It was an evening of intrigue, excitement and promise as more than 200 supporters of the California Retirement Management Account (CARMA), a nonprofit dedicated to funding Thoroughbred aftercare, gathered at the Hilton Del Mar Hotel on Saturday, July 16 according to a Santa Anita Park press release. The “Chips All In” charity poker tournament raised more than $86,000 to help the organization provide financial aid to more than 20 nonprofits which rehabilitate, retrain and rehome off-track-thoroughbreds.
The soiree began with refreshing cocktails, exquisite Mexican cuisine catered by the Hilton and an assortment of delicious desserts. Guests perused the silent auction filled with highly desirable racing themed items such as paintings of California Chrome and American Pharoah, exclusive trackside experiences, signed sports memorabilia, gift certificates to Del Mar hotspots and equine care services. Eric Auckerman’s West Coasters Band set the mood with their upbeat cover songs and those in attendance mingled with owners, trainers, jockeys and horse racing enthusiasts.
At the conclusion of social hour, the ballroom doors opened and the Texas Hold’em poker tournament began. Participants and spectators hearts raced as the stakes grew with each hand. This year’s winner was Paul Martino, who won a weekend stay at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino along with dinner and theater tickets generously donated by MGM Resorts International.
“This is our final CARMA Cares poker tournament, so we’re very happy to have it go out on a high note,” said Executive Director Lucinda Mandella. “We’ve had a great nine year run with this event, but we’re looking forward to bringing something new to our supporters next year.”
Event proceeds were generated through sponsorships, ticket sales, donations and the silent auction. CARMA will use the funds to directly support its 501c3 aftercare partners and to help promote thoroughbreds in second careers. After such a successful fundraising event, CARMA is looking forward to the 2016 grant process, which begins in September. 2016 grants will be presented in December, during the Santa Anita Park Winter Meet.
The 2016 CARMA Cares Charity Fundraiser Platinum Sponsors included Bob & Jill Baffert, Madeline Auerbach, Jay Em Ess Stable, Chuck Winner and David Bienstock, Liberty Road Stables, Rancho San Miguel, Reddam Racing, Santa Anita Park, Purple Shamrock Racing, and US Ranger. Gold Sponsors included Mike Pegram, LRF Cares, Pamplemousse Grille, Double JH Stables, Jim and Janet Rome, Oakmont Ranch, and the Daily Racing Form. The Silver Sponsors were Harris Farms, Maureen Richardson CFP, Von Bluecher, Blea & Hunkin Inc., West Coast Feed, and CTBA. Table Sponsors included Haven Bloodstock, Meticulous Talent Management, Gary Stevens and Narvick International.