More Than 300 Thoroughbreds Ready to Compete in 2016 Makeover

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

One of the most highly anticipated competitions of the year is quickly approaching in the Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium Presented by Thoroughbred Charities of America. More than 300 Thoroughbreds that recently retired from 62 different tracks in North America will show off their skills in 10 different disciplines on Oct. 27-30 at the Kentucky Horse Park.

A prize purse of $100,000 is up for grabs for the trainers, who have spent the past nine months retraining their Thoroughbreds in eventing, dressage, show jumping, barrel racing, competitive trail, field hunter, freestyle, polo, show hunter and working ranch. The top three in each sport will compete in the Saturday afternoon finale, when America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred will be crowned.

“For anyone interested in training horses, this is as good as it gets,” Steuart Pittman, event organizer and RRP president, said. “The horses all started knowing only what they learned in the sport of racing, and each trainer applies his or her own methods to the process. You can’t help but learn something new.”

Wondering who is competing in the Thoroughbred Makeover? The Retired Racehorse Project compiled this handy database with the full list of contestants, and it’s sortable by horse, trainer, state and discipline. More than 60 horses are competing in eventing with top riders like Elisa Wallace, Tik Maynard, Cathy Wieschhoff, Dorothy Crowell and Kendal Lehari.

Eighteen judges will travel to Lexington to judge the different disciplines, with four-star rider Allie Knowles, course designer and clinician Richard Lamb, and USEF dressage judges Ann Forer and Mary Grace slated to judge the eventing portion of the competition.

“I believe I speak for all of the judges when I say that we are traveling to Kentucky to promote the Thoroughbred horse in our respective sports,” Bernie Traurig, who will judge the show jumping with David Hopper, said. “We look forward to seeing what these trainers have accomplished and rewarding the best.”

The Thoroughbred Makeover also places a heavy emphasis on education, with more than 20 learning opportunities planned throughout the weekend. Five “Bridges to Second Careers Roundtables,” five seminars and 13 training demonstrations are designed to help OTTB enthusiasts improve the quality of training and care for horses coming off the track. Rosie Napravnik, Bernie Traurig, Chris McCarron, Elisa Wallace and Lance Graves will all lead educational sessions. 

If you’re shopping for a new OTTB, the Makeover Horse Sale is an excellent opportunity to see a slew of available horses at one time, with more than 100 horses in the competition available for purchase. Click here to review the online catalog with prices, photos and videos.

During the Makeover, interested buyers can watch the horses compete and even schedule a trial ride with the seller’s consent. (Each sale horse will undergo a short veterinary exam on arrival, but pre-purchase exams are the responsibility of the buyer. Click here for full details on the sale.)

If you’re not shopping for an OTTB, you can still shop in the Makeover’s sponsor fair in the TCA Covered Arena, which will host more than 80 vendors selling everything from art and apparel to jewelry and tack. View the complete list of vendors and the sponsor fair map here.

And, of course, it wouldn’t be the Thoroughbred Makeover without a blowout party to celebrate the weekend. Held Saturday night in the Big Barn at the Kentucky Horse Park, the party will feature music from central Kentucky favorite Shades of Grass, as well as celebrity Equicizer races, a silent auction, and delicious food and drinks.

Weekend passes for the Makeover are $25, with day passes priced at $10. All Retired Racehorse Project members are eligible to receive one free weekend pass with this coupon code. Tickets for the Saturday night party are $40. Click here to purchase tickets.

For even more details and a full schedule of events, go to The event will be live streamed on RRP’s website, so you can still watch even if you can’t travel to Lexington to experience the Thoroughbred Makeover in person. Go OTTBs! Go Eventing.

Thoroughbred Makeover Links: WebsiteScheduleTicketsContestant ListSales List, Live StreamTraining Demos, Seminars, Roundtables