One month from now the Breeders’ Cup Festival begins in Lexington, Kentucky. The week of festivities begins with the TCA Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium at the Kentucky Horse Park where $100,000 in prize money will be distributed to owners of two hundred Thoroughbreds that have recently been trained in in ten different riding sports. The event is sponsored by Thoroughbred Charities of America and organized by Retired Racehorse Project (RRP).
Icabad Crane, a nine-year-old gelding who ran third in the 2008 Preakness Stakes, returned to Pimlico Race Course on Sunday, October 5 to win the America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred contest sponsored by EQUUS Foundation, taking home the winner’s share of the $10,000 purse.
The contest, organized as part of the Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover, paired ten top trainers with ten Thoroughbred ex-racehorses and showed their progress throughout the summer on the RRP’s website. Each team represented an equestrian discipline: Polo, Show Hunter, Eventing, Ranch Work, Steeplechase, Fox Hunter, Show Jumper, Barrel Racing, Dressage and Pony Club.
Imagine: A Thoroughbred trainer has five horses competing in an important event at Pimlico on the same Saturday. He needs to find four more excellent jockeys to ensure the horses get the best ride possible in the competition. Fairly normal situation, right? Except these Thoroughbreds chase cows for a living, not the finish wire.
Sometimes it really is a matter of the more, the merrier. And when the Retired Racehorse Training Project (RRTP) asked ranch horse trainer Dale Simanton to bring his full crew ranch and cattle-trained off-track Thoroughbreds to Baltimore for the RRTP Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium on October 5 and 6, nobody really thought about who was going to ride them.
“That was when we conceived this idea of inviting a group of jockeys to take the mounts on these horses,” said RRTP President, Steuart Pittman. “We can’t imagine anything more fun than having some of America’s most well-known riders taking the reins on this group of ‘cow horses’ for this event.”
When the Retired Racehorse Training Project announced that 26 Thoroughbred ex-racehorses would appear at Pimlico Racecourse in Baltimore, Maryland to demonstrate their talent for second careers, nobody envisioned a western invasion of Maryland hunt country.