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2023 Thoroughbred Makeover Applications Now Open for Submission

The Retired Racehorse Project (RRP) announced last week that applications for the 2023 Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium, presented by Thoroughbred Charities of America, are now open for submission. The application period closes at 5 PM EST on January 20, 2023.

Accepted trainers will be announced no later than February 15, 2023. The 2023 Thoroughbred Makeover Rulebook outlines all rules and information relevant to the competition, with changes for 2022 marked in red and clarifying information marked in blue. Interested applicants can start the application process now by logging in

Entering its ninth year at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, the Thoroughbred Makeover features competition in ten disciplines for recently-retired Thoroughbreds in their first year of retraining for a career after racing. Horses and their trainers may compete in one or two disciplines of their choice, including Barrel Racing, Competitive Trail, Dressage, Eventing, Field Hunter, Polo, Ranch Work, Show Hunter, Show Jumper, and Freestyle (a freeform discipline showcasing skills of the trainer’s choosing). New for 2023, the Thoroughbred Makeover will also include a Former Broodmare division, presented by Claiborne Farm, serving as a pilot program for recently-retired broodmares exiting the bloodstock industry.

Horses and trainers will compete for more than $110,000 in total prize money, plus the coveted title of Thoroughbred Makeover Champion, at the Kentucky Horse Park on October 11-14, 2023. The Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium includes not only the competition, but educational seminars, a vendor fair, the Makeover Marketplace horse sale, and more. The Thoroughbred Makeover Finale will feature the top five horses in each discipline in the Retiring Racehorses division based on preliminary competition and will be live-streamed for viewers at home.

The Thoroughbred Makeover is open to professionals, amateurs, juniors (ages 12 and over), and teams. Applicants are required to provide information about this riding and competition background as well as references, including one from a veterinarians, and video that showcases their riding ability. Competitors do not need to have acquired their horse at the time of application, though they must register their horse no later than July 28, 2023.

Accepted trainers may acquire eligible Thoroughbreds through whatever source they choose, or can ride under contract from an owner. Eligible horses in the Retired Racehorse division must have raced or had a published work on or after July 1, 2021 and must not have started retraining for a second career prior to December 1, 2022 other than a maximum of 15 allowable rides, intended to allow for trial rides. Eligible horses in the Former Broodmare division must have raced or had a published work in their lifetime, and must have produced a foal or have been bred in the 2021 breeding season or after as reported by The Jockey Club; they may not have shown or competed prior. Full eligibility requirements can be found in the rulebook at

2022 Thoroughbred Makeover Fast Facts:

• 516 horses were registered for the competition

• High-profile contenders in 2022 included 2020 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner and Eclipse Award Male Sprinter champion Whitmore and past Breeders’ Cup participants Almanaar (GB) and Fast Boat. A total of 35 registered horses were graded stakes or stakes placed or winners

• Over $34 million has been invested into the future of horses participating in the Makeover since its inception in 2013, including health care, training and more

• A total of 2,990 unique trainers have been accepted since 2013, representing 46 states and four Canadian provinces. Many trainers attend annually with multiple horses

• A total of 4,159 have been directly impacted by the Makeover since 2013

About the Retired Racehorse Project: The Retired Racehorse Project (RRP) is a 501(c)3 charitable organization working to increase demand for off-track Thoroughbreds in the equestrian world. In addition to producing the Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium, the world’s largest and most lucrative retraining competition for recently-retired racehorses, the organization also publishes Off-Track Thoroughbred Magazine, produces the Master Class retraining clinic series, and presents programming at major horse expos and events around the country. The RRP maintains an educational library of content to empower more equestrians to ride a Thoroughbred.

Real Rider Cup Lexington Raises Over $90,000 For Thoroughbred Aftercare

Real Rider Cup welcomed 30 horse and rider combinations along with hundreds of spectators to New Vocations at Mereworth Farm Saturday, July 9th for an evening of lively competition and entertainment. Created by Anita Motion, the charity show jumping competition brings together personalities from across the breeding and racing industry to increase awareness and raise funds for Thoroughbred aftercare, with each rider pledging to raise at least $1,000.

Offered for the first time in Lexington, the racing community embraced the Real Rider Cup concept in phenomenal fashion, nearly doubling the event’s previous fundraising record, bringing in over $90,000 and counting.

Riders, mounted on off-track Thoroughbreds and wearing the silks of their employers, colleagues, and clients contended a winding course of fences with the fastest clear rounds taking home top honors. Connections and institutions represented included WinStar, Godolphin, Stonestreet, Pin Oak, Lane’s End, Bonne Chance, Airdrie, Stone Farm, BloodHorse, a 1/ST Racing team lead by Aaron Gryder, Churchill Downs, Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, R. Brisset Racing, an entire team headed up by Rosie Napravnik, and more.

Noteworthy horses included the first son of Zenyatta, Cozmic One, with Hidden Brook Farm’s Sergio de Sousa in the tack, 5* event horse Sound Prospect, piloted by John Ennis, and Discovery Stakes (G3) winner Sticksstatelydude expertly ridden by Kristin VanMeter. “The voice of Fasig-Tipton,” Terence Collier, served as emcee, providing color commentary.

Awards were given for individual results, as well as teams (riders were given the option of forming their own team or to be assigned to one based on their industry background).

Individual results:

  • Win: Jesslyn Woodall on Lead Player
  • Place: Keira Nygaard on Judge Johnny
  • Show: Tara Coombs on Baptizo

Team Results:

  • Win: Team Blood-Horse (Woodall, Ennis, and Gash)
  • Place: Team Breeding & Bloodstock (Nygaard, de Sousa, and Brooks)
  • Show: Team Off-Track Sporthorses (Napravnik, Crow, Swirsky, Buckberry, and Czerwonka)

“We are totally overwhelmed by the response to the Lexington event,” said Real Rider Cup founder Anita Motion. “It is so apparent that retraining and aftercare are at the forefront of people’s minds and we are incredibly grateful to all the riders and sponsors that worked so hard to make the show possible and to all that came to cheer them on. Lexington really threw down the gauntlet, and we’re excited to return to our home in Fair Hill to see how the mid-Atlantic region will respond.”

With the second leg of the Real Rider Cup to be held at Fair Hill September 16th, the games have just begun as there is still plenty of time to get involved. Rider registration is open through September 9th with a variety of sponsorship packages available.

View full results and learn more at

Proceeds of the Real Rider Cup benefit the Retired Racehorse Project, New Vocations Thoroughbred Adoption and the Fair Hill Thoroughbred Show.

Fair Hill Thoroughbred Show is a 501c3 organization supporting riders of Thoroughbreds by providing affordable show fees, scholarships, stakes classes and prizes in every division. By supporting their riders, we are helping more OTTBs find second careers.

The Retired Racehorse Project (RRP) is a 501(c)3 charitable organization working to increase demand for off-track Thoroughbreds in the equestrian world. In addition to producing the Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium the world’s largest and most lucrative retraining competition for recently-retired racehorses, the organization also publishes Off-Track Thoroughbred Magazine, produces the Master Class retraining clinic series, and presents programming at major horse expos and events around the country. The RRP maintains an educational library of content to empower more equestrians to ride a Thoroughbred.

Founded in 1992, New Vocations has grown into the largest racehorse adoption program in the country. Its mission to rehabilitate, retrain and rehome retired Thoroughbred and Standardbred racehorse has led to the placement of over 7,000 individuals, with 500 retirees entering the program each year. With facilities in Kentucky, Louisiana, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania, New Vocations serves over 40 racetracks, working directly with owners and trainers in need of aftercare options.


Eventers Among New Retired Racehorse Project Board Members and Officers

The Retired Racehorse Project (RRP) is pleased to announce the election of a new board chair, Sue Smith, and vice chair, Richard Lamb, along with the addition of three new board members: Malinda Lawrence, JudithAnn Hartman, and Clare and Tom Mansmann (sharing one seat). Newly-elected members may serve two consecutive three-year terms.

Former vice chair, Sue Smith, has stepped into the leadership role to take the place of outgoing chair, Dr. Carolyn Karlson. Sue, also the executive director of CANTER Pennsylvania, has served on the RRP board since 2015 and brings substantial institutional knowledge to the table in combination with her extensive experience in aftercare and equestrian sport.

Richard Lamb has taken over the role of vice chair, having joined the board in January of 2020 after several years officiating at the Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium. A popular coach and clinician, Richard holds certifications with the British Horse Society and the United Stated Eventing Association’s Instructor Certification and Young Event Horse Trainer programs and has also served as coach for the US Pony Club Team at USEF National Pony Jumper Championships and members of the 2012 US Olympic Modern Pentathlon.

“It is an honor to be nominated to the position of board chair, as the RRP’s mission is crucial to the continued success of Thoroughbred aftercare. I am proud that we have developed a versatile, engaged board bridging both the racing and sport industries,” said Sue. “Like all of our board members, I bring a unique perspective with fourteen years’ experience in aftercare. I’ve worked alongside trainers on the backside of tracks who have felt the direct impact of the RRP both in increasing demand for ex-racehorses and adding value to horses directly off the track. This shift is palpable and gives me great hope for the future of the industry and the breed. I look forward to another exciting year with the organization and hope to carry on in the spirit of my predecessors.”

A founding RRP board member that served through 2015, Malinda Lawrence continued to actively volunteer for the organization and has returned to the board to serve again; she has  also been voted into the role of secretary. An attorney for the federal government, Malinda can be credited with establishing the RRP’s nonprofit status and laying a strong administrative foundation for the organization in its earliest years. A Pony Club graduate and eventing enthusiast, Malinda has owned two OTTBs over the last two decades, both of whom participated in some of the RRP’s first clinics and demonstrations over 10 years ago. She also serves on the United States Eventing Association’s Legal Committee.

JudithAnn Hartman is a long-standing supporter of the RRP who sponsors the Top Maryland-Bred special award at the Thoroughbred Makeover under the name of her racing and breeding operation, Copper Beech Stables. Judy is also a breeder of Welsh Mountain Ponies and actively competes them in combined driving. Judy earned her doctorate in chemistry from Harvard University and, prior to going full-time in her racing and breeding endeavors, worked in research and development as well as serving as a professor of chemistry at the United States Naval Academy.

Clare and Tom Mansmann, who operate Pacific Farms in Hume, Virginia, have competed in the Thoroughbred Makeover since 2016, regularly attending with multiple horses and engaging their clients and students in the process. They have been advocates for and promotors of the RRP, organizing demonstrations, cultivating community amongst trainers, and crediting their involvement with the organization for reigniting their passion for training horses. They are a dynamic pair, with riding backgrounds spanning from exercise riding and upper level eventing to foxhunting and cutting.

“We’re excited to welcome Malinda, Judy, and the Mansmanns to our board,” said RRP interim executive director Kirsten Green. “Although they are new to their board positions, they are not strangers to the RRP and we’re grateful for the diverse experience and perspective they bring to the table.”

The board also voted to extend member emeritus status to outgoing board chair, Dr. Carolyn Karlson. A board member since 2012, Carolyn moved into the role of board chair following Steuart Pittman’s step-down in 2018. Carolyn was a catalyst for the bringing the Thoroughbred Makeover into existence, conceiving of the format for the first Makeover in 2013 and being the RRP’s biggest benefactor since. With over 25 years of experience in higher education, Carolyn now spends her time offering college admissions counseling through Starting Gate College Consulting as well as breeding and racing under her own Sisu Racing Stables.

“I’m so honored to have more than ten years of memories with the RRP, from our first Makeover at Pimlico Race Course with 26 retired racehorses, to the Mega-Makeover of 2021 at the Kentucky Horse Park”, said Carolyn. “Never could I have imagined the thousands of horses and trainers the RRP would go on to help and serve since its inception. It’s my greatest honor to have played a part in that progression and I can’t wait to see what the next ten years hold for the RRP.”

Thoroughbreds of the 2021 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event

The Thoroughbred has been long regarded as the ultimate horse for the sport of three-day eventing, and while many modern eventers are infusing Thoroughbred blood into warmblood breeding, some are going straight to the source: 10 entries for this year’s Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event at the 5* level will be piloting Thoroughbreds around the bluegrass.

The Retired Racehorse Project is again teaming up with Eventing Nation to tell you all you need to know about the Thoroughbreds who will be taking on Kentucky this year!

Horses being horses, we expect the list of entrants to change right up until the competition starts. We’ll be keeping our guide at updated with the latest information and changes.

Withdrawn: Chris Talley announced on April 13 that Unmarked Bills was withdrawn.

All ten of this year’s competing Thoroughbreds were bred with the intention to race, and seven made at least one start. AP Prime (Leah Lang-Gluscic), More Inspiration (Holly Jacks-Smither), Palm Crescent (Meghan O’Donoghue), Steady Eddie (Michael Pendleton), and Unmarked Bills (Chris Talley) were all winners (Steady Eddie found the wire the most with seven wins).

In total, the Thoroughbreds in this year’s Kentucky field made 144 starts for combined earnings of $178,340. Unmarked Bills is once again the high-money earner of the field with $67,250.

The oldest Thoroughbred in the field is Daniela Moguel’s Cecelia at 18. (Steady Eddie is also a 2003 model, but being a New Zealand-bred, he will not “officially” turn 18 until August.) Allison Springer’s Business Ben is the youngest at 11.

Make sure you bookmark Eventing Nation’s Kentucky coverage for up-to-the-minute updates on everything going on at the Horse Park!

Read our previous years’ summaries of the Thoroughbreds competing in Kentucky (note that not all of the horses profiled in the articles actually started the eventing):



Eventing Nation photo

AP PRIME (Leah Lang-Gluscic, USA)
Owners: CML Horses LLC
Breeding: 2005 gelding by Aptitude (A.P. Indy) out of Czarina Kate (The Prime Minister)
Racing name: A.P. Prime (KY)
Racing record: 31 starts (2-4-5), $20,175
Breeder: Dixiana Stables, Inc.
Auction: 2006 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, $11,000

AP Prime and Leah Lang-Gluscic’s upper-level career all started with a CANTER listing: Lang-Gluscic made a fateful stop at Fairmount Park while en route to pick up a horse trailer, inquiring after a horse she had seen listed through CANTER Illinois. That horse turned out to be AP Prime, who had a fairly long racing career spanning four seasons with a total of 31 starts.

Lang-Gluscic, who had recently left a career as an investment banker to become a professional in the horse industry, felt upper-level potential in AP Prime after their first event together at Beginner Novice, despite her original intentions to make him a resale project. They moved up through the levels to Intermediate and spent some time there to fully develop all three phases.

The pair’s first five-star attempt (then four-star, on the old rating) came in 2015, withdrawing before cross-country at Kentucky. They finished 33rd in 2016. While AP Prime sat out for most of 2017 to heal a tendon injury, he made a return to the upper levels in 2018, including their most recent run at Kentucky that culminated in a withdrawal after cross-country. They’re back now in 2020 for a fourth crack at the event.

This year, the pair kicked off the season going double-clear on cross country and placing fourth in the Intermediate at Ocala Winter Horse Trials, then placed third in Preliminary at Rocking Horse. They returned to FEI-level competition in the CCI4*-S at Red Hills, placing 10th, and also completed the CCI4*-S at Stable View.

Shelby Allen photo

BUSINESS BEN (Allison Springer, USA)
Owners: The Business Ben Partnership
Breeding: 2010 gelding by Artie Schiller (El Prado [IRE]) out of Min Elreeh (Danzig)
Racing name: Business Ben
Racing record: unraced
Breeder: Liberation Farm & Brandywine Farm
Auction: 2011 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, $40,000; 2012 Fasig-Tipton Midatlantic Two Year Olds in Training Sale, $50,000

Bred, raised, and sold to race, Business Ben entered training under the ownership of Zayat Stables, but suffered a tendon injury before making his first start. The two-year-old was sent to Fair Hill Equine Therapy Center to rehabilitate, and then moved to Andrew Motion to continue the healing process. When it became clear that the colt, now a three-year-old, would not be a viable racehorse, the Zayats asked Motion to help find him a new career.

“He was always a really cool character of a horse,” describes Motion. “He might have been okay in a more mundane second career, but I really felt from the horse’s character that he needed more occupation, and that eventing would be a good option. I’m a big fan of Artie Schillers — they tend to be big, athletic animals.”

Andrew Motion rehabilitated the injured tendon slowly and patiently, and along with his wife Janie took the horse out on hacks and light riding before reaching out to Allison Springer to see if the four-year-old would be sellable as an event horse.

