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Thoroughbreds could go from racecourse to Allegheny County Police force

Theresa Clift
PTRThoroughbred05012417
B & D Photography
UptownBoy, a former racehorse at Penn National Race Course in Dapuphin County, has been offered to the Allegheny County Police Department’s mounted unit.
PTRthoroughbred04012417
B & D Photography
Five Four Three Twone, a former racehorse at Penn National Race Course in Dapuphin County, has been offered to the Allegheny County Police Department’s mounted unit.

Three thoroughbred racehorses from Penn National could soon become the newest members of Allegheny County Police’s mounted unit.

After the retirement last year of two horses — King and Dickerson — the unit was down to eight. Now, with the donation of the three horses, the force is set to have 11.

All three horses — Uptown Boy, Andy Boys Rabe and Five Four Three Twone — were racehorses ridden by jockeys at Penn National Race Course in Grantville, Dauphin County.

The horses, which range in age from 4 to 8, stayed at Bright Futures Farm, a Crawford County nonprofit, for about three weeks before they were sent to the county, said Bev Dee, executive director of Bright Futures.

The county’s police horses, used mostly for crowd control and school visits, normally are donated, but this the first time the donation has come from Bright Futures. It’s also the first time Bright Futures has donated horses to any law enforcement program, but it likely won’t be the last, Dee said.

“I was approached by Xpressbet, out of Washington, Pa., to partner in a program where we place horses in law enforcement,” Dee said. “We’re really excited about it.”

The Allegheny County donation is the first to come out of that partnership, Dee said.

“(The program) pulls more horses off the track and into homes, which is exactly what our purpose is,” Dee said.

Xpressbet plans to donate all expenses related to the care of the horses, including vet services, medical records, pre-adoption boarding costs and the cost of their transportation, according to materials provided to the committee.

Uptown Boy comes with accolades. In 2013, the chestnut-colored horse was voted best 2-year-old male thoroughbred in the state — a title based on points earned and races won, Dee said.

The horses were sent to the county Dec. 9 for training, Dee said.

Citing county policy, Allegheny County spokeswoman Amie Downs declined to verify whether the county received the horses Dec. 9 — more than a month before it was sent to County Council — or answer other questions about the donation until after Wednesday, when the council’s Public Safety Committee is set to meet.

“We’re not going to answer questions related to the donation until council has the opportunity to ask its question in the committee meeting,” Downs said in an email.

The public safety committee could send it back to the full council for approval.

If county council votes against accepting the donation, the horses would be sent back to Bright Futures, Dee said.

Theresa Clift is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-5669 or [email protected].

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