State will consider housing retired horses at Vandalia Correctional Center

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By Rich Bauer, Managing Editor

Action that would allow the Vandalia Correctional Center to host a Thoroughbred horse groomer program is going through the legislative process in the state capital.

But an Illinois Department of Corrections source said discussions on such a program are only in the infancy stage.

An Illinois House of Representatives committee last Wednesday unanimously passed a House resolution presented by state Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Highland).

Stephens was accompanied by Larry Brooks, executive director of the Illinois Horseman’s Benevolent and Protective Association Inc. as he presented House Resolution 309, which calls for Illinois race horses to be housed at VCC after their racing careers are over.

In passing the resolution, the committee gave official encouragement of the horse grooming program to the IDOC.

The group represented by Brooks says it will fund the program.

Vandalia Correctional Center is being considered for the program because it has more than 1,300 acres of land that were formerly used for farming operations.

Derek Schnapp, an IDOC spokesman, said on Wednesday, that the agency is considering allowing such a program at VCC.

“We’re excited about the opportunities, about the probabilities,” Schnapp said.

“We will continue to work with these groups,” he said.

At this point, the discussions can only be considered preliminary, he said.

“There is no deadline and no timetable for this,” Schnapp said.