It didn’t take long for Springer to find the potential in Business Ben: she brought him to a local combined test, then took him to the four-year-old class at Surefire in September where his high score qualified him for the four-year-old championships at Fair Hill. “He did everything on course at Fair Hill so well,” Springer recalls. “Including some things we had never done before at all — like a drop into water.”

Springer purchased the horse for herself: “I had upper-level dreams for him early on,” she describes. In the horse’s six-year-old year, Springer and her business partner Anna McWane formed the Business Ben Partnership and co-own the horse together. “Ben” and Springer continued to climb the levels; the properly-rehabilitated tendon has given him no trouble.

This spring, Business Ben and Springer have had three completions: fourth place in the intermediate at Pine Top, 18th in the Advanced at Pine Top, and sixth in Advanced at The Fork. Kentucky will be their first five-star appearance for this relatively young horse.

Shelby Allen photo

CECEILA (Daniela Moguel, MEX)
Owners: Jorge Martinez Castrejon and Paloma Garcia
Breeding: 2003 mare by Connecticut (Ogygian) out of Penny Stock (Spend A Buck)
Racing name: Constock (IA)
Racing record: unraced

Breeder: Timber Creek Farm

Daniela Moguel wasn’t horse shopping at the time her husband found Cecelia available for purchase, and recalls that he brought it up to her three days in a row before she finally agreed to try the horse. Her husband’s intuition turned out to be correct: Moguel’s supporters purchased the unraced Iowa-bred mare in 2014, who had been campaigning through the four-star level with Leslie Chelstrom Lamb.

Daniela Moguel and Cecelia made their third trip to Kentucky in 2019 and rode one of the best tests of their career with a score of 35.4. The pair had an unfortunate run-out early on cross-country but recovered well and finished strong; they dropped two rails in show jumping. Later, the pair was unfortunately disqualified under veterinary regulations.

Since their last 5* outing, Moguel and Cecelia finished seventh at Morven Park International in the 4*-S, and 11th in the Ocala Jockey Club International at the 4*-L, both in 2019, and earned a win at River Glen in the 3*-S in August of 2020. This year, they started their 2021 season finishing 13th at Rocking Horse in the Advanced and 16th at Red Hills in the 4*-S.

Moguel has the distinction of being the first rider to ever represent Mexico at Kentucky, which she historically has done without any financial support from her national federation. She credits her mare’s Thoroughbred blood with always finding a little more to give on cross-country day. Her advice to other Thoroughbred riders in 2019? “Grab mane and enjoy the ride.”

Eventing Nation photo

JAK MY STYLE (Buck Davidson, USA)
Owners: Kathleen Cuca
Breeding: unregistered
Racing record: unraced
Breeder: unknown

Jak My Style could be called the “dark horse” of the field, but for unusual reasons: we know he’s a Thoroughbred and that he was bred to race, but he was never tattooed or registered with the Jockey Club and was sold via estate sale without papers. Prior to sale, the horse did apparently undergo some race training and became notorious for dumping riders; he became equally challenging for his next owners who intended to train him as a hunter/jumper.

Matthew Bryner took the horse on as a seven-year-old, naming him “Jak My Style” and patiently worked through his quirks, aware there was a lot of natural talent to work with. Once the pair reached a semblance of an understanding, they moved up the levels, competing through Advanced and CCI3*-S before Bryner offered the horse for sale. He was purchased by Kathleen Cuca, with Justine Dutton taking the ride and competing the horse through CCI4*-L.

After a rotational fall that left “Jak” unhurt but sidelined Dutton for a time, Buck Davidson took over the ride and brought Jak to top-ten finishes at the four-star level. An injury sidelined the horse for much of 2018, but he came back stronger than ever in 2019 and made his 5* debut at Kentucky, dancing to a dressage score of 34.1. Unfortunately, Davidson came off of his first mount of three on cross-country day and broke his collarbone, forcing him to withdraw his other two horses, including Jak.

This year, Jak and Davidson’s prep events have included two top-ten finishes in as many starts: they were ninth at Rocking Horse in the Advanced, and fifth at Stable View in the CCI4*-S.

Leslie Threlkeld photo

Owners: Team Johnny Syndicate
Breeding: 2008 gelding by His Royal Highness [NZ] (Grosvenor [NZ]) out of Chivaney [NZ] (Tights)
Racing name: Chivas Royale [NZ]
Racing record: 8 starts (0-0-0), $170
Breeder: John Wheeler

Both Johnny Royale and Joe Meyer hail from New Zealand, but they found their way to each other via the UK: Johnny Royale was produced to the British equivalent of Preliminary by Lizzie Green, who imported the horse after a brief racing career that lasted eight starts with just $170 in earnings. Originally, Johnny Royale was purchased for Meyer by investors with intent to resell, but Meyer quickly realized he had advanced potential; the investors provided an opportunity to syndicate and keep the horse.

Johnny Royale made his Kentucky debut in 2019 with Olympian Joe Meyer, putting together an experience-building trip to the bluegrass. The pair scored a 44.4 in dressage and then had a cracking trip on cross-country, accruing just 3.2 time penalties and jumping clear. Unfortunately, they racked up rails in show jumping, finished 28th overall.

Meyer will be looking to capitalize on what they learned in 2019 in their return to the five-star level this year. Johnny Royale was a “New Zealand ten-year-old” in 2019 (Southern Hemisphere horses turn one year older on August 1), which was relatively young to be contesting the highest levels of sport. They kicked off their 2021 season placing tenth in the Intermediate at Rocking Horse I, sixth in the Advanced at Rocking Horse II, and 36th in the CCI4*-S at Stable View.

Meyer is quick to commend the Thoroughbred as the perfect horse for the sport of eventing: “I’d rather ride a Thoroughbred than any of the other horses that are a bit more warmblooded. At the end of cross-country, you can just shake the reins at a Thoroughbred and they’ll find another gear.”

Eventing Nation photo

MORE INSPIRATION (Holly Jacks-Smither, CAN)
Owners: Bruce Smither and Holly Jacks-Smither
Breeding: 2005 gelding by Inspired Prospect (Woodman) out of Gentle Buck (Buckley Boy)
Racing name: More Inspiration
Racing record: 28 starts (4-2-2), $55,560
Breeder: Display Farm

Holly Jacks-Smither and More Inspiration, aka “Morris,” are making their third run at Kentucky, and their fourth attempt at a five-star in the gelding’s career. “It’s always special to have one you produced come up the levels — especially More Inspiration,” Jacks-Smither told the RRP after winning the Highpoint Thoroughbred Award at the LiftMaster Grand-Prix Eventing earlier this year. “He’s the horse that made my career.”

Jacks-Smither was no stranger to Thoroughbreds when she crossed paths with Morris: she grew up galloping horses on the track starting at age 12. She’s still involved with the racing industry — her husband Bruce Smither is a trainer. She produced Morris from a four-year-old off-track prospect with intents to resell into a five-star contender on the national squad list for Canada.

Their first trip to the five-star level brought them to Kentucky in 2017, where Jacks-Smither had issues with her reins slipping in the Head of the Lake and accrued penalties for crossing her own path to take the long option. However, the completed safely and finished 26. The pair was unfortunately eliminated on cross-country in 2018. While they sat out Kentucky in 2019, they traveled to Pau to contend France’s five-star, and finished an impressive 12th.

This season, Jacks-Smither and Morris kicked things off by placing fifth in the Advanced at Rocking Horse Winter II, plus 23rd at the Grand-Prix Eventing at Bruce’s Field where they also picked up the Highpoint Thoroughbred Award. Most recently, the pair placed fourth in the CCI4*-S at Stable View, priming them for their third run at Kentucky at the end of April.

Eventing Nation photo

PALM CRESCENT (Meghan O’Donoghue, USA)
Owners: Meghan O’Donoghue
Breeding: 2006 gelding by Quiet American (Fappiano) out of Edey’s Village (Silver Deputy)
Racing name: Palm Crescent
Racing record: 12 starts (1-0-0) $9,462
Breeder: Eugene Melnyk

Palm Crescent’s 12-race career spanned over three years before he was retired mid-season and placed to find a second career with CANTER MidAtlantic. The horse was placed with Allie Conrad for his initial transition from racing, then went to Patricia Vos; Conrad and Vos worked together with many horses to help them find homes. From there, he was purchased by Jan Byyny as a resale prospect, for whom Meghan O’Donoghue was working at the time.

“Jan always loved him,” O’Donoghue recalls. Byyny gave the horse his start in eventing, competing him through Training level. He was then purchased by the Shipka family for rising star junior Chase, who trained with Byyny. Shipka took him through Intermediate before she began the transition to riding straight dressage. At this stage, the Shipkas turned to O’Donoghue to help sell their event horses.

“This was in 2015,” O’Donoghue shares. “I had just completed Kentucky with my upper-level hose Pirate, and he had an injury after Kentucky and so I didn’t have a horse to compete. Darcy and Ron Shipka approached me for help to sell their horses, but offered me the ride on ‘Palmer’ while Pirate was recuperating.”

O’Donoghue and Palmer began competing, and the Shipkas chose to keep her on the horse to see how far they could go as a team. “For five years they kept supporting me as we moved up to Advanced,” O’Donoghue describes. She was able to purchase the horse outright in 2020, but while she says the Shipkas might no longer be listed as the owners, she still feels their hand in this opportunity to take the horse to the pinnacle of the sport. “I’m very thankful for their support over the years, and to have them along for this ride!”

This year, O’Donoghue and Palmer placed tenth at Ocala Winter I in the Advanced/Intermediate, seventh in the Advanced at Red Hills, and ninth in the CCI4*-S at The Fork. Kentucky will be Palmer’s first five-star.

Eventing Nation photo

STEADY EDDIE (Michael Pendleton, USA)
Owners: Pierre Colin, Denise Lahey, George and Gretchen Wintersteen
Breeding: 2003 gelding by Jetball [AUS] (Marscay [AUS]) out of Tuonela [AUS] (Chief’s Crown)
Racing name: Big Jet [NZ]
Racing record: 36 starts (7-2-3), $19,852
Breeder: Seven Creeks Estate

If Steady Eddie’s name sounds familiar to you, you’re probably accustomed to seeing him romping around the upper levels with Olympian Boyd Martin. In early 2019, Martin’s assistant rider Michael Pendleton got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take over the ride on the upper-level master, and is preparing to make his own five-star debut on the New Zealand Thoroughbred.

Martin famously test-rode Steady Eddie in flip-flops and shorts after meeting him for the first time turned out after retiring from the track. Liking the potential he felt in the tenacious horse, he imported him to the US in 2010 and brought him up the levels of eventing. Martin and “Eddie” haven’t had great luck at Kentucky itself, finishing 42nd in 2016, suffering a fall for elimination in 2017, and retiring on course in 2018. However, the pair placed 10th at Burghley in the fall of 2017, as well as earned multiple top-ten finishes at the three- and four-star level.

Since taking over the ride in 2019, Pendleton and Eddie have worked their way steadily from Intermediate/two-star up the levels, getting to know each other. This year, they’ve placed third in the Intermediate at Pine Top, 11th at the Advanced at Pine Top, and 20th in the CCI4*-S at The Fork. They haven’t picked up a single cross-country jump penalty all year.

Pendleton penned an open letter on Martin’s website in the fall of 2019 seeking supporters to join “Club Steady Eddie” and get a taste for event horse ownership while helping to defray the cost of upper level competition. “I was very fortunate for the owners of Steady Eddie to give me the ride at the beginning of the year,” he wrote. “I am grateful because they had the chance to sell the horse, but instead they allowed me to take over the ride. This is an unbelievable opportunity to compete at the top level for a person like me that is just starting out my career.”

Eventing Nation photo

TIGHT LINES (Will Coleman, USA)
Owners: The Conair Syndicate
Breeding: 2007 gelding by Turgeon (Caro [IRE]) out of Merindole [FR] (Tel Quel [FR])
Racing name: Tight Lines [FR]
Racing record: 5 starts (0-1-0), $5,871
Breeder: Henri Devin

French-bred former steeplechaser Tight Lines was the highest-placed Thoroughbred pair at Kentucky in 2019; he and Will Coleman scored 35.7 in dressage and had a blazing fast cross-country trip. A contested flag penalty at 11A on cross-country incurred 15 penalty points. Combined with a double clear show jumping, they finished 13th.

Coleman and Tight Lines’ partnership began in 2014, when the horse was purchased by Coleman’s partnership connections through Canadian eventer Lindsay Traisnel and her husband Xavier. “Phish” had competed previously through CCI2*-L, produced by French eventer Paul Gatien in the barn of Nicolas and Theirry Touzaint.

“He’s an amazing galloper,” Coleman said of Tight Lines after cross-country in Kentucky in 2019. “He wants to please and tries so much. He’s as enthusiastic at Fence 1 as he is at Fence 31.”

After Kentucky in 2019, Coleman and Phish contested Burghley’s 5*, finishing 25th. This year, they placed fourth in the Intermediate at Rocking Horse, followed by finishing 16th in the CCI4*-S at Carolina International. Phish hasn’t had a single cross-country jumping penalty since his 2019 trip around Burghley.

Owners: Unmarked Bills Syndicate
Breeding: 2009 gelding by Posse (Silver Deputy) out of Kelli’s Ransom (Red Ransom)
Racing Name: Unmarked Bills [KY]
Racing record: 24 starts (3-6-2), $67,250
Breeder: Diamond A Racing Corp.
Auction: 2010 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, RNA

2019 “Land Rover rookies” Chris Talley and Unmarked Bills captured fans’ hearts with their first trip around the bluegrass, living every OTTB-riding eventer’s dream of producing their own horse from off-track prospect to true upper-level contender. The pair scored 42.0 in dressage, jumped a clear cross-country with 16.4 time penalties, and accused 16 jump and 2 time penalties in show jumping to finish 27th at their very first five-star.

Talley is candid about the challenges Billy presents — he started out a bit high-strung and he has some physical issues that prevented him from being a resale prospect, including kissing spines. But he also believes that the relationship he built with the horse, taking the horse over his very first jump and producing him up the levels himself, has been the secret to their success, allowing them to perform such feats as going Preliminary less than one year after the horse’s last race, and completing their first five-star just five years into their partnership.

After their Kentucky completion, Talley and Billy, with the support of his business partner Hannah Salazar of Zaragoza Acres as well as crowdfunding help, headed to Burghley for a second five-star. They completed a tough cross-country track and Talley made the decision to withdraw before the final horse inspection and show jumping.

Talley and Billy kicked off their 2021 season with a third-place finished in the Intermediate at Pine Top, and most recently completed the CCI4*-S at Stable View.

Withdrawn prior to LRK3DE.

Retired Racehorse Project Statement on COVID-19

We know that many of our readers are actively aiming for the 2020 Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover, to be held at the Kentucky Horse Park on Oct. 7-10, 2020. Accordingly, we are happy to share this update from RRP regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Photo courtesy of Retired Racehorse Project.

The Retired Racehorse Project team is monitoring the COVID-19-related mandates, recommendations and event cancellations and their impact on the equestrian world, including how the cancelation of horse shows and other equestrian events are affecting those preparing horses for the 2020 Thoroughbred Makeover.

We know and appreciate that our competitors are not only worried about the status of the Makeover itself, but about the equestrian competitions and events in the months leading up to the Makeover that most use to prepare their horses for a competition of this nature.

As the country navigates the coming weeks, the picture will become clearer as to what impact COVID-19 will have on events – equestrian and otherwise – scheduled for this summer and fall. We will stay abreast of guidelines put forth by the CDC, as well as state and federal governments, and how they affect our competitors. If a decision to possibly alter the dates or schedule for the Thoroughbred Makeover needs to be considered, we will be proactive and keep our competitors, vendors and other constituents informed.

In the meantime, we’ll do our best to support our competitors as much as possible as they navigate a very unique year in training and preparing their Makeover horses.

As we announced last month, for the first time ever we instituted a waitlist for the 2020 Thoroughbred Makeover, which allows equestrians to apply to compete in the event after the January 15 application deadline. With widespread race cancelations and track closures throughout the country, more horses than anticipated will be retiring from racing in 2020 and this will allow them the possibility to compete in the event, if their new owners and trainers so choose. Those on the waitlist will be given a berth into the Makeover as scratches occur, so we encourage trainers who make the decision to scratch from the competition to submit their official withdrawal to the RRP soon after the decision is made so we can afford the greatest number of horses and riders the opportunity to compete.

Please check our website and social media regularly, as well as your email, for updates. If you have any questions regarding this or anything else, please email [email protected].

