Thoroughbreds have a long history of eating up the Rolex Kentucky cross-country track. The wide-open galloping suits them — it’s almost as if they know they’re on stage in the heart of Thoroughbred country.
Yesterday was no exception. The 2016 Rolex entry list was quite Thoroughbred heavy (check out Allie Conrad’s full roster of them complete with racing histories and pedigrees here) with many of them making short work of the long, relentless course.
Here are the Thoroughbreds you can cheer extra-loud for at show jumping today:
Blackfoot Mystery, an OTTB owned by Blackfoot Mystery Syndicate and ridden by Boyd Martin: 10th place
Simply Priceless, an OTTB owned by Simply Priceless Syndicate and ridden by Elisa Wallace: 14th
Donner, an OTTB owned by Donner Syndicate and ridden by Lynn Symansky: 16th
Sound Prospect, an OTTB owned by Sound Prospect LLC and ridden by Allie Knowles: 18th
Cecelia, a Thorougbred owned by Aurelio Quinzaños and Jorge Eduardo Mtz. Castrejon and ridden by Daniela Moguel: 23rd
Anthony Patch, an OTTB owned and ridden by Laine Ashker: 27th
In It To Win It, a Thoroughbred owned by Avery and Chip Klunick and ridden by Avery Klunick: 29th
AP Prime, an OTTB owned by CML Horses and ridden by Leah Lang-Gluscic: 30th
Madison Park, an OTTB owned and ridden by Kyle Carter: 32nd
McLovin, a Thoroughbred owned by Heather Sinclair and ridden by Ryan Wood: 34th
Steady Eddie, a Thoroughbred owned by Gretchen Wintersteen, Pierre Colin and Denise Lahey and ridden by Boyd Martin: 42nd
Rise Against, an OTTB owned and ridden by Bunnie Sexton: 44th
Houdini, an OTTB owned and ridden by Katie Ruppel: 46th
Tactical Maneuver, an OTTB owned and ridden by Ashley Johnson: 47th
Novelle, an OTTB owned and ridden by Angela Grzywinkski: 54th
Leading the pack by a nose is Blackfoot Mystery, who is making his four-star debut under the expert tutelage of Boyd Martin. The 12-year-old gelding (Out of Place, out of True Mystery by Proud Truth) was actually bred here in Kentucky — perhaps he knows he is in his hometown!
Allie recounted this fun fact about “Big Red” in her Thoroughbred roundup: “Blackfoot Mystery raced for trainer Jesus Mendoza at Hollywood Park. After racing three times without breaking his maiden, Jesus called Leigh Gray of Thoroughbred Rehab Center, an accredited organization of Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, to see if she might be interested in a ‘sporty chestnut.’ Leigh came out to see him and adopted the horse from Jesus that day.”
Coincidentally, Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance is the official charity of Rolex 2016. TAA is a Lexington-based non-profit organization that accredits, inspects and awards grants to approved aftercare organizations to retire, retrain and rehome Thoroughbreds using industrywide funding. It has awarded almost $3.5 million to accredited organizations in the past two years and currently supports 56 accredited organizations across 180 facilities in the United States.
Here in Kentucky these organizations include CANTER Kentucky, Kentucky Equine Humane Center, New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program, Old Friends Retirement Center, Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement, Our Mims Retirement Haven, Second Stride Inc., and The Exceller Fund.
Another organization that is doing great work to support OTTBs this week is the Retired Racehorse Project. Their fundraising headline event, last night’s Hoedown at Hagyard, was well-attended by Thoroughbred enthusiasts with several eventers and jockeys in the mix. From the racing scene we spotted Rosie Napravnik and Joe Sharp, Graham and Anita Motion, and Chris McCarron…
…as well as Rolex competitors Phillip Dutton, Laine Ashker (with mom Valerie, of course!) and Ashley Johnson.
The event featured barbecue, live music by farrier Steve Norman’s Shades of Grass Band, and a “new sport “called Equicizer Racing — the celebrity edition was pretty funny!
We caught up with Ashley, a first-time four-star rider (check out our “Rolex Rookies” profile of her here) who piloted her 11-year-old OTTB Tactical Maneuver to a clear cross-country round on Saturday. They went a bit conservatively on their time but Ashley says she was thrilled with the way “Gucci” attacked the course.
Raced under the name “Shykees Thunder,” by Thunder Gulch, out of Chelle Spendabuck, Gucci was pulled off the track by Katie Ruppel after a milquetoast run of 12 career starts. He placed in the top three only once, in a maiden claiming race at Penn National, and collected a grand total of $4,500 in earnings.
“The interesting thing is that he was racing up north, but when I got him to Prelim level I decided to investigate his pedigree more and find out where he was bred,” Ashley told us. “It was 2011 and I had bought a farm (Ashland Equestrian) and moved to Ocala, Florida full-time. It turned out that he was bred about four miles from my farm at a place called Runnin’ Horse Farm!”
Ashley kindly took a few moments at the Hagyard Hoedown to recap the biggest cross-country ride of her lifetime and share some OTTB love:
Best of luck to Ashley and Gucci and the rest of Rolex’s Thoroughbred competitors!