Del Mar fiesta to raise funds for former racehorses


By Kristina Houck

When racehorses can no longer cross the finish line first, After the Finish Line steps in.

Saving them from slaughter and neglect, the nonprofit contributes funds to organizations that rescue, rehabilitate and find new homes for thoroughbreds.

“When their racing or breeding career is over, their future is uncertain,” said Dawn Mellen, founder and president of After the Finish Line. “We’re here to stand up for these horses and make sure their welfare is taken care of.”

To assist these organizations, After the Finish Line holds several fundraisers every year, such as “A Fiesta for the Horses” on Aug. 21 at En Fuego Cantina & Grill in Del Mar. From 6 p.m. to closing, the restaurant will donate 10 percent of all sales to After the Finish Line. In addition, $1 will be donated to the nonprofit for every “Finish Line” Margarita sold throughout August.

“Racing season is the perfect time for us to create awareness and promote the cause of helping the horses when their racing careers are over,” said Mellen, who has a home in Rancho Santa Fe. “I really don’t think people think about what happens to these horses when they can no longer race.”

Founded in 2007, the group is entirely volunteer-run. In 2012, After the Finish Line awarded nearly $100,000 to 65 rescue groups helping about 300 horses. In the first five months of this year, the nonprofit had already awarded nearly $60,000 in grants to roughly 30 organizations.

“The donations that we receive are for the horses,” Mellen said. “Over the years, it’s been wonderful to give back to these magnificent, noble thoroughbreds. They try so hard on the track. When it’s determined by the owner or the trainer that they can no longer race, we’re there to help them transition off the track and into a second career or retirement.”

“A Fiesta for the Horses” begins at 6 p.m. on Aug. 21 at En Fuego Cantina & Grill, 1342 Camino Del Mar, Del Mar.

For more information about After the Finish Line, visit

To learn more about volunteer or charity partner opportunities with After the Finish Line, contact Mellen at 858-945-1371 or