Thoroughbred Makeover Links:


RRP’s 2020 Master Class Series Kicks Off Friday at Grand-Prix Eventing at Bruce’s Field

Buck Davidson and the late Archie Rocks in the 2018 Fair Hill CCI4*-L, where they finished 3rd. Bred in Michigan by Sharon Smith, the OTTB won $32,176 in 30 starts, racing under the Jockey Club name Smittys Messiah (Le Monde x Unbridled Diva, by Unbridled Jet).Photo by Shelby Allen.

Spectators at the LiftMaster Grand-Prix Eventing at Bruce’s Field in Aiken, SC will enjoy a real treat on Friday when five-star eventers Buck Davidson and Phillip Dutton headline a Retired Racehorse Project (RRP) Master Class. The RRP’s innovative demonstration allows spectators the opportunity to observe how experienced horsemen and horsewomen analyze off-track Thoroughbred prospects and demonstrate their approach to the first rides in a second career.

Davidson and Dutton will share their insight on selecting and restarting the off-track Thoroughbred in a unique format for the Master Class: Dutton will demonstrate his process himself, while Davidson will coach two riders — RRP Thoroughbred Makeover veterans Brit Vegas Gengenbach and Jordan Pruiksma — from the ground. Horses will be provided by Equine Rescue of Aiken, and after the participating trainers analyze their conformation and movement, they’ll be randomly paired with a horse and put their methods into action. Eventing coach Richard Lamb will provide additional commentary.

2014 $10,000 America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred Contest winners Icabad Crane and Phillip Dutton. Graham and Anita Motion’s former star racehorse (Jump Start  x Adorahy by Rahy) went on to compete at the two-star level, winning the Plantation Field CCI2*-S in 2015, and Phillip has continued championing the breed for eventing. Photo by Megan Stapley Photography, courtesy of the Retired Racehorse Project.

The RRP Master Class will take place at the conclusion of dressage on Friday, Feb. 28 in Jumper Ring 1 at approximately 2 p.m. ET. The demonstration should last about an hour and a half, and is free to attend within the LiftMaster Grand-Prix Eventing at Bruce’s Field.

The original Master Class, which debuted at the 2018 Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium, presented by Thoroughbred Charities of America, was the brainchild of the RRP’s managing director Kirsten Green, who was inspired by the RRP’s founder Stuart Pittman recalling a colt-starting competition he had observed at the Colorado Horse Expo. Green applied the concept to off-track Thoroughbreds, but removed the competitive aspect, creating the Master Class and showcasing that in restarting the OTTB, there are many roads to get to the same goal.

Elisa Wallace was a featured trainer in the 2019 Master Class at the Thoroughbred Makeover, demonstrating her unique brand of horsemanship with a challenging horse. She worked alongside racing and restarting trainer Douglas Nunn and Grand Prix dressage trainer Emily Brollier Curtis to demonstrate three vastly different approaches that all worked toward the same goal: a relaxed horse that had taken his first successful step into a second career.

While the RRP is perhaps best-known for the Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium — the world’s largest and most lucrative annual retraining competition that draws hundreds of professional, amateur, junior and team competitors from across North America with recently-restarted OTTBs — an important component of the organization’s mission to increase demand for Thoroughbreds in second careers is providing education to the equestrian industry. That’s why in 2020, the RRP Master Class is hitting the road, with at least three more demonstrations on the schedule.

“The RRP was created with a focus on expanding the market for Thoroughbreds after racing as sport horses and we’ve seen the Makeover serve that mission in a tremendous way,” said RRP executive director Jen Roytz. “The Master Class is a different spin on that. Attendees get to see several top professionals simultaneously take and explain their first rides on recently-retired racehorses, and what the subsequent months of training would look like if the horse were in their program. No two clinics have ever been the same – everyone has their own approach and offer tips, tricks and techniques that work for them — but they’ve always been extremely interesting and educational.”

Spectators can find the RRP Master Class — which will feature a different set of experienced trainers and new horses provided by an aftercare organization — at US Pony Club Championships on July 18 at the Kentucky Horse Park; at the Thoroughbred Makeover on Oct. 9; and at the Ocala Jockey Club International Three-Day Event, Nov. 12-15 (specific date to be determined). Additional dates may be announced at other events throughout the year.

For more information about Friday’s RRP Master Class and the Retired Racehorse Project, please visit the organization’s website.

Last Day to Get Your Trainer Application in for 2020 Thoroughbred Makeover!

2019 Eventing Thoroughbred Makeover Champions Rosie Napravnik and Sanimo. Photo by CanterClix.

Thinking about throwing your hat in the ring of next year’s Thoroughbred Makeover? Tick tock! For roundabout the cost of a regular horse trial, you could not only jump-start the career of an off-track horse but also be part of the biggest OTTB lovefest of the year — and the last day to get your application in is today, January 15, by midnight. Accepted trainers will be announced on Feb. 15, 2020.

Now in its sixth year, the Thoroughbred Makeover, presented by Thoroughbred Charities of America, features competition in 10 disciplines for recently-retired Thoroughbreds in their first year of retraining for a second career after racing. Disciplines include barrel racing, competitive trail, dressage, eventing, field hunters, freestyle, polo, show hunter, show jumper and ranch work.

“If you’re thinking of participating in the Thoroughbred Makeover, do it,” says Jonathan Horowitz, sports announcer and ‘the voice of the Thoroughbred Makeover.’ “Not just for the competition, not just for being at the Kentucky Horse Park, and not just even for the cool friendships and pictures. Do it for the lessons to be learned along the way. RRP emphasizes that the Makeover is not the end goal for OTTBs. It’s an ideal end-of-first-year goal. In my riding journey, it’s going to be a stepping stone on what is shaping up to be a lifelong passion sparked by announcing these horses.”

Horses and trainers will compete for more than $125,000 in total prize money, plus the coveted title of Thoroughbred Makeover Champion, at the Kentucky Horse Park on Oct. 7-10, 2020. The Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium includes not just the competition, but educational seminars, a vendor fair, the Makeover Marketplace horse sale and the Makeover Master Class featuring demonstrations and insight from leading trainers. The Finale features the top five horses in each discipline and will be livestreamed for viewers at home.

“The Retired Racehorse Project was created to drive demand for Thoroughbreds after racing as sport horses, and the Thoroughbred Makeover is one of the most successful executions of this mission,” says RRP executive director Jen Roytz. “Each year the event has grown in both size and scope and we’re seeing more and more Makeover graduates representing the breed on the national stage.”

The Thoroughbred Makeover is open to professionals, amateurs, juniors (ages 12 and older) and teams. Applicants are required to provide information about their riding and competition background as well as references, including one from a veterinarian. Applicants are encouraged to provide links to riding video, which is a requirement for first-time competitors. Competitors do not need to have acquired their horse at the time of application, though must declare their horse no later than July 31, 2020.

Approved trainers may acquire eligible Thoroughbreds through whatever source they choose, or can ride under contract for an owner. Eligible horses must have raced or had a published work on or after July 1, 2018 and must not have started retraining for a second career prior to December 1, 2019 other than a maximum of 15 allowable rides. The 2020 Thoroughbred Makeover Rulebook outlines all rules and information relevant to the competition, with changes for 2020 marked in red and clarifying information marked in blue.

The Thoroughbred Makeover, produced by the 501(c)3 non-profit organization Retired Racehorse Project, is made possible each year by the generosity and support of sponsors and donors. In addition to the Makeover, the RRP publishes Off-Track Thoroughbred Magazine, maintains the Retired Racehorse Resource Directory, the online Thoroughbred Sport Tracker (the only user-driven database for Thoroughbred bloodlines in second careers), and a library of educational materials online, and produces educational demonstrations around the country at clinics and expos, all with the goal of increasing demand for Thoroughbreds in second careers.

Thoroughbred Makeover Links:

Ocala Jockey Club Three-Day International to Feature RRP Master Class

The Thoroughbred is widely hailed as the ultimate athlete for the sport of eventing, but for newcomers to the breed in any discipline, getting started can be a bit intimidating. There’s an appeal in bringing along one’s own Thoroughbred from off-track prospect to upper-level potential, but how do you know what to look for?

To give spectators a comprehensive look at what to consider when analyzing Thoroughbred prospects and how to approach the training process, the Retired Racehorse Project conceived the Master Class, showcasing experienced trainers who share their insight and demonstrate their own unique approaches to re-starting off-track horses. The Master Class has previously been featured at the past two Thoroughbred Makeovers at the Kentucky Horse Park, and makes its Ocala Jockey Club International debut in the main arena on Sunday, November 17 at the conclusion of show jumping.

The Format

Three recently-retired ex-racing Thoroughbreds will be introduced and analyzed for movement, conformation and first impressions by three professional trainers with Thoroughbred experience. Trainers will then be randomly paired with a horse and will break out into individual sessions, utilizing their own methods and tools including round pens, long lines, pony horses or the assistance of a second handler. Commentators will provide additional insight and narration.

The Trainers

Ashley Johnson: upper-level event rider Ashley Johnson’s current partner is off-track Thoroughbred Tactical Maneuver, with whom she’s competed at the highest levels of the sport

Tik Maynard: upper-level event rider Tik Maynard blends eventing with natural horsemanship and competes, coaches and clinics all over the country, and has competed successfully at past Thoroughbred Makeovers

Lauren Turner: winner of the 2016 Thoroughbred Makeover with Fairway King, Lauren Turner brings it full circle by participating in the Master Class (and also brings Fairway King for his first Ocala Jockey Club International!)

The Horses

Recently-retired racehorses with a minimal number of post-track rides will be provided by Florida-based aftercare organizations and training centers: Florida Thoroughbred Retirement and Adoptive Care, Niall Brennan Stables and Thoroughbred Retirement of Tampa.

The Commentators

Katie Ruppel: upper-level eventer Katie Ruppel rode the highest-placed Thoroughbred at Ocala Jockey Club International in 2017 aboard Houdini, part of her string of Thoroughbreds and Thoroughbred-crosses

Elisa Wallace: upper-level eventer Elisa Wallace competes several off-track Thoroughbreds, most notably Simply Pricless at the highest levels of the sport. She’s a past Thoroughbred Makeover champion and veteran

Rick Wallace: coming from a well-rounded multi-disciplinary background, Rick Wallace has achieved success at the highest levels of eventing and continues to compete and train, as well as coach

The Master Class will be emceed by RRP executive director Jen Roytz, and will feature ample time for questions from spectators. If you’ve been thinking about an off-track Thoroughbred for your next partner or seek to learn more about the retraining process, the Master Class, which is free and open to all, will offer plenty of perspective!

For more information about the Retired Racehorse Project Master Class, please visit the website.

And don’t forget about the RRP Charity Golf Classic, taking place Tuesday, Nov. 12 before OJC begins. Taking place at the beautiful Golden Ocala Golf Club (8300 NW 31st Lane Road, Ocala, FL 34482), the RRP Charity Golf Classic will be a four-player scramble-format tournament, with lunch served at 11:30 and a shotgun start at 12:30. Stick around for awards, refreshments and cash bar upon conclusion! Click here for more information.

Best of HN: 9 Small Things That Equestrians Find Oddly Satisfying

This week Horse Nation’s #TBT takes us back to simpler times… Because it’s the little things in life, right? The little things that give us the most pleasure … or remind us that we’re totally, completely insane.

Flickr/Kate/CC Photo.

We as equestrians already know that we’re special, set apart from the rest of the world for our love of horses (and therefore our ability to spend huge sums on their upkeep, health and happiness while wearing the same ratty old barn clothes for years at a time). But while we’re all aware of the unique joys of a great canter, the little nicker your horse gives when he sees you coming down the barn aisle and the velvety touch of a muzzle, there are a few other tiny aspects of our lifestyle that might be a little harder to explain to your Muggle friends and family.

1. Grabbing a fistful of grain and letting it run through your fingers.

Who does not do this? (You can also sub in new arena footing for grain.) I worked at a Wyoming ranch that fed oats and out of all the grains and pellets I’ve ever played with in my life the oats were probably the most satisfying. Imagine our joy when we started soaking them in hot water — it was a like a hand spa.

2. Sweeping.

Cleaning your own house — forget it, but if you don’t get some kind of buzz in the pleasure center of your brain when you do a really good barn sweeping and get all the nooks and crannies in the corners, there might actually be something wrong with you.

3. When the compressed disc of dirt and manure pops out of your horse’s shoe in one piece with just one flick of the hoof pick.

I don’t know if I even have anything else to say about this. It is legitimately the greatest thing that can happen when grooming.

4. Creating exactly the right size duct-tape square for an abscess (and cutting the darts in just the right places).

I’ll confess that I’m personally actually really bad at this but my sister-in-law is some sort of duct-tape genius and can bang out a cross-taped square custom-sized to the horse’s foot in about three minutes and it’s just right every time. While I’m fighting with the vetwrap and poultice pad, she cuts her darts and hands me a beautiful patchwork of duct tape at exactly the right moment. We make an excellent team.

5. Pulling the mane.

This is probably much less satisfying for the horse, but that rip-tear and the slowly accumulating pile of excess mane hair makes one feel SO accomplished. If that doesn’t do it for you, the sight of a neatly-pulled steed giving you the hoof as he runs away from you after being turned out when you’re done will definitely make you grin.

6. When your butt settles into its spot in your nicely-broken-in saddle.

Some people have a favorite armchair. We have our saddles. Same tushie, different location.

7. The slippery feeling when you get mane detangler on your fingers.

This is actually hell if you’re about to mount up without gloves and go for a ride (and don’t even get me started on driving the draft horses out to hitch to the forecart when I can’t hold onto the lines for the life of me), but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun to run your fingers over each other in glee like a child.

8. Finding the bean.

No comment.

9. Getting home from the barn, washing your hands and watching all the dirt flow down the drain.

Don’t take this to mean I don’t love accumulating the dirt in the first place, but it is one of my tiny joys when I get home and get to at least scrub my hands (if not immediately jump in the shower). This might not be ideal for the health of my house’s plumbing, but it is wildly satisfying to watch.

What weird small pleasures would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments! Go riding.

RRP Emphasizes Equine Welfare With New Arrival Exam at Thoroughbred Makeover

In keeping with the organization’s goal to better serve the Thoroughbred and continue to educate the owners, trainers and farms who seek to help transition these horses to second careers, the Retired Racehorse Project’s new arrival exam at the 2019 Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium, presented by Thoroughbred Charities of America, emphasizes soundness, body condition and microchipping.

“The aim of the arrival exam is to not only verify each horse’s identity and ensure he or she is healthy and sound for competition, but to also set the standard of horsemanship associated with off-track Thoroughbreds,” said RRP executive director Jen Roytz.

“In addition to the actual exam, which is reminiscent of what competitors might experience at higher levels of competition with horse inspections, we also hosted webinars with Q and As and published educational materials focused on topics such as nutrition, hoof care, the Henneke Body Condition scoring system, vaccination protocols, and injury rehabilitation and prevention” Roytz added.

Components of the arrival exam

Every horse that competes at the 2019 Thoroughbred Makeover will undergo an arrival exam performed by veterinarians from Hagyard Equine Medical Institute. Arrival exams will include an assessment of body condition score and vital signs, examination for lameness at the walk, and a scan for a microchip.


Microchipping is rapidly becoming the equine industry standard as a means of permanent identification, and every horse participating in the 2019 Thoroughbred Makeover is required to have a microchip registered with The Jockey Club.

 Horses are required to have a Henneke body condition score (BCS) of 4 or higher in order to be cleared to compete at the 2019 Thoroughbred Makeover.

This requirement has been set to ensure that horses have enough fat and muscle reserve to be able to perform at the Makeover in a comfortable manner, as well as to set an example within the equestrian industry for horses successfully transitioned off the track.

“BCS of 4 is a widespread standard with equine welfare and health professionals indicating that a horse is in acceptable condition,” describes Dr. Shannon Reed, the RRP’s consulting veterinarian. “It is the baseline standard used by welfare organizations and veterinarians that appropriate nutrition for individual animal needs is being provided. The Henneke System has been adopted as the measuring system that allows veterinarians and equine health professionals to effectively communicate the status of a horse muscle and fat reserve.”

Veterinarians will also measure each horse’s vital signs, including temperature, pulse and respiration as indicators of good health, and will also examine each horse for any extensive blemishes or areas of swelling.

All horses will be examined at the walk on a straight line and in turns on firm ground for soundness. Barefoot horses may present in boots. While Makeover horses will not be jogged for the soundness exam, judges, stewards and show officials may remove any horse from competition that appears unsound for the discipline.

