In the aftermath of the first ever DerbyWars $20,000 Live Game, players referred to the event as 'first class', but in reality it was the players who were truly first class. Former Southern California trainer turned professional horse player Brent Sumja, displayed utmost class by making the most of his third place prize money. Sumja made a pregame commitment to donate half of his winnings to one particular thoroughbred aftercare organization, Second Stride.
Second Stride specializes in the rehabilitation, retraining and location of permanent placement for retired thoroughbreds. When horses finish their tenure at Second Stride, they are adopted by caring horse lovers. Brent (Pictured on the right) decided on this organization based on his past experience in racing.
Early in his career, Brent Sumja moved to Louisiana to grow his horse racing knowledge and eventually became an assistant to Tom Amoss. When he went out on his own, Sumja trained as many as seventy-eight horses at once, had a 20% strike rate and won multiple graded stakes races in his fifteen year stint.
"I have been passionate about this ever since I trained," said Sumja. "We always found them a solid home before we would let them go. This means sometimes footing the bills for months, but it's the right thing. Now, as a gambler, I feel the same obligation. Whether we make a living from them or get great entertainment, they deserve to be taken care of in their after careers. My dream is that when a player wins a big tournament, it becomes an honor to be the one who gets to donate a nice chunk to the aftercare. Forget the buying everyone a round of drinks.....buy better lives for the horses that made you the big score!"
After a third place finish, Sumja earned $3,000, half of which going towards Second Stride. The money raised will go a very long way to assist the facility in their efforts. After his successful tournament and selfless donation, Horse Racing Nation's Brian Zipse, Josh Frederick, and Ember Marr traveled to Second Stride's farm located a few miles outside of Louisville to find out more.
Check out this video featuring Second Stride Founder Kim Smith!
This is one of many huge steps Brent Sumja has taken in regards to thoroughbred aftercare awareness. The team at DerbyWars, along with the entire handicapping community, applauds Brent for an incredible gesture. If you would like to donate to Second Stride or learn more information, please visit them at secondstride.org