Racehorse Makeover: Equestrians flock to retrain OTTBs

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Lindsey Partridge with America's Most Wanted Thoroughbred, Soar (the gray) and Lionofwallstreet.
Lindsey Partridge with America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred of 2015, Soar (the gray) and Lionofwallstreet. Partridge is hoping for a repeat performance in 2016. © Megan Stapley Photography

Up to 500 ex-racehorses will converge on the Kentucky Horse Park later this year to vie for $100,000 in prize money and the title of America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred.

Some 488 professional and amateur trainers from the US, Canada, and Britain, aged from 10 to 71 and from 10 disciplines have applied, with a pool of 741 horses, to take part in the 2016 Thoroughbred Makeover by the Retired Racehorse Project.

Each trainer must acquire a Thoroughbred who raced or had a published work after October 1, 2014 and had no second career training before this year.

“We were thrilled by the number of entries, but ecstatic about the quality,” said RRP President Steuart Pittman. “We complain that Americans buy horses in Europe because we lack good trainers here.

“Reading the stories of these 488 applicants convinced me otherwise. These are very experienced trainers, some of whom have trained horses to the pinnacles of their respective sports. Watching their progress through the year and then seeing them at the Kentucky Horse Park in the fall will make better horsemen of all of us.”

Dan Rosenberg, president of Thoroughbred Charities of America, said the trainers taking part in the makeover “are my new heroes”.

“Each will invest hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars into showcasing on a national stage just how special these horses can be. This event is the formula we need to effectively transition large numbers of racehorses to new careers while promoting them as a breed to the huge marketplace of American horse owners,” he said.

Last year’s title was taken out by Lindsey Partridge and Soar. In addition winning the $10,000 prize, the pair also took home first in Competitive Trail presented by The American Competitive Trail Horse Association and third in Freestyle presented by Keeneland at the 2015 Thoroughbred Charities of America Makeover. Lionofwallstreet also put in a good performance for Partridge, coming in second to his stablemate for Competitive Trail.

The Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium takes place from October 27 to 30 at the Kentucky Horse Park. It includes the Thoroughbred Makeover competition as well as educational seminars and demonstrations, a trade fair, and the Makeover Horse Sale, an opportunity for buyers to evaluate horses from the Makeover that are available for sale.

The list of accepted entries will be announced at RetiredRacehorseProject.org on February 15.

Statistics so far on the 2016 Thoroughbred Makeover:

  1. 488 trainers applied. 253 of those hope to bring two horses, for a total applicant pool of 741 horses.
  2. They come from 45 states, four Canadian provinces, and England.
  3. Their primary disciplines of expertise are eventing (132), show hunters (98), show jumpers (64), dressage (61), barrel racing (34), working ranch (22), freestyle (21), field hunter (20), competitive trails (18), and polo (17).
  4. There are 271 professionals, 162 amateurs, and 55 juniors, and they range in age from 10 years old to 71 years young.
  5. 350 have already acquired an eligible Thoroughbred to train for the event. 138 have not.
  6. The ten states or provinces with the largest numbers of entries are Pennsylvania (44), Kentucky (37), Maryland (30), Ohio (28), Virginia (27), Michigan (24), New York (22), Ontario (20), California (19), and Florida (18).

Thoroughbred Makeover Rules and Information

The distribution of applications for the 2016 Thoroughbred Makeover, as of January 24.
The distribution of applications for the 2016 Thoroughbred Makeover, as of January 24.
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