Year-long education

To help trainers be successful in preparing their horses to arrive at the Kentucky Horse Park ready to compete, the Retired Racehorse Project provided plenty of educational resources. These resources included webinars with equine nutritionists and podiatrists, information about the Henneke body condition score and how a score is achieved and encouragement of trainers to be proactive in addressing body condition concerns with their veterinarian and support team.

New for 2019, every trainer submitted a letter of reference from their veterinarian with their application to compete at the Thoroughbred Makeover that stated that the veterinarian had confidence that the trainer could successfully transition a horse to a second career with regard to overall health, wellness and care.


Best Conditioned Award

To recognize trainers who produced their horse for the 2019 Thoroughbred Makeover in peak condition, a Best Conditioned Award will be given in each of the Makeover’s ten disciplines. The award consists of a trophy halter by Clever With Leather and was generously sponsored by Nina Bonnie.

“Bringing a horse to the Thoroughbred Makeover is a huge commitment of time, effort and dollars. I sponsored the Best Conditioned Award to be given to the trainer who, realizing the importance of conditioning not only through physical exercise, but feeding and grooming, presents a horse that stands out above the rest in each division,” said Nina Bonnie.

“The Makeover has been tremendously effective in engaging more equestrians in the retraining and conditioning of Thoroughbreds after racing, and this award is aimed at rewarding those who take a comprehensive approach to preparing their horse for not only this competition, but for their future as sport horses,” added Bonnie.

The Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium, presented by Thoroughbred Charities of America, is the largest and most lucrative retraining competition for Thoroughbred ex-racehorses in the world. The competition is intended to inspire trainers to become involved in transitioning these horses to second careers, and the National Symposium serves to educate the people involved in the care, training and sale of these horses to responsible owners.

For more information about the 2019 Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium, which takes place October 2-5 at the Kentucky Horse Park, please visit

Inaugural Thoroughbred Aftercare Summit to be Held at Thoroughbred Makeover

Panelists at a 2018 seminar at the Thoroughbred Makeover. Photo by Anne Litz.

On October 1, the Thoroughbred Charities of America (TCA), Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA), Thoroughbred Incentive Program and Retired Racehorse Project (RRP) will join together to present the inaugural Thoroughbred Aftercare Summit, a conference focused on education and networking among those with a professional interest in the retraining and rehoming of Thoroughbreds after racing. The conference will be held the day before the start of preliminary competition at the Retired Racehorse Project’s annual Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium, presented by Thoroughbred Charities of America.

The Thoroughbred Aftercare Summit will focus on topics such as finance, business management, board governance and grant and sponsorship-seeking best-practices. There will also be a roundtable session for individuals and organizations to discuss and idea-share on challenges affecting them.

“The Thoroughbred Makeover is the perfect opportunity to convene aftercare advocates for a couple hours to learn, discuss and share some best business practices,” said Erin Crady, executive director of TCA. “The session may be particularly helpful for grant-seeking nonprofit aftercare organizations, however most topics will be generalizable to for-profit retraining and rehoming operations as well.”

Featured speakers will include Mike Meuser, TAA president and a Lexington-based attorney with the law firm of Miller, Griffin & Marks whose specialty includes equine law and civil litigation, and Jen Shah, TAA treasurer and a CPA who serves as the head of equine services for Dean Dorton, a Lexington-based financial consulting firm, as well as representatives from grant-funding organizations, including the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, Thoroughbred Charities of America, ASPCA and The Right Horse Initiative.

“We at the TAA are thankful for Mike Meuser and Jen Shah’s leadership and knowledge about both the nonprofit sector and the equine industry, and we think this will be a great experience for TAA-accredited organizations and those wanting to become accredited to learn from these experts,” said TAA operations consultant Stacie Clark.

The conference is a collaboration of the four presenting organizations in an effort to bring together the Thoroughbred aftercare community.

“Whether we work in the for-profit sector, for a non-profit organization or work to rehome or otherwise advocate for Thoroughbreds after racing as private individuals, we all often face similar challenges as both horse people and as professionals,” said Jen Roytz, executive director of the Retired Racehorse Project. “We worked hard to curate a collection of topics and speakers for this inaugural Summit that will offer valuable insight to those in all sectors of Thoroughbred aftercare, and we look forward to expanding the subjects broached in future years.”

Tickets for the Thoroughbred Aftercare Summit are free, however limited seating is available, so those planning to attend are asked to register. Parking at the Kentucky Horse Park is $5 per car without a Kentucky Horse Park or Thoroughbred Makeover parking pass.

The Thoroughbred Aftercare Summit will be held in the Covered Arena Lounge at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky on Oct. 1 from 3 to 5 p.m. It is held in conjunction with the $100,000 Thoroughbred Makeover, a training competition for horses in their first year of retraining after retirement from racing. This year’s Makeover will feature approximately 450 Thoroughbreds coming from 40 states and four provinces to compete across 10 disciplines, including barrel racing, competitive trail, dressage, eventing, field hunters, freestyle, polo, ranch work, show hunter and show jumping. The full schedule of events can be found at

For more information on the Thoroughbred Aftercare Summit, go to the designated webpage at

Thoroughbred Makeover’s ASPCA Makeover Marketplace Offers One-Stop Sport Horse Shopping

Bethel Wildcat, a 6-year-old 16.1-hand gelding (Discreet Cat x Excess’s Best, by In Excess), is one event prospect being offered for sale through the Marketplace. Since beginning retraining in February 2019, he has has won each of his three schooling events to date, including two horse trials and a jumper derby. Check out his listing here. Photo via

In support of helping more retired racehorses find second careers and new homes as sport horses and recreational mounts, the Retired Racehorse Project is once again facilitating the ASPCA Makeover Marketplace at the 2019 Thoroughbred Makeover, October 2-5 at the Kentucky Horse Park. Made possible by a generous grant from the ASPCA, the Makeover Marketplace is expected to feature over 100 restarted Thoroughbred ex-racehorses ready for the next chapter in a variety of careers.

The Makeover Marketplace has made the Thoroughbred horse shopping experience as easy and enjoyable as possible. All in one venue, buyers can:

  • Watch horses compete in one or two of ten disciplines, including barrel racing, competitive trail, dressage, eventing, field hunter, freestyle, polo, show hunter, show jumper and ranch work.
  • Try horses in a designated trial ring right at the Kentucky Horse Park
  • Vet horses with veterinarians from Hagyard Equine Medical Institute on call all weekend

Recognize this guy? It’s Any Given Royal, a 2009 15.3-hand gelding (Any Given Saturday x Really Royal, by Unreal Zeal) — better known as “George” to our readers from his EN blog updates by owner Jennifer Reisenbichler. He has already been out and about at mini-trials this year, and Jennifer says, ” I would love to see him move up the levels with the right partner, Prelim/CCI2* could very well be in his wheelhouse. I have plans to move him up to Novice and step into recognized competition before the Makeover, so stay tuned for updates!” View his listing here. Photo via

The Makeover Marketplace offers an amazing opportunity to watch, try and vet multiple prospects in one weekend — instead of burning time driving all over the country to chase prospects.

Makeover trainers work hard to prepare their horses for the Thoroughbred Makeover and its big atmosphere: many of the horses offered for sale at the Marketplace will have plenty of off-property and show experience (check out #FieldTripFriday on Retired Racehorse Project social media), and many trainers are documenting every step of their process on social media leading up to the Makeover itself.

“Their racing careers may have ended, but these retirees still have much to offer as they transition into new and varied careers,” said Dr. Emily Weiss, vice president of ASPCA Equine Welfare. “Helping horses transition seamlessly to new careers and safe homes is vital to helping us achieve our goal of ensuring good welfare for all equines, and we are proud to be supporting the Thoroughbred Makeover Marketplace.”

Here’s a chestnut mare we can get behind: Tapanista is a 2015 16.3-hand mare
(K One King x Atlantic Tap, by Stormy Atlantic) whose main main focus has been in the hunters but has shown promise at local horse trials and dressage shows as well. View her listing here. Photo via

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to shop over 100 horses in one weekend: view the online catalog now. Trainers will be continuing to add their horses through July 31st and updating existing ads through the Makeover itself, so check back frequently for new listings and updates. Many trainers will also provide their social media links so you can follow each horse’s individual progress. In August, ride times and stall assignments will be posted so you can find the horses you want to see.

Need a hard copy? Sign up for the Marketplace catalog. The catalog will be printed and mailed in August so you can start planning your trip to Kentucky!

Learn more about the 2019 RPP Thoroughbred Makeover here.

Best of HN: 4 Farm Chores That Are Absolutely The Worst

Photo by Pixabay/CC.

Keeping your horses yourself is essentially one long non-stop chorefest, but there are a few chores that are standouts for being basically the worst things ever. Kristen Kovatch counts down her personal list.

Horses are a lot of work, obviously. But while some of those nonstop chores are therapeutic — mucking stalls is as good as meditation, as far as I’m concerned, and there’s something I find incredibly rewarding about bucking hay every summer, as examples — there are a few that I absolutely, positively do not enjoy every time they come up in the rotation.

These four chores are basically THE worst.

Hanging gates: Look, unless you’re some sort of magician, this job is basically impossible without at least one friend and the patience of saints, plus the upper body strength to casually wiggle a 10- or 12-foot panel by fractions of an inch in the air while someone says “up… no, I meant down… wait… too far… down again… no, a little up… hang on…” If you can make it through without clubbing your friend in the head while they try to dictate how you should be holding up your end, good for you. But even that magical moment when both hinge pins set just so and the whole thing locks into place and swings freely is not enough to make up for that truly excruciating exercise in patience.

Putting sliding doors back on their rollers: Admittedly, this is a chore that can be easily avoided if you can avoid slinging your sliding doors too far or maintaining the little pieces that actually keep the thing from going too far in the first place, but the knuckle-busting process of wrestling a barn door back onto that little roller so you can actually close the barn up for the night goes on the list of “things that make me shriek out loud in abject frustration.”

Cobwebbing: I have yet to find the exact combination of hoodie sweatshirt, hat, safety glasses and bandanna tied bandit-style over my nose and mouth that prevents me from inhaling what I imagine is some terrible concoction of powdered spider webs, dust, hay chaff, dead flies and live spiders (admittedly, my horses don’t live inside, so I also don’t cobweb as frequently as I ought to without that impetus of immediate equine health forcing my hand). If you can cobweb and still look like not a crazy person covered in schmutz when you’re done, please share your secret.

Cleaning drains: This is THE WORST. There is no drain cover yet invented that does not still occasionally allow hay, dirt, partially-dissolved manure balls, extraneous mane or tail hair, mud, small rocks and whatever stuff you hosed off the dog when they came in smelling like death to wash down the drain and inevitably clog up the proceedings, meaning that every now and then you have to slip on a breeder sleeve, knowing full well that that sucker will break anyway in the next two minutes and you might as well just go in bare, and manually fish out all of that junk while getting yourself soaking wet.

What would you put on your personal list? Tell us in the comments section. Go riding!

Best of HN: US Teams Announced for 2019 Regional Maccabi Games

Team USA 2017. All photos courtesy of Entrigue Consulting

This summer, Maccabi USA will be sending a combined delegation of approximately 700 team members to represent the USA delegation at the Pan American Maccabi Games and European Maccabi Games. The Pan Am Games will take place July 5-15 in Mexico City, Mexico and the European Games will take place July 28-August 7 in Budapest, Hungary.

The Games are hosted by the Confederacion Latinoamericana Maccabi (CLAM) and the European Maccabi Confederation, respectively. Both Games are conducted in cooperation with Maccabi World Union and are held every four years, two years after the Maccabiah is held. The Pan American and European Games are a high-level athletic competition for Jewish athletes all over the world aimed at connecting Jews from the Diaspora. Similar to the Olympics, Jewish athletes from all over the world will compete in sports including basketball, tennis, soccer, swimming, fencing, equestrian and more. Maccabi USA is designated by the US Olympic Committee as one of its Multi-Sport Organizations.

Maccabi USA European Games Equestrian Chair Sandra Cohen along with Head Coach Rebecca Cord are pleased to announce the Equestrian Team for the European Games. Cohen was a member of the Open Equestrian team at the 2015 European Maccabi Games in Berlin.

Sandra Cohen at Berlin

Head Coach Cord is the Head Dressage Trainer at Timberlane Equestrian and owner of Rebecca Cord Dressage. The Dressage team members are Kelly Artz of Corona, CA; Rebecca Cord of West Grove, PA; Connor Giesselman of Ocala, FL; and Leah Marks of Atlanta, GA. The jumpers are Carly Dvorkin of Parkland, FL,  Arly Golombek, Detroit Michigan, and Andrea Glazer of Louisville, KY. The team will attend a weeklong training camp hosted by the high-performance dressage farm, Mariakalnok Dressage Center, just 2 hours outside of Budapest. As tradition with the Maccabi Games, riders will “catch ride” horses leased or drawn from a pool, selecting their horses from Hungarian FEI Dressage rider’s Robert Acs and Aniko Losonczy’s stable for the games.

Rebecca Cord

Maccabi USA Pan American Games Equestrian Chair Sloan Barnett along with Head Coach Daniel Bluman are pleased to announce the Equestrian Team for the Pan Am Games.

Head Coach Bluman is a Colombian Israeli Olympic show jumping rider. He represented Colombia at the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics, placing 20th individually at the 2012 Games. He has been riding for Israel since 2016 and has competed at the 2010 and 2014 World Equestrian Games as well as two Pan American Games. The athletes are Violet Barnett of San Francisco, CA; Isabel Coxe of Palo Alto, CA; Isabela De Sousa of Lexington, KY; Allison Epstein of Manhasset, NY; Alison Raich of Pacific Palisades, CA; Alexa Schwitzer of Muttontown, NY; Alexis Sokolov of Rancho Santa Fe, CA; and Stella Wasserman of Los Angeles, CA.

The athletes will compete for team and individual medals riding the FEI Challenge Tests and in show jumpng competitions.

Maccabi USA builds Jewish pride through sports, generating the emotional intensity, high ideals, and powerful camaraderie of competition.  Maccabi USA connect athletes, volunteers, and supporters with the global Jewish community.  The athletic, educational, and cultural experiences build Jewish identity, perpetuate Jewish continuity worldwide, and strengthen support for the State of Israel.

About the organization:

Maccabi USA (MUSA) is a federally-recognized not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization with an extensive history of enriching Jewish lives through athletic, cultural and educational programs.  The organization is the official sponsor of the United States Team to the World Maccabiah Games, and the Pan American and European Maccabi Games, as well as a sponsor of the JCC Maccabi Games for teens in North America.  As the official Maccabi representative in the U.S., Maccabi USA supports Jewish athletic endeavors, enhanced by cultural and educational activities in the United States, Israel and throughout the Diaspora.

MUSA develops, promotes and supports international, national and regional athletic-based activities and facilities It strives to provide Jewish athletes all over the world the opportunity to share their heritage and customs in competitive athletic settings. MUSA supports programs that embody the Maccabi ideals of Jewish Continuity, Zionism and Excellence in Sport.  Maccabi USA Builds Jewish Pride Through Sports.

Maccabi USA has been selected by the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) as a Multi-Sport Organization (MSO). The nonprofit organization becomes one of 35 MSOs nationwide to be recognized by the USOC for its ability to cultivate a national interest in sport and increase opportunities for participation internationally, nationally and at the grassroots level.

2019 Preakness Stakes Need-to-Know Guide + Field Preview

The 2016 Preakness Stakes. Flickr/Maryland GovPics/CC.

Thirteen horses will be contending for the second jewel of the Triple Crown on Saturday at the 144th running of the Preakness Stakes. While there is no Triple Crown on the line this year, the Preakness could still be a career-shaping race for the thirteen horses who will break from the gate for the black-eyed susans.

All the 2019 Preakness Links You Need: 

Where: Pimlico Race Course, Baltimore, Maryland

When: Saturday, May 18

Post time: 6:48 PM ET

Purse: $1.5 million

Distance: A mile and three sixteenths over dirt

TV: Starting at 2:30 PM ET on NBC Sports Network; moves to NBC at 5 PM

Live stream: NBC Sports Live Extra: pre-race coverage starts at 2:30 PM ET (cable subscription is required)

Stats: For details about each horse, see You can also get a quick preview of the field (and vote in our poll!) by reading our coverage here.

Picks worth pondering: ForbesNew York TimesWashington PostBleacher Report

Online Betting: If you’re looking to up the ante, a variety of online betting sites are at your service. We recommend for ease of use – it has all the bells and whistles for experienced bettors, but it’s simple enough for novices to use as well. is another useful resource. Gamble responsibly.

…plus one you don’t.

