homes.

TCA is a highly efficient steward of its financial supporters’ contributions.   The organization has only one paid employee, its executive director Elizabeth Harris, who is leaving shortly to become the vice president of communications at Churchill Downs, Inc.   By severely limiting overhead, TCA is able to grant 96 cents for every dollar it receives.   This is an outstanding percentage as compared to the vast majority of philanthropic institutions.

The TCA 18-person board of directors is comprised of very capable individuals, with longtime interests in the Thoroughbred enterprise, who volunteer their time and expertise.   Although TCA is headquartered in Midway, Kentucky, near Lexington, not all members of the board reside in the Bluegrass state.  

IRS-certified 501 (c) 3 groups seeking grants from TCA must make written applications and then are thoroughly vetted.   The TCA board begins to review applications in April and decisions are made and funds distributed before the end of June.

TCA has been eminently successful in making for a better life for countless former racehorses and numerous people who work in the racing industry.   This has been possible, of course, because of the generosity of individuals and companies that have contributed their money, possessions, and time.

TCA’s monetary support might assist:   a Down-Syndrome child to enhance his or her sense of self-esteem in a therapeutic riding program that also gives a new lease on life to an otherwise unwanted horse; or a permanently disabled jockey desperately in need of the wherewithal to get by; or a prison inmate who learns to trust and care by grooming a retired racehorse.  

Outcomes like these are the raison d’etre for Thoroughbred Charities of America.

Copyright © 2009 Horse Racing Business


Contact Information: 

Thoroughbred Charities of America, P. O. Box 3856, Midway, KY 40347


(Special thanks to Liz Harris ( for providing information for this profile.)


  1. tina tisdale says

    good imfo. wanted to see if anyone knew any imfo about a mare named nannies dinner back in tha early 90s. feel in love with her and saw her run at oaklawn and lonestar. please email me at thank you for all you do for these beautiful babies.