Thoroughbred Makeover issues call for retired racehorses

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: Feb. 7, 2017

More than 300 trainers accepted to compete for a share of $100,000 in prize money for this year’s Thoroughbred Makeover Oct. 5-8 at the Kentucky Horse Park are in need of horses, and the Retired Racehorse Project is working to find them.

The RRP announced Feb. 7 that 578 trainers were accepted this year, and 65 have applied and were approved to enter two horses each. About 230 trainers have already registered horses for the event.

The Thoroughbred Makeover, which is being called the greatest multi-discipline gathering of horse trainers ever, is a racehorse retraining competition. Trainers are approved based on their skills in a primary discipline but may compete at the Makeover in one or two of 10 disciplines: eventing, show hunter, show jumper, dressage, barrel racing, competitive trails, field hunters, polo, working ranch, and freestyle depending on aptitude shown during the training process.

Each trainer must acquire a Thoroughbred that meets the competition’s guidelines. Eligible horses may not have started second-career training before the Dec. 1 opening date, and must have raced or had a published workout after July 1, 2015.

The RRP said there is plenty of time to get horses registered for the program.

“Many of the horses that compete in the Makeover each year don’t begin their training or even retire from racing until well into the year, RRP President Steuart Pittman said. “I encourage racehorse owners with any horses they are considering retiring this year to list them on our website. It’s kind of cool to think about—the winner of this year’s Thoroughbred Makeover may not yet have run his or her last race.”

Racing owners may list their horses on the RRP website as Makeover-eligible. The website also allows horse owners to list any Thoroughbred—regardless of its Thoroughbred Makeover eligibility—for sale or lease free of charge.

“We were overwhelmed, not only by the number of applications, but also by the quality,” Pittman said. “We have very competent horse trainers in every discipline, including some who have competed at the Olympic level. Our goal has always been to increase the demand, and ultimately the value, of retired racehorses for the benefit of both racehorse owners and retired racehorse owners. I think we’re starting to see that happen.”

The field of trainers in this year’s Thoroughbred Makeover is comprised of 49% professionals, 39% amateurs, and 12% juniors. They are from 44 states, two Canadian provinces, and England, with the highest representation from Pennsylvania (63), Kentucky (61), Virginia (45), Maryland (38), Ohio (31), Michigan (29), Florida (28), New York (26), Georgia (26), and Ontario (25). Twenty-one will travel from West Coast states—California (16), Oregon (three), and Washington (two)—and two will fly from England.

Participants include Hollywood’s leading horse trainer Rex Peterson, Show Hunter Hall of Fame’s Lois Serio, Canadian Olympians Ian Roberts and Kelly Plitz, America’s top female jockey Rosie Napravnik, Rolex CCI**** winner Nick Larkin, and World Equestrian Games Silver Medalist Dorothy Crowell. The junior riders are an outstanding group that includes members of United States Pony Clubs, members of prominent horseracing families, and up-and-coming stars in their respective sports.

Last year’s Thoroughbred Makeover winner at the Kentucky Horse Park was Fairway King, a Florida-bred son of Leroidesanimaux who was retrained in the disciplines of dressage and eventing by Lauren Turner of River Birch Farm in Jasper, Ga. Out of the Robyn Dancer mare Par Golfer, Fairway King was bred by Frank Bertolino and sold as a yearling at the 2013 Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. August sale and later as a 2-year-old at the OBS June Two-Year-Olds and Horses of Racing Age sale the following year.

The gelding raced nine times as a 3-year-old for owner Leo Nechamkin II. He won one race and earned $20,327 before his retirement in the summer of 2015.

More information on the RRP and the Thoroughbred Makeover is available here.

(Photo of trainer/rider Clovis Crane aboard Empire Road at last year’s Thoroughbred Makeover by Sarah K. Andrew)