California took a first step toward helping more horses after their racing years with the final approval of a new fund to support the state’s equine retirement facilities.

During a meeting held Dec. 14 in Inglewood, the California Horse Racing Board approved the creation of the California Retirement Management Account. Under a plan backed by the Thoroughbred Owners of California, 0.3% of net purses will be deducted from owners’ accounts to fund CARMA. Owners have the option to decline the deduction.

TOC chairman Marsha Naify said that the new fund could be up and running by Del Mar’s meet, which starts in late July. “We’re going to educate our owners that this change is coming while we work out all the details,” she said.

TOC president Drew Couto estimated that $200,000 could be raised through the deduction each year if half the owners participate. More than 140 TOC members signed a petition in support of CARMA.

About 2,000 Thoroughbreds each year run their final race in California, Couto said. Most go on to second careers, usually in breeding. Others find homes as pets or become sport horses.

“We’re talking about those unwanted horses or horses unsuitable for a second career,” Couto said. “This fund will help those horses.”

About 300 horses currently make their homes at retirement farms in California, including 100 at Tranquility Farm in Tehachapi.

“The CARMA program is designed to serve the working class horse that really pulls the weight of the industry,” said Priscilla Clark, Tranquility Farm’s president. “Currently, we’re funded almost entirely by private philanthropy and fund raising.

“Could we do more? Absolutely,” she added. “This creates the infrastructure that could take care of some of the problem. If we could increase the number of horses at our farm by 10 or 15%, we would hav