The Preakness: Remembering Pimlico infield’s ‘Running of the Urinals’. Because why not. Keep it classy, Preakness.

The Field

Post Position 1: War of Will (4-1)
Bay colt by War Front, bred in Kentucky by Flaxman Holdings Limited
Owned by Gary Barber
Trained by Mark Casse
Ridden by Tyler Gafflione
Claims to fame: winner of the G2 Risen Star Stakes and G3 LeComte Stakes, second in the G1 Summer Stakes

War of Will finished seventh in the Kentucky Derby, and was one of the horses affected in the controversial move by Maximum Security.

Post Position 2: Bourbon War (12-1)
Bay colt by Tapit, bred in Kentucky by Conquest Stables
Owned by Bourbon Lane Stable and Lake Star Stable
Trained by Mark A. Hennig
Ridden by Irad Ortiz
Claims to fame: second in the G2 Fountain of Youth

Bourbon War has yet to win a stakes race; his last start was a fourth-place finish in the Florida Derby.

Post Position 3: Warrior’s Charge (12-1)
Dark bay/brown colt by Munnings, bred in Florida by Al Shaquab Racing
Owned by Ten Strike Racing and Madaket Stables
Trained by Brad Cox
Ridden by Javier Castellano
Claims to fame: has never run in a stakes

This is a massive step up in class for Warrior’s Charge, but stranger things have happened… or have they?

Post Position 4: Improbable (5-2)
Chestnut colt by City Zip, bred in Kentucky by St. George Farm LLC & G. Watts Humphrey Jr.
Owned by WinStar Farm LLC, China Horse Club International Ltd and Starlight Racing
Trained by Bob Baffert
Ridden by Mike Smith
Claims to fame: winner of the G1 Los Alamitos CashCall Futurity, second in the G1 Arkansas Derby and G2 Rebel Stakes

Improbable, with his all-star connections (the same combination of trainer, owner and jockey as Justify… just sayin’) is the easy morning line favorite. He finished fifth in the Kentucky Derby, becoming officially fourth with the disqualification of Maximum Security.

Post Position 5: Owendale (10-1)
Bay colt by Into Mischief, bred in Kentucky by Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings
Owned by Rupp Racing
Trained by Brad Cox
Ridden by Florent Geroux
Claims to fame: winner of the G3 Stonestreet Lexington Stakes

Owendale’s last start was his win in the Stonestreet Lexington Stakes. He is Brad Cox’ second trainee in this race.

Post Position 6: Market King (30-1)
Bay colt by Into Mischief, bred in Kentucky by Flaxman Holdings Limited
Owned by Robert Baker and William Mack
Trained by D. Wayne Lukas
Ridden by Jon Kenton Court
Claims to fame: third in the G2 Rebel Stakes

Market King had a disappointing run in his most recent start, the Blue Grass Stakes, while he was a bit stronger in the Rebel Stakes.

Post Position 7: Alwaysmining (8-1)
Dark bay/brown colt, bred in Maryland by Avla Pitts
Owned by Runnymede Racing
Trained by Kelly Rubley
Ridden by Daniel Centeno
Claims to fame: black type stakes winner

Alwaysmining is an accomplished black type stakes winner, with 12 starts and seven wins already under his belt. A win at Pimlico for a Maryland-bred would be a hometown success story.

Post Position 8: Signalman (30-1)
Bay colt by General Quarters, bred in Kentucky by Monticule
Owned by Tommie M. Lewis, Steve Crabtree, Dean Demaree, David Bernsen, Jim Chambers, Magdalena Racing
Trained by Ken McPeek
Ridden by Brian Hernandez
Claims to fame: winner of the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, second in the G1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity, third in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and G2 Blue Grass Stakes

While Signalman doesn’t have the major wins of some of the other contenders, he’s certainly clashed with them before and come away respectably.

Post Position 9: Bodexpress (20-1)
Bay colt by Bodemeister, bred in Kentucky by Martha Jane Mulholland
Owned by Top Racing LLC, Global Thoroughbred, GDS Racing Stable
Trained by Gustavo Delgado
Ridden by John Velazquez
Claims to fame: second in the G1 Florida Derby

Bodexpress finished 13th in the Kentucky Derby, and is back for redemption, looking to improve on his second place in the Florida Derby. He’s never won a race.

Post Position 10: Everfast (50-1)
Bay colt by Take Charge Indy, bred in Kentucky by Extern Developments
Owned by Calumet Farm
Trained by Dale Romans
Ridden by Joel Rosario
Claims to fame: second in the G2 Holy Bull Stakes

Everfast has certainly given stakes races a good shot, but his recent performances have been fairly poor. He’s the long shot.

Post Position 11: Laughing Fox (20-1)
Chestnut colt by Union Rags, bred in Kentucky by Chester and Anne Prince
Owned by Alex and JoAnn Lieblong
Trained by Steve Asmussen
Ridden by Ricardo Santana
Claims to fame: black type stakes winner

Laughing Fox has never placed better than fourth in a graded stakes, but his most recent start was a win in the Oaklawn Invitational.

Post Position 12: Anothertwistafate (6-1)
Dark bay/brown colt by Scat Daddy, bred in Kentucky by Pursuit of Success
Owned by Peter Redekop
Trained by Blaine Wright
Ridden by Jose Ortiz
Claims to fame: second in the G3 Sunland Park Derby and Stonestreet Lexington Stakes

Anothertwistafate did not qualify for the Kentucky Derby, but his recent form has been improving in graded stakes.

Post Position 13: Win Win Win (15-1)
Dark bay/brown colt by Hat Trick, bred in Florida by Live Oak Stud
Owned by Live Oak Plantation
Trained by Michael Trombetta
Ridden by Julian Pimental
Claims to fame: second in the G2 Blue Grass Stakes, third in the G2 Tampa Bay Derby

Win Win Win was a fan favorite for the Kentucky Derby where he finished 10th (placing ninth).

2019 Kentucky Derby Need-to-Know Guide + Field Preview

California Chrome wins the 2014 Kentucky Derby. Flickr/Bill Brine/CC Photo.

Here’s the ultimate quick guide to the 2019 Kentucky Derby field — because as the resident horse person, we know you’ll get grilled at your Derby party for the inside scoop.

“The fastest two minutes in sports” goes off on Saturday, May 4 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, and as always, the field is full of intrigue, favorites and long shots. Headed to a Derby party? Want to fill up on trivia about the 20 horses entered in this year’s race? We’ve got the quick and dirty crib sheet that will give you the rundown on the field — make sure you vote in our poll for who you think will win this year!

If you’re really serious about picking based on workouts and form, click here to watch a playlist of Derby workout videos. Odds listed are morning line as of press time.

All the 2019 Derby Links You Need: 

Where: Churchill Downs, Louisville, Kentucky

When: Saturday, May 4

Post time: 6:50 PM

Purse: $2 million

Distance: One mile and a quarter over dirt

How to watch: NBC will have televised broadcast starting at 2:30 PM EST on race day. Live stream is available via NBC Sports Live Extra, but a cable subscription is required. will stream the race; an account is required.

Stats: For details about each horse, including racing history, pedigree, post position and photos, check out For the quick and dirty guide, check out our field preview (and vote in our poll!)

Picks worth pondering: Washington PostNew York TimesChicago TribuneSports Illustrated

Online betting: If you’re looking to up the ante, a variety of online betting sites are at your service. We recommend for ease of use – it has all the bells and whistles for experienced bettors, but it’s simple enough for novices to use as well. Brisnet.comis another useful resource. Gamble responsibly.

…plus one you don’t.

The Field 


Post Position 1: War of Will (20-1)
Bay Kentucky-bred colt by War Front bred by Flaxman Holdings Limited
Owned by Gary Barber
Trained by Mark Casse
Ridden by Tyler Gaffalione
Claims to fame: winner of the G3 LeComte Stakes and G2 Risen Star Stakes

War of Will has experience running on both turf and dirt; his sire War Front has developed a reputation for siring great turf runners but if War of Will’s performances in the LeComte and Risen Star are any indicator, he’s certainly not limited to just the grass! War of Will took some strange steps in his most recent performance, a distant ninth in the Louisiana Derby, but the colt seems to be back on form.

Post Position 2: Tax (20-1)
Dark bay Kentucky-bred gelding by Arch bred by Claiborne Farm and Adele B. Dilschneider
Owned by R. A. Hill Stable, Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Lynch, Hugh and Corms Racing Stable
Trained by Danny Gargan
Ridden by Junior Alvarado
Claims to fame: winner of the G3 Withers Stakes, second in the G2 Wood Memorial, third in the G2 Remsen Stakes

Tax showed improvement, moving up from a third in the Remsen to win the Withers Stakes. Aqueduct winners haven’t traditionally fared terribly well in the Kentucky Derby, with most of the recent winners taking southern routes to the first Saturday in May.

Post Position 3: By My Standards (20-1)
Bay Kentucky-bred colt by Goldencents bred by Don Ladd
Owned by Allied Racing Stable, LLC
Trained by W. Bret Calhoun
Ridden by Gabriel Saez
Claims to fame: winner of the G2 Louisiana Derby

By My Standards was an upset winner in the Louisiana Derby, going off at 22-1. This was the colt’s only stakes race of his career so far, having only broken his maiden one start prior in his fourth career race. Stranger things have happened at the Derby, however — By My Standards might be an interesting pick if he’s peaking at the right time.

Post Position 4: Gray Magician (50-1)
Gray Kentucky-bred colt by Graydar bred by Twin Creeks Farm
Owned by Wachtel Stable, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Gary Barber
Trained by Peter Miller
Ridden by Drayden Van Dyke
Claims to fame: second in the G2 UAE Derby

The globe-trotting Gray Magician hasn’t won a stakes race in the lead-up to the Kentucky Derby, and only broke his maiden in his fourth career start at the end of 2018 at Del Mar. He’s certainly been coast to coast AND to Dubai, but has yet to claim his big score. He’ll be a long shot on Saturday.

Post Position 5: Improbable (6-1)
Chestnut Kentucky-bred colt by City Zip bred by St. George Farm LLC and G. Watts Humphrey Jr.
Owned by WinStar Farm LLC, China Horse Club International Ltd. and Starlight Racing
Trained by Bob Baffert
Ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr.
Claims to fame: winner of the G1 Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity, second in the G2 Rebel Stakes and G1 Arkansas Derby

With Bob Baffert in his corner, plus the same combination of owners as last year’s Triple Crown winner Justify, it’s hard not to see a lot of appeal with Improbable (he even looks a little bit like Justify too, at a glance). The colt had two strong second-place finishes on his road to the Kentucky Derby and if he’s peaked at the right time, he should be a serious contender.

Post Position 6: Vekoma (20-1)
Chestnut Kentucky-bred colt by Candy Ride (ARG) bred by Alpha Delta Stables, LLC
Owned by R. A. Hill Stable and Gatsas Stables
Trained by George Weaver
Ridden by Javier Castellano
Claims to fame: winner of the G2 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes

The lightly-raced Vekoma has never placed lower than third — and his other three races have ended in wins. Whether or not he has the class and depth of experience to take on the rest of a strong field remains to be seen, however.

Post Position 7: Maximum Security (10-1)
Bay Kentucky-bred colt by New Year’s Day bred by Gary and Mary West Stables
Owned by Gary and Mary West
Trained by Jason Servis
Ridden by Luis Saez
Claims to fame: winner of the G1 Florida Derby

Maximum Security rocketed to fame quickly: he has a perfect four-for-four record, but made his leap from the claiming ranks to the Florida Derby with shocking ease. Can he keep the streak going in the Kentucky Derby, or will that fairy tale come to an end?

Post Position 8: Tacitus (10-1)
Gray Kentucky-bred colt by Tapit bred by Juddmonte Farms Inc
Owned by Juddmonte Farms
Trained by Bill Mott
Ridden by Jose Ortiz
Claims to fame: winner of the G2 Tampa Bay Derby and G2 Wood Memorial

Tacitus’ sire Tapit has certainly established himself as a breed shaper in recent years, so many are expecting great things from Tacitus. He’s certainly proven some ability with two wins on the road to the Kentucky Derby both in Florida and in New York, and with favorite Omaha Beach out of the running, Tacitus’ stock is rising.

Post Position 9: Plus Que Parfait (30-1)
Chestnut Kentucky-bred ridgeling by Point of Entry bred by Calloway Stables, LLC
Owned by Imperial Racing, LLC
Trained by Brendan Walsh
Ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr.
Claims to fame: winner of the G2 UAE Derby, second in the Fleur de Lis

With limited data to compare, it’s hard to say how UAE Derby winners traditionally fare in the Kentucky Derby with only Mendelssohn to go on — but Plus Que Parfait certainly had great success in Dubai for Derby first-time trainer Brendan Walsh. He’s certainly an interesting long shot.

Post Position 10: Cutting Humor (30-1)
Dark bay Kentucky-bred colt by First Samurai bred by Dell Hancock and Bernie Sams
Owned by Starlight Racing
Trained by Todd Pletcher
Ridden by Corey J. Lanerie
Claims to fame: winner of the G3 Sunland Park Derby

Cutting Humor does have a stakes victory to his name and the likes of Todd Pletcher on his side. Still, the Kentucky Derby seems like a tall order for this colt who will have his work cut out for him.

Post Position 11: Haikal (30-1)
Bay Kentucky-bred colt by Daaher bred by Shadwell Farm, LLC
Owned by Shadwell Stables
Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin
Ridden by Rajiv Maragh
Claims to fame: winner of the G3 Gotham Stakes and third in the G2 Wood Memorial

Haikal has certainly looked the part in his stakes races at Aqueduct, though the Derby will be his first start outside of his home track. He’s never finished worse than third.

Post Position 12: Omaha Beach

Post Position 13: Code of Honor (15-1)
Chestnut Kentucky-bred colt by Noble Mission bred by W. S. Farish
Owned by W. S. Farish
Trained by Claude R. McGaughey III
Ridden by John Velazquez
Claims to fame: winner of the G2 Fountain of Youth Stakes, second in the G1 Champagne Stakes, third in the Florida Derby

Code of Honor has certainly sparkled in the past, but doesn’t look like the most consistent entry. If the winning form of Code of Honor shows up on Derby Day, he may be a contender.

Post Position 14: Win Win Win (15-1)
Dark bay Florida-bred colt by Hat Trick (JPN) bred by Live Oak Stud
Owned by Live Oak Plantation
Trained by Michael J. Trombetta
Ridden by Julian Pimentel
Claims to fame: second in the G2 Blue Grass Stakes, third in the G2 Tampa Bay Derby

Win Win Win has never placed lower than third in his racing career, which includes two graded stakes as well as a listed and a black type. He hasn’t won a graded stakes race and the Derby field may be a tall order.

Post Position 15: Master Fencer (50-1)
Chestnut Japan-bred colt by Just A Way (JPN) bred by Katsumi Yoshizawa
Owned by Katsumi Yoshizawa
Trained by Koichi Tsunoda
Ridden by Julien Leparoux
Claims to fame: Japanese Road to the Kentucky Derby

Master Fencer is the Japanese qualifier for the Kentucky Derby, and while he has his work cut out for him to be considered a serious contender, his presence in the field is a positive sign for Japanese racing.

Post Position 16: Game Winner (9-2)
Bay Kentucky-bred colt by Candy Ride (ARG) bred by Summer Wind Equine
Owned by Gary and Mary West
Trained by Bob Baffert
Ridden by Joel Rosario
Claims to fame: winner of the G1 American Pharoah Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, second in the G1 Santa Anita Derby and G2 Rebel Stakes

The champion two-year-old colt has now been named the favorite after the scratch of Omaha Beach: he was undefeated as a juvenile, and finished a strong second in both of his 2019 starts. With Bob Baffert in his corner, he’s an easy pick as favorite.

Post Position 17: Roadster (6-1)
Gray Kentucky-bred colt by Quality Road bred by Stone Farm
Owned by Speedway Stable LLC
Trained by Bob Baffert
Ridden by Florent Geroux
Claims to fame: winner of the G1 Santa Anita Derby

The Santa Anita Derby has been a stepping stone en route to winning the Kentucky Derby for many recent stars, and Roadster is a strong candidate to follow in those footsteps with all-star connections.

Post Position 18: Long Range Toddy (30-1)
Dark bay Kentucky-bred colt by Take Charge Indy bred by Willis Horton Racing LLC
Owned by Willis Horton Racing LLC
Trained by Steven Asmussen
Ridden by Jon Court
Claims to fame: winner of the G2 Rebel Stakes, third in the G3 Southwest Stakes

Long Range Toddy put himself on the Derby map with his gritty victory in one split of the Rebel Stakes, defeating some key favorites. Whether or not he peaks at the right time remains to be seen.

