Race for Adoption
Program History and Overview
By Dennis McKeon
RaceForAdoption was a pipe dream of mine, conjured up one day, after I had perused the pedigree of the great Irish racer, Late Late Show.....who raced his entire career for charity, and was owned by the celebrity host of the TV program of the same name.
Having a greyhound race for the direct support of adoption groups seemed to me to be an idea whose time had arrived - maybe was even overdue...but I had to find a greyhound, a track-ready sapling....so I supposed....who had showed some promise - and who was affordable.
My idea was to purchase the pup myself, or with another, and then sell shares to defray the expense - and then lease the greyhound to a good kennel at a good racetrack, and give the greyhound's race earnings to an adoption group(s).
At that point I enlisted the aid of Martin Roper, another pedigree buff, and a frequent and erudite contributor to the greyhound internet boards. I knew to be able to pull this off, I would need someone who is everything I am not - organized, adept at paperwork, and knowledgeable about the legalities and regulations concerning the formation of a consortium, or syndicate....I really didn't know which. Martin jumped at the opportunity to be of service to the group we were about to form, and to the breed, as he always does.
I contacted Larry Birnbaum, the owner of C&C Kennels, and of the sensational young sire, Craigie Whistler. I had hoped that Larry, an outgoing and pleasant person, with whom I had engaged in several very interesting discussions about bloodlines, might have heard of someone who was maybe looking to sell a pup from a promising litter.
When I explained what I had in mind, Larry, amazingly, said that he would be tickled to death to give us a sapling, and it would be the best sapling in his breeding program. This was Whistler’s Stud, who had two well-performed full-siblings already at the races, and holding their own at Wheeling--- the track which has the highest purses in the nation, and is likewise as competitive.
Stud was a schooling sensation on the C&C farm in Texas, and was about to be sent to Kansas to finish up with his race training.
I couldn’t believe our good fortune. Not only had we found a pup to race for adoption, but the pup was not going to cost us anything, and we could use any monies generated from the sale of shares in him, to give in a lump sum to the adoption groups we had chosen to help.
Pam Davis’ SEGA group, which serves the racing community on the Florida panhandle, at Monticello….and Penny Zwart’s Pups Without Partners, located at Shoreline Star in Bridgeport, Connecticut, were the logical choices.
They are each highly accomplished adoption professionals, who are not antagonistic toward racing or racing folk. And they are often on the message boards, answering questions of all sorts about the greyhounds, adoption, and their lives before, during and after racing.
Meanwhile, Martin and I had gone forward on the Global Greyhounds, Greytalk and Roo & Rant boards, with the idea, and the suggestion that anyone who wanted to be a partner in the ownership consortium, could purchase a share for $100. We had hoped to sell a couple of dozen shares or so, thinking that we could make a nice contribution, at once, to the 2 groups.
The response was shocking, to say the least. We were literally besieged with inquiries and donations for shares, so much so, that we immediately perceived that we might easily sell 50 shares. When we appraised Larry of that situation, he offered to match the dollars raised, up to the sale of 100 shares. Which meant, that if we were able to sell $10K worth of shares, we would soon have $20K to donate to SEGA and PWP, before our pup had even set foot on the track at Wheeling…..which was where he was slated to begin his career.
The good and caring people who frequent the internet message boards did not let us down. They purchased shares, some in multiples, and they volunteered to help, and become part of RaceForAdoption….. and they understood when it became legally impossible to actually form a true ownership consortium…..and due to the legal and licensing complications that would ensue, we were, as RaceForAdoption, only able to sponsor the racing career of a greyhound.
RaceForAdoption was always a work in progress, and we were writing our own version of “Racing 101” as we went along. It was soon to become even more realistic, with the onset of severe kennel cough throughout many areas in the nation, and the subsequent quarantine of the racetracks. No dogs were able to come in or out----and Wheeling was no exception.
So we had reached a state of inertia, as Whistler’s Stud arrived in Kansas to undertake the final phases of his training----with no end in sight to the quarantine, and no idea as to when he would actually be able begin to race in earnest.
Larry, ever the one to sense an opportunity, and not content to wait for events to sort themselves out, offered us Stud’s already accomplished sibling, Whistler’s Betty, as a stand-in for Whistler’s Stud….so that we would begin to see results from our project, and not be left in the limbo of the quarantine.
Betty responded to the challenge of her new career, as the first-ever greyhound to race for adoption, by winning at first asking…..and thereafter either winning or earning a paycheck for adoption, in most of her races.
At that point, Whistler’s Stud started to tail off in his training performances, to a marked degree. So much so, that it was decided to restart him from square one. Racing 101 rears its fickle head again!
Larry was then kind enough to offer up Whistler’s Betty as the permanent replacement for her little brother…..and as Martin said, we were compelled to make an “executive decision” on behalf of RaceForAdoption, and simply thank the man.
So, in a few months, we had gone from an idea to purchase a pup----to being given a valuable and extremely talented, proven Grade A class racer at the top track in the nation. It was too good to be true, and yet it was.
Shoreline Star had its annual adoption informational expo in late August, and though Larry and Martin could not attend….Penny was insistent that Bob Fine, (who, along with Angela Wilson-Taylor, is a prime coordinator for the project) and I both attend.
You can imagine my surprise when I found out that the 4th, 5th and 6th races that day were named after Larry, Martin and myself, and that RaceForAdoption was a featured topic of both the racing program, and the presentations made that day.
We received special presentations and plaudits from the track announcer and from Penny and Shoreline after “our” races were run…..Bob stood in for the others. It was a most memorable and wonderful experience.
As we stand today, RaceForAdoption is still a work in progress….and still open to any feasible opportunity to enlist other greyhounds whose careers are dedicated to the future well being of their greyhound cousins.
We will continue to update the website, hoping that Racforadoption supporters will begin to use it to interact, network and to add whatever they might to the project….as it wouldn’t ever have happened without them.
Special Request To All Viewers
This program would not be possible without the financial support and commitment to adoption by the owners and kennels. We respectfully request that no direct contact be made with any of the owners or kennels. Any questions or comments about any of the RaceForAdoption hounds can be posted in the "Questions and Comments" section of the Community Forum and we will do our best to answer questions.