For 2015, in recognition of their 25th anniversary, the Thoroughbred Charities of America has begun to honor individuals around the country for their contributions to the care of racehorses or the welfare of the people that care for them with an Award of Merit.
Each state’s Thoroughbred association was asked to nominate individuals to receive the inaugural award and the Minnesota Thoroughbred Association chose to honor Russ Rhone.
While Rhone runs one of the top breaking and training facilities in the upper Midwest and has worked with horses his entire life, his gruff exterior doesn’t give any indication of his giving nature.
What most racegoers do not know is that Rhone has, for many years, taken horses off the track and cared for them until Dr. Richard Bowman had a trailer full for the trip to his farm in North Dakota. This has been going on ever since Dr. Bowman began his rehab/rehome project nearly 20 years ago.
All these years Rhone has donated his time, space, feed and hay and did it because he cares about the horses and wants to make sure that they all get a shot at having a good life after racing. It was only this past summer that he received any type of financial compensation to defray some of that expense and only then because Bowman received a contribution to his non-profit that allowed him to reimburse Rhone a bit.
In accepting the award to a thunderous standing ovation, Rhone was typically brief and understated.
“I’m really not one for speeches,” said a clearly uncomfortable Rhone. “I just want to say, thank you. Thank you very much to everyone who has helped me, the horses and my business over the years.”
He concluded by thanking Bruce and Mary Malkerson on whose land the training facility sits and took his seat; to another well-earned ovation.