Post Position 19: Spinoff (30-1)
Chestnut Kentucky-bred colt by Hard Spun bred by Wertheimer et Frere
Owned by Wertheimer et Frere
Trained by Todd Pletcher
Ridden by Manny Franco
Claims to fame: second in the G2 Louisiana Derby

The lightly-raced Spinoff has never placed below third, but he’s never won a graded stake. The Kentucky Derby would be a huge race for this colt.

Post Position 20: Country House (30-1)
Chestnut Kentucky-bred colt by Lookin At Lucky bred by J. V. Shields Jr.
Owned by Shields, Jr., Mrs. J. V., McFadden, Jr., E. J. M. and LNJ Foxwoods
Trained by Bill Mott
Ridden by Flavien Prat
Claims to fame: second in the G2 Risen Star Stakes and third in the G1 Arkansas Derby

It took Country House three attempts to break his maiden, but he then broke into graded stakes company and ran competitively. He’s still a long shot to win, but he may be a contender.

Post Position 21: Bodexpress (30-1)
Bay Kentucky-bred colt by Bodemeister bred by Martha Jane Mulholland
Owned by Top Racing, LLC, Global Thoroughbred and GDS Racing Stable
Trained by Gustavo Delgado
Ridden by Chris Landeros
Claims to fame: second in the G1 Florida Derby

Bodexpress is winless in five starts — could he finally break his maiden in the biggest race in the nation? That would be quite a feat… but by drawing into the Derby thanks to Omaha Beach’s scratch, Bodexpress has already surpassed expectations.

The Thoroughbreds of the 2019 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event

The Thoroughbred has long been revered as the ultimate horse for the sport of three-day eventing, so it’s no surprise that 12 entries in this year’s Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event chose them as their competitive partners.

The Retired Racehorse Project is again teaming up with Eventing Nation to tell you all you need to know about the Thoroughbreds who will be galloping across the rolling terrain at the Kentucky Horse Park the last weekend in April!

Horses being horses, we expect the list of entrants to change right up until the competition starts. We’ll indicate below when particular horses have scratched, and will keep this article up-to-date with the most current numbers we have.

TB stats 4 16Stats as of 4/16/19.

Of interest this year is that all 12 Thoroughbred starters were bred for racing, and seven of those horses did start on the track. Two were winners — Jessica Phoenix‘s mount Bogue Sound and Chris Talley‘s Unmarked Bills. In total, this year’s Thoroughbreds combined ran a total of 78 starts with earnings of $91,783. Unmarked Bills was the most successful of these, earning $67,250 with three wins in 24 starts.

The oldest Thoroughbred competing is Sound Prospect at age 17. (Update: Sound Prospect has since been withdrawn.) The youngest Thoroughbred is Unmarked Bills at age 10.

If you’ll be at the event, make sure to stop by the RRP booth #130 on the floor of the covered arena to pick up an order of go for the Thoroughbreds, and some logo wear to show your OTTB pride. You can find all of the Thoroughbred-centric activities going on throughout the weekend by clicking here.

If you’ll be following the action from home, bookmark Eventing Nation’s Land Rover Kentucky coverage for great photos and up to the minute coverage of everything going on at the Horse Park! We’ve also included links to the riders’ social media pages at the end of their horses’ bios below — just click on the Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter icons.

Read our previous years’ summaries of the OTTBs competing in Kentucky (note that not all of the horses profiled in the articles actually started the event):

2012 / 2013 / 2014 / 2015 / 2016 / 2017 / 2018


We’ll have a downloadable order of go as soon as ride times are published.

Jessica Phoenix and Bogue SoundJessica Phoenix and Bogue Sound. Photo courtesy of Eventing Nation.

BOGUE SOUND (Jessica Phoenix, CAN)
Amara Hoppner
Breeding: 2007 gelding by Crafty Shaw (Crafty Prospector) out of Carolina Blue (Victory Gallop)
Racing name: Bogue Sound (KY)
Racing record: 7 starts (1-1-1), $11,358
Breeder: James M. Herbener Jr.

When Bogue Sound, or “Bogie” as he’s called in the barn, sets foot back on the bluegrass at the Kentucky Horse Park, it’ll be a full-circle journey for the gelding: one of the photos that Jessica Phoenix first saw of Bogue Sound was the horse hacking out in a group at the park. Bogue Sound was originally owned and restarted by Sharon Shepard, a trainer in the Lexington, Kentucky area; Shepard sold the horse to Dorothy Crowell.

Crowell, herself an international event rider, knows a thing or two about off-track Thoroughbreds: her partnership with the legendary Molokai (JC: Surf Scene) included top-10 finishes at Badminton, Burghley and Kentucky, plus an individual silver medal at the 1994 World Equestrian Games. Crowell was also accepted as a 2019 Thoroughbred Makeover trainer.

“Bogue is one of those rare horses who has a caretaker personality,” Crowell details. “I would have thought he’d make an amazing horse for an amateur. And it wasn’t until one of the last jump schools before I sold him, I felt what he had. I looked at my husband and said ‘I think we’re wrong … this horse can really jump!'”

Bogue Sound ran in the maiden claiming ranks for his entire race career, retiring upon finally breaking his maiden. Crowell acquired Bogue Sound when the horse’s racing career was over and competed the horse through Training level. Amara Hoppner, who trained with Phoenix as a young rider, purchased the horse from Crowell and produced him to the 1* level. When Hoppner made a permanent switch to competing in the jumpers, Phoenix took over the ride on Bogue Sound.

“He has an insanely awesome jump,” Phoenix shares. “His forte is definitely cross country: he has an easy gallop and a consistent performance. He’s truly a joy to ride cross country; you cannot sit on a better jumping horse.”

Bogue Sound will be contesting the first 5* of his career in Kentucky. So far in 2019, the pair placed seventh in the Intermediate at Ocala Winter I, sixth in the Advanced at Red Hills International, and twelfth in the CCI4*-S at Chattahoochee Hills. As the horse returns “home” to Kentucky, one thing’s for sure — he’ll have a big local cheering squad from the Shepard and Crowell barns!

Pinney number: 43

Final score:

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Daniela Moguel and Cecelia MEX2Daniela Moguel and Cecelia. Photo courtesy of Eventing Nation.

CECELIA (Daniela Moguel, MEX)
Owners: Esperaza Alzola Navarro and Laura Margarita Henriquez Ripoll
Breeding: 2003 mare by Connecticut (Ogygian) out of Penny Stock (Spend A Buck)
Racing name: Constock (IA)
Racing record: unraced
Breeder: Timber Creek Farm

Daniela Moguel and Cecelia are back for their third run at Kentucky; the pair’s best finish to date was their Kentucky debut in 2016 where they finished 28th with no cross-country penalties. Moguel has the distinction of being the first rider to ever represent Mexico at Kentucky, which she’s done without any financial support from her national federation.

Cecelia is an unraced Iowa-bred who was campaigned through the then-three-star level with Leslie Chelstrom Lamb when Moguel’s supporters purchased the horse in 2014. Coached by Karen O’Connor (a poster of whom inspired Moguel at age 13 to be an eventer!), Moguel and Cecelia have enjoyed success at the upper levels, most recently at the CCI4*-S finishing 17th and 14th at Red Hills International and the Fork at Tryon, respectively. In addition to being the first pair to represent Mexico at Kentucky, they were also the first pair to represent Mexcio in eventing at a World Equestrian Games; the pair finished 44th in 2018 in Tryon.

Cecelia earned the Best Thoroughbred Mare award at Fair Hill 4* in 2017, and Moguel credits her blood with the partnership’s success. “I can’t count the number of times I’ve walked a cross-country course and said to myself, ‘I’m so happy I have a Thoroughbred.’ There’s no better feeling on cross-country than being on a Thoroughbred.”

Pinney number: 20

Final score:

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Marcelo Tosi and Glenfly (BRA). Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

GLENFLY (Marcelo Tosi, BRA)
Owner: rider
Breeding: 2005 gelding by Presenting (Mtoto) out of Dorans Glen (Over the River)
Racing name: Glenfly (IRE)
Racing record: 9 starts (0-0-0), $0
Breeder: R. Ryan

Sired by Presenting, the Irish-based leading National Hunt stallion, Glenfly failed to live up to likely expectations of greatness in jump racing: given nine starts over three years, he never placed in the money. Less than 18 months years after retiring from England’s hurdle tracks, however, Glenfly was making his CCI2*-S debut in 2013 under Marcelo Tosi, a professional originally from Brazil operating out of the UK.

Through the end of 2014, the partnership continued to compete at the CCI2* and 3* level; Tosi relocated back to his native Brazil by the start of the 2015 season. In August of 2015, they tackled the test event for the looming 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, finishing third overall with one of only two double-clear cross country rounds.

Named to Brazil’s World Equestrian Games eventing team, Tosi and Glenfly took their first trip to the U.S. in 2018, where they completed the cross country with only time penalties; ultimately, the pair finished 53rd.

Tosi and Glenfly have won five events in Brazil at the 3* and 4* level. This will be their first attempt at a 5* track and first trip to Kentucky, representing the continued growth of Brazilian eventing.

Pinney number: 32

Final score:


Andrea BaxterAndrea Baxter and Indy 500. Photo courtesy of Eventing Nation.

INDY 500 (Andrea Baxter, USA)
Owner: rider
Breeding: 2005 mare by Cromwell (A.P. Indy) out of Tensofthousands (Spend A Buck)
Racing name: My Gifted Indyanna (CA)
Racing record: unraced
Breeder: Clyde and Colleen Hunsaker

Some 5* stories have unlikely beginnings, and “Indy’s” route to Kentucky is certainly a winding road: unraced, due to to the liquidation of her breeding farm when she was a weanling, Indy was purchased by Linda Miller and subsequently passed over as a retraining prospect by Andrea Baxter twice. The third time proved to be the charm: Baxter took Indy on as a resale project when the mare was four when her primary horse was sidelined with injury.

Baxter competed Indy 500 through Training, opting to breed her in 2010 to the Holsteiner stallion Linaro. (Baxter’s family operates Twin Rivers Ranch in Paso Robles, CA, a competition venue and a training, lesson and breeding program: all of her horses have been either homebreds or off-track Thoroughbreds.) The resulting offspring, named Laguna Seca, has competed through Preliminary with Tamie Smith. While Laguna Seca is developing into a talented athlete, Indy didn’t display a lot of love for motherhood, so she returned to the competition string. From that point on, it was onward and upward, moving through the levels on the West Coast.

Baxter and Indy have made the long haul from California to Kentucky twice: they finished 35th in 2017 and 31st in 2018. They also completed Burghley in 2018, finishing 36th. This year, the pair placed fifth at the CCI4*-S at Galway Downs.

Pinney number: 38

Final score:


Buck Davidson and Jak My StyleBuck Davidson and Jak My Style. Photo courtesy of Eventing Nation.

JAK MY STYLE (Buck Davidson, USA)
Owner: Kathleen Cuca
Breeding: 2005 Thoroughbred
Racing name: unregistered
Racing record: unraced
Breeder: unknown

If there was ever a rags-to-riches story of a horse with so many unknowns in his history making it to the upper levels of the sport, that story is embodied in Jak My Style.

What we do know about “Jak’s” background is that he was bred to race: never tattooed or registered, the gelding did enter training but notoriously dumped most of his riders. An estate sale broke up the entire farm in New Jersey, and the 3-year-old Jak, without papers, was purchased by a local family with intentions of training him in hunters and jumpers.

57277923 2234322200153146 157742921737568256 nJak My Style with Matthew Bryner. Photo courtesy of Matthew Bryner.

“He was pretty naughty,” laughs Matthew Bryner. “He was not cut out to be a hunter.” Bryner, who operated out of a nearby farm to where Jak lived, took the horse on as a 7-year-old  — but Jak had other plans, regularly jumping the four-board fence to gallop back home. While the horse was clearly blessed with natural talent, it took a little bit of time for Bryner to work through his quirks.

But once he and Jak had reached an understanding — Bryner shares that at one point he whispered in the horse’s ear “you could make it to Kentucky if you stop trying to dump me” — it was as though a switch had been flipped. The combination competed through Advanced and CCI3*-S before Bryner made the decision to offer the horse for sale. He was purchased by Kathleen Cuca, with Justine Dutton taking over the ride. Dutton and Jak competed through CCI4*-L before suffering a rotational fall: Jak was unhurt, but Dutton was sent to the ICU.

Buck Davidson then took over the ride and piloted Jak to top-10 finishes at CCI4*-S and CCI4*-L. An injury sidelined Jak for much of 2018, but the combination came back with a vengeance in 2019: they placed ninth in the Open Preliminary at Rocking Horse, 17th in the Open Intermediate at Ocala Winter Horse Trials, seventh in the Advanced at Carolina International and most recently won the Advanced at Chattahoochee Hills.

Buck Davidson has an appreciation for Thoroughbreds himself. “Thoroughbreds are so smart and willing and trainable. If you can explain things to them and encourage them, then they’ll do anything for you.”

Jak My Style may have no bigger fan in the crowd at Kentucky than Bryner, who credits the horse with opening many doors for him as a horseman. For a horse with such an obscure beginning, Jak’s story is a fairy tale indeed.

Pinney number: 28

Final score:

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Joe Meyer and Johnny RoyaleJoe Meyer and Johnny Royale. Photo courtesy of Eventing Nation.

Owner: Team Johnny Syndicate
Breeding: 2008 gelding by the New Zealand stallion His Royal Highness (Grosvenor) out of the New Zealand mare Chivaney (Tights)
Racing name: Chivas Royale (NZ)
Racing record: 8 starts (0-0-0), $170
Breeder: John Wheeler

A minor injury and a little bad luck prevented this New Zealand-bred from competing last year, but one year later the Team Johnny Syndicate’s Johnny Royale is poised to make his CCI5* debut at Kentucky. As a “New Zealand ten-year-old,” Johnny Royale’s career is really just beginning.

Originally purchased by investors as an Sdvanced prospect with the intent to resell, Johnny Royale quickly proved to Joe Meyer that he was the real deal; the investors provided the opportunity to syndicate and keep the horse. After withdrawing from Kentucky last April, the pair had an outstanding fall season, capped with a fourth-place finish at the Ocala Jockey Club in November. This spring, they’ve placed top ten in three of their four outings, including the Intermediate at Rocking Horse I &II H.T. and the CCI4*-S at Red Hills International.

Johnny Royale was originally brought to the UK by Lizzie Green after a racing career of eight starts and just $170 in earnings; the pair competed through Novice (the UK equivalent of Preliminary) before he was purchased by Meyer in 2015 and brought to the U.S. When asked what made Johnny Royale a special horse, Meyer quipped, “he’s a New Zealander, and so am I!”

More seriously, Meyer describes Johnny as “comfortable”: “I’ve ridden horses similar to him a lot. I knew he had weaknesses, of course, but I was comfortable on him, with his fast gallop and his scopey jump.”

The Thoroughbred is the perfect horse for the job, as far as Meyer is concerned: “I’d rather ride a Thoroughbred than any of the other horses that are a bit more warmblooded. At the end of cross country, you can just shake the reins at a Thoroughbred and they’ll find another gear.”

Pinney number: 15

Final score:

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Paddy the CaddyErin Sylvester and Paddy the Caddy. Photo courtesy of Eventing Nation.

PADDY THE CADDY (Erin Sylvester, USA)
Owner: Frank McEntee
Breeding: 2007 gelding by the Irish stallion Azamour (Night Shift) out of Slamy (Grand Slam)
Racing name: Paddy the Caddy (IRE)
Racing record: unraced
Breeder: Frank McEntee & David O’Reilly

The stars never really aligned for Paddy the Caddy to become a racehorse: bred and started in Ireland, “Paddy” was too small to be a yearling sales prospect. Owner Frank McEntee shipped him to the U.S. to train under Graham Motion, but little things prevented the horse from ever making his first start — though he did mark four timed workouts in 2010 and 2011. McEntee finally took the horse home and turned him out. Coincidentally, McEntee’s daughter was taking lessons from eventer Erin Sylvester, so after six months, he asked Sylvester if she could restart the horse and get him quiet enough to make a riding prospect for his daughter.

After two months, Sylvester called McEntee with a new plan: turn Paddy into an eventing horse. McEntee drove all the way to the horse’s debut event just in time to see him drop the first three rails in show jumping — but fortunately, there was nowhere to go but up, and under careful and patient management by Sylvester with plenty of guidance from trainers including Boyd and Silva Martin, Phillip Dutton and Michael Matz, Paddy slowly worked his way up the levels.

