Sorella, Alagna, Partners Step Up

Published: January 7, 2016 02:31 pm EST

Standardbred racehorse owner Adriano Sorella was sickened when he saw the tragic events at Classy Lane unfold via the news and social media earlier this week. With the help of trainer Tony Alagna, the resident of Milton, Ont. did not waste any time touching base with some major industry players to make their co-ordinated response swift and impactful.

Sorella, who tasted both Little Brown Jug and O’Brien Award glory in 2013 with Vegas Vacation, has worked with Alagna in an effort to help get trainers affected by the deadly blaze back on their feet.

“I was in Florida when I first caught wind of what was going on,” Sorella told Trot Insider. “I had been out for dinner that night, but when I got back I started checking social media and checking the news and my heart just sunk.

“I was on a flight back to Toronto when it became apparent to me that it (the fire and the resulting tragedy) could happen to anyone. None of these people went to bed that night thinking this could ever be possible, and they woke up to their worst nightmare. I personally feel bad for everyone, from the owners to the grooms, to, obviously, the trainers involved.”

Sorella told Trot Insider that he and Alagna figured that some sort of crowdsourced fundraising initiative would quickly spring up, and he was right. An official GoFundMe page by the Central Ontario Standardbred Association has raised more than $111,000 in less than two days (for complete information, click here).

“Tony and I started thinking that maybe we could try to get something going in terms of equipment,” Sorella said. “When you start thinking about how many pieces of equipment you need to run a training operation, and how much those pieces of equipment cost in total, it can be staggering. Sometimes people take that for granted, but it is quite a large expense.”

The duo came to the conclusion that they could help trainers restock equipment via a particular avenue. Sorella told Trot Insider that he is aware that Jackie Panko is spearheading an equipment / stable-supplies drive to help affected trainers, but he and his partners are taking a different approach with their equipment initiative.

“What Tony and I did was reach out to Walsh Products and Pennsbury Enterprises in order to get a bulk/discount on purchasing some equipment for the victims of the fire,” Sorella explained. “Tony made calls to a number of people who all pledged funds to purchase new racing harnesses and jog carts.”

Alagna and Sorella have pledged funds to purchase the new equipment, as have Myron Bell, Albert Crawford, Michelle Crawford, Alagna Racing & Partners, Brittany Farms, Walsh Products and Pennsbury Enterprises.

Alagna told Trot Insider that if other parties are interested in directing capital towards the venture, they are more than welcome to join the initiative, but that the funds will solely be for the purchasing the new gear.

“When I stop and think about the last 48-72 hours, I see so many people doing anything possible to help out,” said Sorella. “I guess you can say ‘good things are done by a series of small things brought together.’”



I am just bursting with pride at the amazing people who make up the harness horse world. To see all the different ways everyone is helping out, is staggering.
To those affected..we can not bring the beloved horses back..but you will come back..with the help of your brothers and sisters of this amazing industry.
Lynda Bourgon

What a great community the horse racing industry is. It makes me proud to be a horseman. What other industry would come together to help out its competition on such a grand scale? This is truly the silver lining to this dark cloud. Kudos to everyone involved in helping or donating $ or goods. The best people bar none !!

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