Q&A with FLTAP

Where is Finger Lakes Thoroughbred Adoption Program (FLTAP) based?

FLTAP is located on the grounds of Finger Lakes Racetrack in Farmington, New York. Finger Lakes Race Track is about a 20 minute drive from downtown Rochester, NY. We are the first and only Thoroughbred adoption program located on the grounds of a racetrack in North America.

How did your program begin?

Discussion between Finger Lakes horsemen and management led to a mutual desire to take a more active approach in providing owners and trainers with trusted resources in finding homes for those Thoroughbreds that had reached the end of their racing years. Those conversations led to the founding of a jointly funded formal program between track management and the Finger Lakes Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association in 2006. In 2007, with the help of several others we were able to take the program further with the construction of a dedicated facility to assist in the placement of retired Thoroughbreds into new homes or careers.

Delaware North Companies, the parent company of Finger Lakes Gaming and Racetrack, donated the two acres of land on which the facility is located. The construction was made possible through $60,000 in state funding secured by New York State Senator Michael F. Nozzolio, as well a grant from the American Humane Association. A significant amount of additional funding was generously provided by Wanda Polisseni, the principal of Purple Haze Stables, which led to the building being named the Purple Haze Center in her honor.

What makes FLTAP unique?

There are several unique things about Finger Lakes Thoroughbred Adoption Program, Inc. We are located on the grounds of a racetrack with a 16-stall barn, indoor training arena, and six paddocks.
Our Board of Directors consists of Finger Lakes Racetrack management personnel and Finger Lakes Horsemen and Horsewomen.
After an approved adopter has a Thoroughbred placed with them, we follow the progress of the horse and new owner for a year with 3, 6, and 12 month paper work and photos.
Even after the one year follow-up, we will take the horse back should circumstances change for the adopter and they can no longer take care of the horse or it turns out not to be the right fit.
Our barn is open to the public daily from 9 am to 3pm. Having an array of different ages visiting the barn assists the horse into acclimating to being around or experiencing different situations than they are accustomed to.
We have a full time trainer, who works with the horses and evaluates their ability to go on to a second career or a pasture mate.
FLTAP has volunteers who have been with us for more than 10 years.
We offer a unique experience for college students. Finger Lakes racetrack personnel will spend 3 – 4 days with the student in various operational areas, i.e. – the racing office, the stewards, announcer, placing judges and accounting. This gives the student a well rounded look into careers in the racing industry.
Adopters have so enjoyed our service that even 10 years later we are still getting updates about the horse they adopted.

What happens when a horse is accepted into your program?

When a trainer or owner decides that their Thoroughbred is ready to retire, they will fill out a surrender form (basically turning the horse over to our program). There is a $300 placement fee. We will then give the horse two weeks to adjust to being a horse again and getting used to the barn, our workers and volunteers. New horses will be seen by our equine dentist.
After two weeks, our trainer/barn manager will start with groundwork and either Western or English riding. She will post pictures on our website or our Facebook page to alert potential adopters.

Do you work with other locations or farms in your program?

We have worked with the local humane society in the Rochester area – Lollipop Farm and have accepted transfers from other rescues over the years. Since adding a full time trainer to the program, we have a farther reach from just locally to nationwide.

Do you require new owners to do reporting?

Yes, new owners are required to submit paperwork every 3, 6, and 12 months with photos of the horse without a blanket. We stress that we are here to assist new owners as we want to make sure this adoption is the right fit for both horse and human.

How many horses have gone through your program?

We have assisted with the retirement of about 800 retired Thoroughbreds since our opening in 2006. 2021 was a record year for us with 54 adoptions.

How does FLTAP receive funding?

Our funding is unique in that the Finger Lakes Horsemen contribute $2.50 for every horse that starts at Finger Lakes Racetrack and Finger Lakes Racing Association, Inc. contributes $2.00 for every start.
We are accredited by the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance and receive grant monies through that accreditation.
The Thoroughbred Charities of America grant and ASPCA grants are another funding source.
Donations from people around the state of New York and beyond are especially helpful throughout the year.

If people want to help your program, what can they do?

Donations of used tack/blankets, auction items, or monetary donations for hay, bedding, peppermints and dental/medical visits are always much appreciated. Visit our website, or send to our mailing address:

PO Box 25043
Farmington, NY 14425

To learn about other thoroughbred retirement programs, click here.