2017 was a breakout year for Sylvester and Paddy, including a win at the CCI4*-L at Rebecca Farm in Kalispell, Montana, as well as a third place finish at the Fair Hill CCI4*-L in Maryland. In 2018, Paddy made his rookie debut at Kentucky, finishing clear and within the time on cross country despite losing a shoe partway through the course. That lost shoe would come back to haunt the pair the following morning when Paddy did not pass the final veterinary inspection prior to show jumping.

Sylvester and Paddy finished second at Bromont in the CCI3*-S and second in the Ocala Jockey Club International to wrap up 2018. This year, they’ve placed fourth in the Advanced at Pine Top H.T.

Pinney number: 34

Final score:

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Allie Knowles and Sound ProspectAlexandra Knowles and Sound Prospect. Photo courtesy of Eventing Nation.

Owner: Sound Prospect LLC
Breeding: 2002 gelding by Eastern Echo (Damascus) out of Miners Girl (Miner’s Mark)
Racing name: Sound Prospect (KY)
Racing record: 13 starts (0-2-1), $2,546
Breeder: Bradyleigh Farms Inc.
Auction: 2003 Keeneland January Horses of All Ages Sale: $10,000

From the first ride, Tessa Beckett knew Sound Prospect was special. Just a few days after his last race, Beckett — who was working as a gallop girl for a Washington trainer at the age of 13 — hopped on “Sounder” and fell in love with his personality, plus his good conformation. In the market for a new riding horse, she brought Sounder home and started training in eventing.

SoundProspectTrackSounder on the track. Photos courtesy of Tessa Beckett.
Beckett produced Sounder through the then 2* level, including a fourth place individual finish at the 2010 North American Junior/Young Rider Championships. In preparation for NAJYRC, Beckett had started training with Hawley Bennett, who immediately saw the horse’s potential. When Beckett’s interest in eventing waned in 2013, Allie Knowles — another connection through Bennett — put together a syndicate to purchase Sounder.

It took about two years for Knowles and Sounder to really click, but their list of top-ten finishes in 2015 really put them on the map — their performances earned them the 2015 Rood & Riddle Thoroughbred Sport Horse of the Year Award. 2015 was also the year that the pair contended their first trip to Kentucky, where Knowles elected to retire on cross country.

They returned to Kentucky in 2016 in top form after a second-place finish at the end of 2015 at Galway Downs; this Kentucky attempt culminated with a finish in 14th place and no cross-country penalties after a scrappy round in which Knowles really felt their partnership gel. She describes her relationship with Sounder: “The oneness that he and I have [on course], I haven’t felt with any horse before or since. I just think something, and it translates through. So we’re very fast and very efficient — there’s no discussion. It’s just the best adrenaline rush. He’s very special.”

Already in 2019, Knowles and Sounder won the Open Preliminary at Rocking Horse H.T. and placed second in the Open Preliminary at Ocala Winter H.T. They unfortunately had a TE in show jumping at Carolina International, and elected to retire at Chattahoochee Hills.

Pinney number: 19

Final score:

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Ashley JohnsonAshley Johnson and Tactical Maneuver. Photo courtesy of Eventing Nation.

Owner: rider
Breeding: 2005 gelding by Thunder Gulch (Gulch) out of Chelle Spendabuck (Dare and Go)
Racing name: Shykee’s Thunder (FL)
Racing record: 12 starts (0-0-1), $4,588
Breeder: Les Steinger

Ciaran Thompson’s loss was Ashley Johnson’s gain: the Irish rider was working for Bruce Davidson and acquired “Gucci” from Katie Ruppel, who herself had acquired the horse off the track — his last start was at Penn National in May of 2009. Thompson didn’t have time to work with the horse, so Johnson purchased him for herself.

Johnson has produced Tactical Maneuver from humble beginnings in Beginner Novice in 2011 all the way to the upper levels. Their Kentucky debut was in 2016, where they finished 45th: they incurred only time penalties on cross country. The pair was entered again in 2017, but a fall in a prep event led Johnson to withdraw and regroup. Time once again proved to be their nemesis in 2018 for their second trip to Kentucky: they again went without jumping penalties but their slow trip dropped them to 34th; after show jumping, they moved up to 30th.

This year, the pair has achieved top-ten finishes in the Rocking Horse Winter I H.T. in the Intermediate and Rocking Horse Winter II H.T. in the Advanced, followed by a 13th-place finish in the Advanced at Red Hills International. Most recently, Johnson and Tactical Maneuver finished 16th at the CCI4*-S at Chattahoochee Hills.

Pinney number: 10

Final score:

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Will Coleman and Tight LinesWill Coleman and Tight Lines. Photo courtesy of Eventing Nation.

TIGHT LINES (Will Coleman, USA)
Owner: The Conair Syndicate
Breeding: 2007 gelding by Turgeon (Caro [IRE]) out of the French mare Merindole (Tel Quel [FR])
Racing name: Tight Lines (FR)
Racing record: 5 starts (0-1-0), $5,871
Breeder: Henri Devin

Tight Lines is a French Thoroughbred who had a brief and fairly uninspiring steeplechasing career in France. After retiring from the track, he headed to the barn of eventers Nicolas and Thierry Touzaint, where he was produced by Paul Gatien through CCI2*-L. In 2014, the horse was sold to Coleman’s connections: Coleman has obtained several French Thoroughbreds through a friend of his wife Katie, French-based Canadian eventer Lindsay Traisnel and her husband Xavier.

Tight Lines made his Kentucky debut in 2017, finishing 34th with two stops on cross country. In 2018, Coleman and “Phish” delivered a strong performance in all three phases and finished 12th at Kentucky on their dressage score.

Coleman and Phish were selected for the U.S. team to compete at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina. The combination were the pathfinders for Team USA, eventually finishing six seconds over time with 40 jump penalties. Since then, however, the horse has had two successful outings in 2019, finishing 11th at Rocking Horse Winter II in the Intermediate and seventh at Red Hills International in the Advanced.

Pinney number: 33

Final score:

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Chris Talley and Unmarked Bills 1200x800Chris Talley and Unmarked Bills. Photo courtesy of Eventing Nation.

Owner: rider
Breeding: 2009 gelding by Posse (Silver Deputy) out of Kelli’s Ransom (Red Ransom)
Racing name: Unmarked Bills (KY)
Racing record: 24 starts (3-6-2), $67,250
Breeder: Diamond A Racing Corp.

Unmarked Bills has the longest, most successful racing career out of all of this year’s Thoroughbred starters in Kentucky: his racing career started in California and he ran through his 5-year-old season with his final start at Penn National. Incredibly, it’s just five years after making the initial transition into second-career training that “Billy” is making his five-star debut under young professional Chris Talley, who will himself be a Land Rover rookie.

Bills at RacetrackUnmarked Bills fresh off the track. Photo courtesy of Kate Samuels.
Billy came to Talley’s barn via Kate Samuels, who was selling the horse for then-owner David Nuesch. Just four months later, Billy debuted at Training level; less than a year after his last start on the track, the horse was running Preliminary. The meteoric rise continued over the course of the next years, culminating in three CCI3*-S completions in 2016, a 15th-place finish at Carolina International CC3*-L and the USEF Reserve Champion Young Horse Award. “Nobody but Chris could have taken this horse and just gone up the levels,” shares Samuels. “He’s not a conventional horse, but he’s brave and a good worker. I’m glad I could play a small part in this story.”

Talley, who partnered with Antonio and Hannah Salazar to create a multi-disciplinary equestrian program out of the Salazar’s Zaragoza Acres in Virginia, credits Billy for making this fast-track to the upper levels possible. The horse’s Thoroughbred heart has made cross-country easy, and Talley has worked hard with Hannah to develop the horse’s gaits and accuracy over fences to strengthen his dressage and show jumping.

Talley and Billy’s 2018 season included top-ten finishes at Fair Hill in the CCI4*-S and Rebecca Farm in the CCI4*-L; so far in 2019 they’ve completed the Advanced and Advanced/Intermediate at Pine Top, and most recently placed 20th at the CCI4*-S at the Fork.

Pinney number: 25

Final score:

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Adelaide 3DE 2018 1893Hazel Shannon and Willingapark Clifford. Photo courtesy of Willinga Park.

Owner: Terry Snow
Breeding: 2005 gelding by Passing Shot (Quick Score) out of Twin Pearls (Double Income)
Racing name: Sidespin (AUS)
Racing record: unraced
Breeder: Ms. S Monks

Bred in Tasmania, Australia, Willingapark Clifford — under the racing name Sidespin — did run a trial: in Australian racing, horses run trials, or “mini-races,” in which there is no purse money or permanent record. Trials are like schooling shows: they put a horse in a race-like situation, but without the pressure of winning; they’re used as a tool to determine if a horse is ready for the rigors of entering an actual race. Clifford appeared to be too slow to continue training, and his trial was his last appearance on a track.

His owner Sue Devereux liked the horse, so she sent him to her sister Wendy Ward, who operated an equestrian center in Newcastle, New South Wales with her partner Allen Jennings, with the hopes that Ward would find the horse a good home. A working student for neighbor Heath Ryan, Hazel Shannon began riding Clifford for Ward; the horse was so quiet that he was often used as a school horse. Shannon and Clifford clicked to the point that Ward and Jennings decided to keep the horse for her to ride, but no one had any inkling at the time just how far the pair would go.

Shannon and Clifford worked their way steadily up the levels, but it wasn’t until they reached the CCI4*-S level that Clifford truly began to show his colors: the pair racked up several wins in 2015 and 2016, including their first career win of the prestigious CCI5*-L at Adelaide — Australia’s equivalent to Kentucky. For his efforts at the five-star level, Clifford was named 2016 Australian Domestic Horse of the Year.

The partnership was in danger of falling apart, however, when Allen Jennings passed away, and it appeared that Ward would need to sell Clifford for financial reasons. At the eleventh hour, Terry Snow of Willinga Park purchased the horse and Shannon was able to retain the ride; Clifford formally became Willingapark Clifford in 2017. In their fourth run of Adelaide at the CCI5*-L level in 2018, Shannon and Clifford made history by winning a second time — the only combination to ever do so in the event’s history.

This will be the pair’s first run in Kentucky but they’ve got plenty of experience at home under their belts: they have a remarkably clean cross country records in terms of jumping penalties, and have finished double clear on cross country three times at the four-star level.

Pinney number: 17

Final score:

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RRP Kentucky Schedule

Inaugural Horse Industry Safety Summit  
Tuesday, April 23rd, 7:30 am – 6:30 pm at Spindletop Hall, 3414 Iron Works Pike

The event focuses solely on ways to keep riders and handlers safe and will host researchers, equestrians and equine enthusiasts in a format that combines expert panels, individual speakers and poster presentations.

Retired Racehorse Project Booth 
April 25-28th, Booth #130 on floor of Covered Arena

Shop for everything OTTB and RRP and learn more about our programs!

Cross Country Course Walk with Elisa Wallace
Thursday, April 25, 3 pm, meet at Fence 1, presented by Buckeye Nutrition

Get the inside scoop on how riders tackle this big cross country course from top rider Elisa Wallace, who is also the 2018 Thoroughbred Makeover Champion.

Thoroughbreds of the KY 3-Day 
Lynn Symansky poster autograph session at RRP Booth: Saturday, April 27th after conclusion of cross-country (specific time TBA), presented by ProElite

This year’s commemorative poster features Lynn Symansky and Donner. Get yours by completing our scavenger hunt or making a donation to RRP.

RRP Scavenger Hunt 
April 25th – 27th, Trade Fair

Stop by the RRP Booth to pick up your scavenger hunt clue card, solve the clues and collect stamps from participating vendors and turn in your card by 3PM Saturday. Complete the hunt and receive a raffle ticket for a chance to win one of three gift baskets and a free Thoroughbreds of the KY 3-Day poster.

Thoroughbred Makeover Previews 
Friday, April 26th, 4:00 pm, and Saturday, April 27th, 10:00 am, Walnut Ring

Riders at the top of their disciplines present their 2019 Thoroughbred Makeover hopefuls with commentary from eventer Dorothy Crowell.

New Vocations Open Barn and BBQ
Friday, April 26th, 5:30 – 8:30 pm, Mereworth Farm

A celebration of Thoroughbreds in second careers, enjoy tours, a meet-and-greet with the horses, demonstrations and a delicious BBQ meal. Four-star eventer Nick Larkin is the featured presenter for the evening, along with Jen Roytz as moderator.

GHB 72DPI LogoRRP Meet-Up Breakfast at USHJA Offices 
Sponsored by Guardian Horse Bedding
Sunday, April 28th, 8:30 – 10:00 am

Join RRP staff, Makeover trainers, members, and volunteers for a social hour with light breakfast (and mimosas!).

Buy tickets here

Thoroughbreds in the Trade Fair
Visit all the great Thoroughbred Charities

New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program (Booth #230)
Maker’s Mark Secretariat Center (Booth #227)
KY Equine Adoption Center (Booth #228)

Horse Country Tours

Horse Country is an organization of thoroughbred stud farms, nurseries, clinics, a feed mill, and aftercare facilities united for the purpose of fan development and tourism experiences. At one of our twenty-five touring locations, guests can learn about the operations and day to day life of the people and athletes of the equine industry.  Click here for more information!

Best of HN: Twitter Ponders ‘If Cow People Made Inspirational Memes Like Horse People’

… really, it’s a valid thought experiment.

Humankind’s relationship to the horse is fraught with emotion. After all, there’s no other large livestock species that we keep purely for personal relationships, whether for companionship or competition. The horse inspires us and drives us to be our best selves while also giving us a roller-coaster ride of emotion: there are no higher highs or lower lows than the ones you’ll discover in a lifetime with horses.

And that emotional relationship expresses itself best sometimes in meme form. Sometimes, when the days are darkest or the light is brightest, we find common ground in a good ol’ inspirational meme. A quick spin around Pinterest turned these up right away:

Et cetera.

Hey, it takes a serious amount of grit to make it in the horse world — and by “make it” we mean “continue to fall in love with these giant walking babies who are really good at breaking our hearts,” let alone the competitive aspect of our world. We get the meme thing.

But when you view it objectively, the meme thing is pretty hysterical. Enter the cow people of Twitter.

(Okay, to play devil’s advocate, there’s a lot of grit needed to make it in the dairy or beef industry too, so we get it. People just don’t tend to meme it very often.)

The responses were pretty solid.

Like, we’ve all definitely said this about our horse lives before.

And who hasn’t said this to themselves, especially when they have any kind of horse who is slightly unique for your chosen discipline? (Which is to say, you know, all of them.)

Cow people of Twitter, we salute you. Keep those inspirational memes coming.

6 Creative Ways to Incorporate Hill Work This Spring

Hills are a component of many cross country courses, but fitness work on hills can benefit your work on the flat as well. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Spring is finally here (yes, even up here in the snowbelt — my daffodils are coming up and my horses are finally shedding!). While it’s tempting to throw that saddle on and hit the trails or the show ring, the reality is that for a lot of us, our horses are probably out of shape.

Yes, we have ridden all winter long, but chances are we were relegated to the indoor arena, or if we were lucky, maybe a nice outdoor. I myself was able to hack out in a big snow-covered pasture of cover crop a few days a week. But no matter how many miles we might put in through circles and figures in a flat, winter-safe space, our horses are probably still lacking in true condition: the kind of muscular strength and endurance that comes with long, slow miles out of the arena, traversing the hills.

In this recent run of good weather, I’ve launched my hill work plan to better my horse’s fitness. Here are six ways you can work hills into your springtime conditioning regimen for a fitter equine athlete!

1. Put on your hiking shoes.

Okay, we probably don’t want to admit that we ourselves as riders might be a little out of shape after winter too — so why not accomplish two goals at once? Put on your hiking shoes, put a halter and lead on your horse, and head out to the hills to put conditioning miles on both of you. Start small with short hills and a gradual include before you try scaling mountains.

2. Work hills on the lunge line.

This one is a little easier on you as a handler: lunge your horse in a gentle circle at the walk around you, letting him traverse up and down the hill on a roughly 20′ line. You can move up, down and across the hill as you go, letting your horse navigate varying degrees of slope and flat. As above, start on a gradual slope and work your way up to a steeper incline. Especially for horses lacking muscle tone or green horses who are not used to traveling over hills, this is a great way to let your horse find his own footing and balance without also carrying a rider.

3. Hill work under saddle.

Once your horse is strong enough to carry a rider up and down hills, you can saddle up and head out! If you sensed a “walk before you run” pattern developing, you’re absolutely right: walk hills, starting with a gradual slope and short distance, before tackling bigger hills or moving to the trot or canter.

