By Nicole Russo
Several familiar faces will be at this week’s $100,000 Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium (Oct. 27-30), presented by Thoroughbred Charities of America.
The ever-growing Thoroughbred Makeover symposium - to run Oct. 27-30 at the Kentucky Horse Park - showcases the ability of Thoroughbred ex-racehorses to be re-trained for a variety of equestrian sports. Information is provided about breed, and for matching select horses for sale with interested buyers.
The “America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred” competition is an event highlight that features 302 Thoroughbreds, each of whom has worked with a professional or amateur trainer – ranging in age from 14-year-old juniors to 70-year-old adults – for less than a year. Horses compete in one of 10 disciplines: barrel racing, competitive trail, dressage, eventing, field hunters, freestyle, polo, show hunters, show jumpers, and working ranch.
Each division’s top three compete on the final day in a best-in-show competition for the America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred crown.
“For anyone interested in training horses, this is as good as it gets,” retired Racehorse Project President Steuart Pittman 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.”
The nascent America’s Most Wanted contest made headlines in the racing industry two years ago when multiple stakes winner Icabad Crane, now in Olympic event rider Phillip Dutton’s barn, won the event at Pimlico, where he had finished third in the 2008 Preakness Stakes.
Last year, the symposium moved to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington to coincide with the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland, and Lindsey Partridge won the title with her competitive trail mare Soar. Partridge, based in Ontario, has brought off-the-track Thoroughbreds Pentland and Trivia Time to compete this year.
Nineteen horses who won or placed in stakes during their racing careers will compete in their new sports at this year’s contest. That includes multiple graded stakes winners Havelock and Title Contender, in dressage and eventing, respectively.
Havelock, a homebred for Tommy and Bonnie Hamilton’s Silverton Hill, is still owned by that outfit while being re-trained by equestrian Lisa Thomas, of Kentucky.
The gelding won the Grade 2 Play the King Stakes at Woodbine and the Grade 3 Woodford Stakes at Keeneland en route to his first Breeders’ Cup appearance in the 2011 Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs, where he was 14th. The following season, he won the Grade 2 Hanshin Cup at Arlington and the Grade 3 Shakertown at Keeneland. That earned him invitations to spend the summer competing abroad in major Group 1 events, but he finished unplaced in both the Diamond Jubilee at the renowned Royal Ascot meeting and in the July Cup at Newmarket.
He rebounded by repeating in that fall’s Woodford at Keeneland, then finished 10th in the 2012 Turf Sprint at Santa Anita.
Havelock won 10 of 35 career starts, earning $655,752.
Following an impressive maiden win, Title Contender ran in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, in which he was eighth. He won the following year’s Ohio Derby and British Columbia Derby, both Grade 3 events, then won three other stakes at Hastings. Title Contender won 7 of 27 starts, earning $343,153.
Title Contender, a son of Pulpit, is now owned by prominent eventer Cathy Wieschhoff, who runs her CW Event Team out of Carriage Station Farm in Kentucky. Wieschhoff has competed at the Rolex Kentucky CCI at the Kentucky Horse Park, and in the Burghley CCI in England – both four-star events, the highest level of the sport. Wieschhoff will also ride the stakes-placed mare Speed Rail, owned by Jessica Bolllinger, in the eventing division.
WinStar Farm stallion Super Saver’s first stakes winner was Hashtag Bourbon, who was also graded stakes-placed as a juvenile. Hashtag Bourbon, retired through his owner Bourbon Lane Stable’s aftercare arm, will compete in the show jumper division of the America’s Most Wanted contest under WinStar veterinarian Natanya Nieman.
The symposium also features a number of seminars and training demonstrations on topics such as selling and placing Thoroughbred sport horse prospects, on-track screening, health management of ex-racehorses, soundness and pre-purchase exams, and running aftercare organizations. Retired jockey Rosie Napravnik, an avid eventer who competed aboard off-the-track Thoroughbreds, will participate in a panel on “What Racehorses Know,” helping potential adopters to understand how horses are managed on the track and what adjustments they must make moving to a new home.
Napravnik, along with retired Hall of Fame rider Chris McCarron, will also participate in a “Riding a Racehorse” panel.
Two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan will also appear at the event in a training demonstration with trainer Charlie LoPresti.