On March 11, the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ & Owners’ Association held a silent and live auction for the Florida Thoroughbred Charities at the annual Horse of the Year Awards Gala. The auction raised $17,382 for the charity. The top selling item was donated by Kelly Tractor of South Florida, bringing $2,500 for a fishing trip in the Keys along with a vacation home stay. Two other live auction items included World Series tickets donated by the Yankees and a VIP stay the Sheridan Sand Key Resort in Clearwater Beach donated by Jack Guy.
The large silent auction also featured hospitality packages from restaurants across the state, attractions and hotels including the historic South Beach’s Clay Hotel on Española Way, which was donated by Ed Seltzer. In addition there was limited edition signed memorabilia including a rare Man O’ War photo donated by Rick Irwin of Belleview Veterinary and a limited edition print of 1956 Derby winner Needles, who put Ocala on the map for the Thoroughbred industry. The piece was donated by Bonnie Heath III. A rare European rocking horse donated by Valerie Dailey of Showcase properties and tickets on the 45 yard line to a Florida Gators game donated by First Dude at Double Diamond Farm and Mr & Mrs Donald Dizney also brought top dollar. Original artist Cocoa Beach artist Tina Powers and famed Ocala artist Mary Verrandeaux were also part of the auction. Verrandeaux also painted a piece “live” during the event.
“It went by far the best I've seen. We had great support from the community with donations pouring in. We also had a good mix of items for everyone to choose from. The bidding was brisk!” said George Russell, second vice president of FTBOA and chairman of the charity and social committee.
The most unique item of the evening was a Raku horse hair piece of pottery featuring hairs from the manes and tails of champions stakes-winning millionaires Carterista and Shake You Down and third place finisher in the 2008 Preakness Stakes - Hemingway’s Key. All three horses are celebrities at the Florida Retirement Farm – Carterista and Shake You Down are multiple graded stakes winners and Hemingway’s Key ran third in the 2006 Preakness Stakes, and they all reside as retirees and are “trainers” for the correctional inmates. The horses teach character building and the inmates learn horsemanship skills. The one of the kind hand thrown piece was made by well-known photographer Louise Reinagel and was completed specially for the event.Carterista is 28 years old so his hair when placed in the heat for the pottery creates a very thin, wispy pattern while the younger Shake You Down’s hair creates bold, thick lines.
The Florida Thoroughbred Charities funds scholarships for college students and the Florida Thoroughbred Retirement Farm at the Lowell Correctional Institute, along with other industry and local community programs including the Marion Cultural Alliance, the Florida Fillies, Boys and Girls Club among others.