Ascending hills under saddle builds strength in the horse’s front and hind legs as well as builds muscling over the top line — the neck and back muscles of the horse. Ideally, a horse should ascend a hill by lowering his head and reaching under himself with his hind legs; if you’ve done your homework with a green horse working hills from the ground he should develop this form naturally. If your horse wants to rush up the hill by pulling himself along on his forehand, correct him and ask him to walk.

Backing up and down hills is also a great strengthening exercise.

4. Descend via switchback.

One of the particular reasons I employ hill work is to strengthen my horse’s identified weak stifles — ascending hills can help strengthen that joint, but descending hills is counterproductive and places too much strain on that area. Generally speaking, while a horse should be able to safely navigate a downhill slope, especially as a trail mount, descending a hill on a switchback (a zig-zag pattern that allows the horse to descend gradually) is more comfortable and reduces the load on joints and soft tissue.

If you have the option to create a switchback down a hill, allow the horse to descend at an angle, zig-zagging gently back and forth to come down the hill.

As a visual, here’s a look at one of my recent hill rides via the Huufe app’s ride tracking feature: you can see my direct route up the hill, and my much longer, gradual descent as I switched back down the field.

5. Traverse the sides of hills.

Equally important to traveling up and down slopes, navigating across a slope helps build balance and nimble footwork on horses. Trekking the shoulder of a hill in both directions (putting the right side of the horse on the uphill side, then the left) will improve a horse’s coordination, and better prepare them to tackle uneven footing.

6. Don’t have access to hills?

While hill work in its pure form has many benefits — including getting the horse out of the arena for a mind-refreshing hack and putting him on different footing — you can still gain some of those rewards even if you live in an area that’s flat as a pancake or you don’t have easy or immediate access to any good hills that you can work safely. Working over obstacles such as poles (start flat on the ground, then raise them on one or both sides) can help the horse to use his body in similar ways as he would if he were climbing a hill, though the rider must be sure that they are encouraging correct form and engaging the horse from behind.

Go Eventing.

Another great resource: Fitness Work on Hills: An Excerpt from ‘Training Horses the Ingrid Klimke Way’

Best of HN: What’s the Deal With Bisphosphonates?

What are bisphosphonates, and why are they suddenly in the headlines? This class of drugs is intended to treat horses with symptoms of navicular syndrome — but off-label use may be doing more harm than good. The racing industry is beginning to fight back against such off-label use. Horse Nation reports. 

Photo by Pixabay/CC.

No single cause has been determined for the rash of fatal breakdowns earlier this year at Santa Anita, in which 22 horses suffered injuries too severe for rehabilitation and were subsequently euthanized. Plenty of speculative theories abound from the track surface to the long-term effects of certain pharmaceuticals; the Stronach Group, which owns Santa Anita, issued a ban on the drug Lasix as well as jockeys’ whips, which has been criticized by some as a knee-jerk reaction to pressure from animal rights groups.

However, a class of drugs intended to treat horses with symptoms of navicular syndrome is making its way into the headlines in the wake of Santa Anita’s breakdowns: bisphosphonates, sold under the brand names Tilden and Osphos, are reportedly being used to help correct certain orthopedic problems in young sales horses. Bisphosphonates also provide some long-term analgesia. But there isn’t enough research yet to know exactly how bisphosphonates affect bone remodeling in race horses in strenuous exericse, and long-term effects are still unknown. There is no hard data for how many horses in the racing industry are treated with bisphosphonates, so there is no way to know for certain if the drug is at least partially responsible for the rash of fatal breakdowns.

How Bisphosphonates Work

Both Tildren and Osphos are approved by the FDA for use in horses four years old and older. Bisphosphonates work by inhibiting osteoclasts, which are cells that clear away woven bone — that’s a temporary bonelike substance that grows to fill in a fracture — so that osteoblasts can lay down better-organized and stronger bone. Inhibiting the osteoclasts and the clearing away of woven bone works to slow conditions such as osteoporosis in humans and navicular syndrome in horses. The analgesic effect is also helpful for horses suffering from pain associated with navicular syndrome.

The drug binds to bone material, and it’s currently unknown how long bisphosphonates remain active in a horse’s system. Current testing abilities can only show whether the drug was administered within the past 28 days.

Side Effects & Off-Label Use

Off-label use of a drug is not actually illegal; the warnings against off-label use that come in drug literature are intended to protect the manufacturer. That means that there is very little data to support any of the claims of benefits from the use of bisphosphonates for any reason other than to treat horses older than four with symptoms of navicular disease — all that exists now is anecdotal evidence. That in and of itself should be taken with a grain of salt, because of the risk of liability: some veterinarians are reporting no adverse affects, while others claim to have seen a massive uptick in catastrophic injuries since the administration of bisphosphonates. Many deny administrating them altogether, but it’s generally believed that their off-label use is widespread, especially in young horses.

Equine orthopedic surgeon Dr. Larry Bramlage of Rood & Riddle warned in 2018 that the use of bisphosphonates could delay healing — he observed many injuries that should have been healed months later just “patched up” with woven bone. Dr. Bramlage reported more recently, however, that he was seeing fewer surgical patients experiencing slow healing since his 2018 presentation.

Reportedly, bisphosphonates can be used to hide evidence of sesamoiditis in weanlings and yearlings in radiographs — which nearly all young horses undergo at sales so that potential buyers can assess any potential problems on the horizon. Sesamoiditis affects not only the sesamoid bones but the attached ligaments. As with other off-label use, there’s no way of knowing how many young horses might be treated with bisphosphonates in order to affect how the lower leg may appear on radiograph, or if the drug is intended to help correct other orthopedic problems.

The lack of hard data makes any discussion of bisphosphonates truly frustrating, but that fact on its own should give one pause — if we don’t know enough about how bisphosphonates work, especially in young horses, then why do we continue to use them in horses who will be in intense training and exertion while racing?

Racing Industry Response

While there is no research-banked link at this time to bisphosphonate use and increased breakdowns, anecdotal evidence certainly raises red flags — enough that the racing industry is responding.

The three largest sales companies in North America — Keeneland Association, Fasig-Tipton and Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company — announced jointly on March 25 that bisphosphonates were banned for off-label use in horses, enabling buyers to request testing of horses under the age of four. If a sale horse tests positive, a buyer has the right to rescind the sale. These sales conditions go into effect on July 1, 2019.

Testing can currently determine if a horse was administered bisphosphonates within the past 28 days, but horses could be receiving the drug months before the sale; research is underway to develop a more long-term test.

The entire Mid-Atlantic region, including regulators, horsemen’s organizations, breeders’ organizations, racetrack operators and veterinarians, came together at the annual Mid-Atlantic Regulatory and Stakeholders on March 21, 2019 and announced immediate prohibition on the use of bisphosphonates on horses under the age of four, until more definitive research on the effects of the drug use on young horses was available. The use of bisphosphonates on horses older than four has been limited only to horses who have been diagnosed with navicular syndrome by a veterinarian.

These bans are supported by Dechra, the pharmaceutical company that produces Osphos. The company has directed more resources recently towards client education to encourage veterinarians to follow the drug’s intended use and directions.

[Bisphosphonates and Navicular Disease in Horses]

[What We Know (And Don’t Know) About Bisphosphonates]

[Bisphosphonates: What We Know About Off-Label Use, And What One Drug Company Is Doing About It]

[Bramlage: ‘Price to Pay’ For Bisphosphonate Use Is Delayed Healing]

[Mid-Atlantic Region Bans Bisphosphonates For Horses Under Four; HBPA Calls For National Ban]

[Sale Companies Ban Off-Label Use of Bisphosphonates]

[Better Bisphosphonate Test and Tighter Controls Coming]

Best of HN: Photo Challenge — The State of the Blanket

Let’s pour a little out for the fallen blankets of 2019.

Spring is coming, and not soon enough for these reader-submitted blankets!

“I feel like my blanket should be in a Harry Potter story!” Photo by Nancy Adams DVM.

“Brand new white mesh rug. After 20 minutes.” Photo by Vivenne Evangelista.

“Is there even a horse or blanket in this photo? Oh wait yes, that’s my mare.” Photo by Lauren Pfarr.

“Razz is very proud of his ‘cold shoulder’ blanket he made.” Photo by MP Panos.

“Kate Kapura.” Photo by Rebekah Nydam.

“This is Daddy’s Diva … with what’s left of her blanket I put on just an hour prior.” Photo by Renee Scucci.

This is called the “miraculously still intact” state of the blanket. Photo by Hope Carlin.

“Vinnie, during the ever-popular 5th false spring, aka the mud season in Pennsylvania.” Photo by Becky J. Cocklin.

Roxy saying “What? It’s my day off.” Photo by Kathleen McDonald.

“Gizmo in his thug-rug. Keeps him dry though.” Photo by Christina Brock.

“The horse halter top look.” Photo by Kimberly Lanning.

Keep an eye out for next week’s Horse Nation 24-hour photo challenge! We announce challenge subjects on Monday around the middle of the day on both Instagram and Facebook.

Go riding!

Give Back to Go Scholarship Awarded to Thoroughbred Makeover Trainers

Emily Daignault-Salvaggio and Gin Joint, winners of the Field Hunter division at the 2015 Thoroughbred Makeover. Photo by Heather Benson.

It’s not just a scholarship that Emily Daignault-Salvaggio launched, with the intention of refunding one 2019 Thoroughbred Makeover trainer’s entry fee through her family’s Daignault Family Foundation. The Give Back to Go Scholarship may just have launched a movement — of paying it forward, looking outside of one’s own experience and raising awareness of off-track Thoroughbreds in new and creative ways.

Always a lifelong believer in the concept of “paying it forward,” Emily had enjoyed great success at the 2015 Thoroughbred Makeover, presented by Thoroughbred Charities of America. Believing wholeheartedly in the mission of the Retired Racehorse Project, she wanted to provide a scholarship opportunity that would refund an applying trainer’s entry fee — with a twist. In applying for the Give Back to Go Scholarship, each trainer had to make a donation, however large or small, to a horse-related charity of their choice.

Twenty-four applicants donated over $1,000 to a total of 19 different 501(c)3 charities across the United States and Canada, surpassing Emily’s hopes for the inaugural year of the scholarship.

“The applicants really did embrace the concept of giving back to their communities,” she said. “Through this scholarship I’ve been privileged to be introduced to some truly amazing horsemen who are already walking the walk and giving back.”

In their applications, trainers had to describe — either in writing or in video — what it would mean to them to receive the scholarship. A first round of judges, consisting of Tik Maynard, Isabela de Sousa, Kasey Evans, Sarah Hepler, Lindsey Partridge and Nicole Valeri, had their work cut out for them, narrowing the pool of 24 applicants to a final round of three. A final round of celebrity judges, including retired champion jockey Ramon Dominguez, award-winning Thoroughbred photographer Barbara D. Livingston and Olympic eventer Boyd Martin, placed the top three.

The winner of the 2019 Give Back to Go Scholarship is Ali Dacher, founder of CANTER’s California division. “Ali is a testament to anyone who believes that with some hard work, determination and belief in yourself that anything can be accomplished,” Emily said. “She truly does embody the spirit of giving back to go.”

Judge Barbara D. Livingston said, “Ali has obviously put so much of her heart, and no doubt resources, into the care and placement of OTTBs for more than a decade now. Imagine the number of Thoroughbreds who now have good and productive lives, partly or largely due to Ali’s efforts.”

“She also recognizes that, regardless of receiving recognition for her efforts, her life will be spent in this pursuit,” Barbara added. “Paying it forward seems only right, in granting her this scholarship.”

With such a pool of deserving applicants who embraced the “give back to go” spirit, however, Emily couldn’t stop at awarding just one scholarship. “This idea, this result, these people and their stories touched me quite a lot. Because of this I have made the decision to give my own entry fee to our runner-up Megan Waelti.”

Megan described how she would use her scholarship to attend more eventing competitions in her equestrian community and displayed a strong commitment to raising awareness of off-track Thoroughbreds as sport horses. Ramon Dominguez was impressed by Megan’s story: “I, as well as anyone who loves horses and riding, can relate to the way she beautifully describes her experiences with her horse.”

Lauren Nethery stepped forward to donate an additional $300 to the Retired Racehorse Project as part of the Give Back to Go Scholarship, ensuring that all three trainers in the final round would have their entry fees refunded. This allowed third-place applicant Kallie Zeinstra to receive her entry fee back.

Emily said, “Kallie’s story — she runs an equine non-profit and uses horses to provide therapy for seniors and youth — is inspiring enough but adding to it her mother who is fighting breast cancer and who attended the 2018 Makeover one week after being diagnosed, well that’s an awful lot of stuff that a little bit of good karma could help give back to!”

Ali Dacher said, “I love that this experience of applying for the scholarship encourages others to pay it forward, keeping the roots of the Retired Racehorse Project in the forefront of our minds. I found the experience to be both inspirational and motivating!”

Meagan Waelti said, “I’m really proud to be a part of all of this. I’m grateful for the reminder to keep paying it forward when you can!”

Kallie Zeinstra said, “I think it is easy at times for us equestrians to lose perspective on what or why we are doing something when faced with unexpected challenges. Writing my essay to apply for this scholarship encouraged me take a step back and look at the larger picture.”

Emily added, “We cannot thank the RRP staff and board enough for listening to and being receptive to this idea. Our hope is that the path we have cut this year will lead others to want to give back with their own efforts, funds or items in their sphere of the horse world in the future. I look forward to being at the Makeover and cheering on all who applied to this scholarship. I hope that in 2020 we can do this again and look forward to seeing what those applicants look like and what they have done to give back in their own lives.”

For more information about the Give Back to Go Scholarship, please visit the website.

Retired Racehorse Project’s ‘Sire Madness’ is Back for 2019

Combining the best parts of March Madness — so, you know, the bracket — with the 16 most popular Thoroughbred sires of sport horses, the Retired Racehorse Project has rolled out “Sire Madness” for another year. Keep an eye on the Retired Racehorse Project Facebook page to cast your vote in daily match-ups! 

2019 bracket as of March 5. Courtesy of Retired Racehorse Project.

As the off-track Thoroughbred (OTTB) enjoys another surge of popularity — it was once THE choice of America’s horsemen, but was replaced by the warmblood or Quarter horse, depending on discipline — more equestrians want to know: which bloodlines make the best sport horses?

One could argue that breeding is less important than individual horses’ talent, movement, jump or mind. One could also argue that all of those things — talent, movement, jump, or mind — are created by a horse’s breeding. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a place to access all of this collective information we know about Thoroughbred bloodlines … in a sport horse context?

Seeking to fill that need, the Retired Racehorse Project created the Thoroughbred Sport Tracker (formerly known as Bloodline Brag). It’s the internet’s only user-driven database that allows participants to create profiles for their OTTBs and provide information about their movement, soundness, jump and show careers along with their sire, dam and damsire information, providing, for the first time, a detailed look at how certain lines might perform in individual disciplines.

As a user-driven database, it’s certainly not a perfect system — but it’s the only one of its kind currently available for anyone to access, and there’s a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips ready to be accessed. To help recognize the incredible resource of Thoroughbred Sport Tracker, the Retired Racehorse Project launched “Sire Madness” in 2018, ranking the top 16 most popular sires from the database in a bracket and posting daily match-ups on social media for popular vote. Giant’s Causeway was voted the 2018 Sire Madness winner, represented by numerous talented offspring in the hunter, jumper and eventing arenas and praised for his offspring’s excellent movement.

Courtesy of Retired Racehorse Project.

With hundreds of new horses added to the database over the past year, the Retired Racehorse Project has launched a new bracket for 2019. Some of the old familiar names are back again — Two Punch, Malibu Moon, Giant’s Causeway, Smarty Jones — but many rising stars are spoiling for an upset — Bellamy Road, Broken Vow, Smoke Glacken, Holy Bull.

There’s a new poll every other day for followers to vote for their favorite sire of sport horses, and already this month, there was an upset: the #16 seed Bellamy Road narrowly defeated the #1 seed Two Punch on the very first day of voting. Bellamy Road offspring have been making their mark in a variety of disciplines, from eventing to jumpers to barrel racing to trail. A new match-up will be published tomorrow as Sire Madness continues to work through preliminary rounds.

While this year’s bracket is already set up, there’s no reason that your OTTB can’t also be part of Thoroughbred Sport Tracker. Check out the database here, and with a free website account, you can add your horse’s profile and help contribute to the internet’s only OTTB bloodline database.

Go riding!