Six months ago, Valerie Ashker, partner Peter Friedman and their retired racehorses Primitivo and Solar Express set out from California on a cross country ride to raise awareness for off track Thoroughbreds. Yesterday, the quartet rode reached their final destination at the Middleburg Training Center in Middleburg, Va.
Despite the frigid wind and cloudy skies, a throng of supporters turned out to cheer them along for the final hundred yards of their 3,500 mile ride in a welcome home celebration supported by the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation. Watch the video of their big finish with commentary from Lainey Ashker here.
“I am just bowled over by everyone’s support in having the same passion with these Thoroughbreds,” Valerie said. “All the people that I had by me such as my family and great friends were here to see me close this chapter.”
Suffering broken bones, unruly drivers and a multitude of bumps in the road, Valerie and Peter persevered on their long ride. In an emotional message to her fans the morning before crossing the finish line, Valerie thanked everyone who helped her along the way.
“It goes without words, all my new friends, I will keep you in my heart and know when I finish today for those that could not make it, I couldn’t have done it without you,” she said. “When things looked so far away for me to get my goals, you guys were on Facebook rooting me on. I could never do it without you…we’re going to finish this thing with a bang like we started.”
The journey isn’t over for Valerie and her OTTBs. She reported that she’s already been asked to do some talks and has promised to remain active and engaged with her fans on the 2nd Makes Thru Starting Gates Facebook page.
Well done, Valerie and Peter! It’s been a remarkable adventure!