The American Association of Equine Sports Preservation Spearheads Petition-Signing Effort to Preserve Hollywood Park and Other Race Tracks

PR Newswire

ARCADIA, Calif., Nov. 1, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Horse racing's biggest weekend takes place this Friday, November 1st and Saturday, November 2nd, and Allison Booth, president and founder of The American Association of Equine Sports Preservation (AAESP), is in the thick of it all.

Racing will take place at beautiful Santa Anita Park, the oldest racetrack in the "Great Race State" of California. Excitement is building, not only for the results of The Breeder's Cup, but in anticipation of which horses may be invited to participate in the ultimate challenge, The Dubai World Cup. Dubai is a booming and glamorous tourist destination for horse racing where the finest thoroughbreds and jockeys compete for some of today's most expensive races – and it is the gateway to the Middle East.

Ms. Booth, whose horse-racing and horse-related career spans four continents, said this year's 30th running of the Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park is a "fantastic time" to educate the race-going public and elite about why they should join forces to preserve one of racing's treasured race tracks, the nearby Hollywood Park, and other tracks throughout the U.S. and world.

To save Hollywood Park and the beautiful rare flamingos known as the "Breeder's Flock" that reside at the park, Booth is gathering thousands of signatures for a petition. Her goal is to have 10,000 signatures to present to the National Trust by January 2, 2014. To sign the petition, go to: http://conta.cc/16QpyWY.

"It's my hope that working together, we can create strength in numbers to preserve a rare bit of history – a glorious racing track that provides many jobs and a very special flock of pink flamingos descending from the original Hialeah flock flamingos," she said. The Breeder's Flock is related to the famed flamingos at Hialeah Park Race Track in Florida, which has been listed as one of the top 11 Most Endangered Historic Places by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Now, Hialeah Park is being recognized as a national treasure and recently opened a new high-tech casino.  

"Hollywood Park is an iconic track with roots going back to the early, glamorous, heady days of racing – yet it still has a modern day mission, to save horses and human lives by providing jobs. Equally important, horses can help our most vulnerable populations bring balance into their lives,'" said Booth. In addition, Booth said the general consensus is that Hollywood Park is a much "kinder track to train on" for horses – yet another reason in favor of its preservation.

On October 29, 2013, Booth, who frequently speaks of her own life's experiences with horses, gave a passionate testimonial about the tremendous value that retired horses can provide to humans by learning a second career. Programs such as the Saratoga Warhorse Foundation in Saratoga Springs, New York, which utilizes retired race horses to provide an equine assisted experience for our veterans, prove the power of "horses to heal," she said.

Horses not only have incredible entertainment value, said Booth, but they have a power to address the growing crisis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (known as "PTSD") among veterans, including women, as well as children with autism and others with developmental challenges. Booth said, "Suicide rates within the military are the highest in history. Every 66 minutes, a veteran takes his or her own life, which equates to 22 veterans a day. They don't have the coping skills to live with PTSD and that is what the horses can teach them."

"The international racing community must embrace our collective potential – the combined talents of humans and horses – to address the challenges in our world today. And what location is better suited for these healing programs than our treasured race tracks and stables," she said.

Booth's remarks earned her the support of legendary Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg who also served as auctioneer at the Legends event hosted by TROTT (Training Racehorses Off the Track). Van Berg urged everyone at the gathering to sign Booth's petition.

Recalling its grand history, Booth said that during its racing heyday, Hollywood Park played host to some of the nation's greatest horses: Seabiscuit, Citation and Seattle Slew. It is the oldest and widest turf track course in the country. 

To raise awareness for her new organization and its mission, Booth has supported several benefits across the United States. On August 19, 2013, as its first project, AAESP supported a "Thank You to Sponsors" Gala hosted by the Saratoga WarHorse Foundation at the Fasig-Tipton Sales Pavilion in Saratoga Springs, NY days before the Travers Stakes. Anthony Kearns of The Irish Tenors performed. "Will Take Charge" won impressively with Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lucas and then went on to win the Pennsylvania Derby and is here to face older rivals in the $5 million Breeder's Cup Classic.

Just last week, AAESP supported a benefit in Washington, D.C. for The Coalition to Salute America's Heroes, an organization that provides direct assistance to wounded veterans. The event, co-hosted by the National Democratic Club and Veterans and Military Families for Progress, featured Kearns, legendary news anchor Paul Berry and special guest, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI), one of only two female combat veterans in Congress. The next day, AAESP supported a high-level gala to honor leading Virginia nonprofits. Final Salute, Inc. which assists homeless female veterans and other projects to promote human excellence received recognition from Virginia's First Lady.

The mission of The American Association of Equine Sports Preservation is to protect the historical, cultural and economic value of equestrian sports, and related industries, throughout the world in recognition of the innumerable contributions of horses to mankind over centuries. www.aaesp.org

SOURCE The American Association of Equine Sports Preservation

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