Wimberley, TX – November 25, 2015 – LoneStar Outreach to Place Ex-Racers (LOPE), a Wimberley-based nonprofit devoted to retraining and rehoming ex-racehorses, was the recipient of a generous donation by Bob and Jill Baffert of a gorgeous leather halter worn by Triple Crown and Grand Slam winner American Pharoah.
The Bafferts donated the halter in honor of Wooden Phone, a winner of over $800K who was trained by Mr. Baffert. Wooden Phone was donated to LOPE in 2007 by his racing owners, Tom Durant and Jim Helzer. He was adopted by Suzanne Minter, a talented classical dressage rider and LOPE staffer. Under Ms. Minter’s careful tutelage, Wooden Phone has shown wonderful talent at dressage and made a highly successful show debut at age eighteen.
Jill Baffert said, “We’re happy to see he is healthy and thriving and living the good life! Thank you for all you’ve done for him and all of the horses who you and LOPE have cared for over the years. You all are the unsung heroes of racing and we are grateful for all of the time, energy and love you dedicate to what you do. I dream one day the industry will have a system and logistics in place to take care of every single horse, as I know you do, too.”“You all are the unsung heroes of racing and we are grateful for all of the time, energy and love you dedicate to what you do. I dream one day the industry will have a system and logistics in place to take care of every single horse, as I know you do, too.” — Jill Baffert
LOPE originally planned to sell the halter at auction to raise funds for the horses under their care. Instead, a special group of sponsors donated to endow the halter for permanent display at LOPE. Mrs. Janice McNair of Houston, TX gave the inaugural donation and her generous support launched the creation of the endowment group.
Mrs. McNair and her husband Robert are the former owners of Stonerside Stables. She commented, “Bob and I so appreciate the efforts of Lynn Reardon and LOPE. Through this wonderful program, thoroughbred horses receive a second career and another “win-win” for them and their lucky owners.”
The American Pharoah Endowment Group at LOPE includes Janice McNair, Austin Community Foundation, John Moritz, Scrivener Stables and Tom Durant (Wooden Phone’s former race owner). LOPE is excited and honored by the strong support from the racing community for the endowment!“Bob and I so appreciate the efforts of Lynn Reardon and LOPE. Through this wonderful program, thoroughbred horses receive a second career and another “win-win” for them and their lucky owners” — Janice McNair
By displaying the halter and integrating it into public education programs, LOPE hopes to instill an enthusiasm for the beauty and heart of ex-racehorses. “We were thrilled to receive such a wonderful donation from Bob and Jill Baffert! All of us at LOPE have followed American Pharoah’s incredible racing career with excitement and awe. We can’t thank the endowment group enough for allowing us to keep and display his halter as the important piece of racing history it represents,” commented Lynn Reardon, LOPE’s Executive Director.
The funds from the LOPE American Pharoah Endowment Fund will be used to retrain and rehome especially deserving Thoroughbred ex-racehorses into new homes and successful post-track careers. “Every ex-racehorse can be a champion, even after the track,” said Reardon. “At LOPE, we have seen so many horses bring all of the same heart, intelligence and athleticism to their new disciplines as they showed during racing. We love watching them grow into second careers with success and happiness — just like Wooden Phone.”
The American Pharoah halter will make its debut public appearance at a prestigious, benefit screening of Harry and Snowman on December 20 at the Angelika Film Center in Plano, TX. The acclaimed documentary depicts the story of Harry deLeyer and his famous horse Snowman. Harry bought the slaughter-bound horse for $80 — and Snowman repaid him by becoming one of the most successful show jumping champions ever.
This one-of-a-kind event will be the only screening of Harry and Snowman in Texas. The VIP reception and 4:10 pm showing of the film will benefit LOPE and The Snowman Rescue Fund. The American Pharoah halter will be on hand for display and photo opportunities during the VIP reception for the screening and benefit.
Tickets are now on sale and can be ordered online. Options include VIP Reception (with screening) and General Admission. Special sponsorship packages are also available; see our special screening page for details. Tickets are selling quickly, so everyone is encouraged to purchase as early as possible.
LOPE (“LoneStar Outreach to Place Ex-Racers”) is a 501©(3) nonprofit founded in 2003 to help ex-racehorses transition from the track via retraining, rehabilitation and rehoming. LOPE also provides ongoing clinics, lessons and seminars to help educate the public about the advantages and pleasures that come with owning ex-racehorses. LOPE is an accredited organization by the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance.