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California Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Foundation Provides Much Needed Services at Racetracks

California Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Foundation (CTHF), a Thoroughbred Charities of America (TCA) grantee, was started in 1979 by Joe McAnally because of his concern about the high cost of dentistry for backstretch workers. At the time Joe McAnally was with the California Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, and within five years the startup became its own organization.

“We moved into primary care in the mid 90’s when a larger 5,000 square foot facility was built on the grounds of Santa Anita Park,” said Cliff Goodrich, Executive Director of the CTHF.  “The facility, along with clinics at Los Alamitos and Golden Gate Fields, now provides medical, dental and optometry care. We are not an insurance company.  We are a charitable foundation.  Most backstretch workers cannot afford insurance and we help them with their healthcare needs not only at our clinics, but also through Provider Agreements with outside doctors, dentists and imaging facilities. We’re the provider workers look to as a first stop for whatever ails them.”

The program offers extremely discounted rates to not only the workers but also their families. “We have a maximum of $500 for any medical incident that occurs, even if the bill is a million dollars the patient in the end only pays the $500,” said Goodrich. “As long as the person is licensed and working, they and their spouse and children, are eligible. When we deal with outside providers, we collect a small copayment from the workers, so that the providers don’t have to hassle with copayments or insurance billings.  We find that outside providers welcome such simplicity.

The low rates offered at the clinic are only available due to the statutory funding we receive through racing law in California, with racing associations, racing Fairs, owners and trainers all taking a smaller slice of certain portions of the pari-mutuel handle.  Funding from organizations like the TCA, add additional funding which helps support our entire operation.  “We’re small, with less than a $2 million budget,” said Goodrich. “When you have a doctor and dental staff at three clinics seeing around 6,000 patients a year, two million dollars doesn’t go very far. All donations and grants are important, we couldn’t provide the services we do without them.”

In the wake of the COVID 19 crisis, with most racing halted in California, CTHF has seen a decrease in funding.  “The entire Industry is severely challenged during this difficult time.  I have found that during such crises, the Industry always seems to come together.  This crisis is no exception.  Hopefully, when the crisis passes, we can all remember that when we come together, good things happen,” said Goodrich.

“Happier workers lead to happier horses, and we believe that,” said Goodrich. “These people are hard-working and take care of the most expensive assets at any racetrack, they deserve affordable healthcare health care and a better quality of life.”