OTTB Showcase: SEATTLE BLOSSOM (a.k.a. Trevi)
Name: SEATTLE BLOSSOM (a.k.a. Trevi)
Height: 17 h.
Sire: Seattle Dancer
Dam: Floral Blossom
Sale History: None
Race Record: 15-3-3-4; 3rd in the Sycamore S. at Keeneland
Race Earnings: $106,145
Who says you can’t teach an old horse new tricks? Nineteen-year-old Trevi is proof that age is truly just a number.
Trevi raced as Seattle Blossom in the 1990s, bringing home enough checks to make it into the hundred-grand club. He even placed third as a four-year-old in the Sycamore Stakes at Keeneland Race Course for his breeder and then-owner, Arthur Appleton.
As if that wasn’t enough, several of his siblings were high dollar earners as well, the most notable of which was Exclusive Partner, a multiple graded stakes winner of nearly $1 million in the 1980s.
“Trevi was given to me by a vet who was moving out of state and looking to place him in a good home, but I wasn’t looking to take on a training project at the time,” said Chelsie Novak, Trevi’s current owner.
Born and raised near Wellington, Florida, Chelsie developed her love of horses at an early age. She honed her skills in various equestrian disciplines but specialized in jumping. Since 2007, she has worked as a bookkeeper for the prestigious Mill Ridge Farm in Lexington, Kentucky.
Chelsie was told that while Trevi had been living the life of a pasture potato for months, he had been an upper-level eventing horse in his career after the track and was extremely well-trained. Trevi’s owner offered to allow Chelsie to take him home to try him out and, if she didn’t like him, she could bring him back.
“I rode him the night I brought him home and was floored,” said Chelsie. “He was clearly out of shape, but his knowledge and movement were solid. After that first ride, there was no way he was going back.”
A week after bringing Trevi home, she let a friend take him to a jumper show just for fun to see what he could do, and the plain bay gelding who had sat in a pasture for the better part of a year brought home four first-place ribbons, two second-place ribbons, and a third.
“The jumps kept getting higher and the competition got more and more intimidating, but he wasn’t fazed in the least,” said Chelsie.
Having simply been given the horse, Chelsie knew nothing about him and was keen on learning his story, so she deciphered his lip tattoo and began researching his history.
“I didn’t even know his age or his real name,” said Chelsie. “Once I was able to make out his tattoo, I found his records and discovered he was eighteen at the time! I couldn’t believe it – this incredible athlete was considered a senior!”
That was the spring of 2011. Since then, Trevi and Chelsie have stayed active, competing in the local jumper divisions in Lexington.
“He knows his job, is completely push-button-auto, and loves to work,” said Chelsie. “That being said, he goes from the fast and powerful show jumper to toting toddlers around on his back. I’ve given adult beginner lessons on him because he’s the perfect schoolmaster. His forgiveness knows no bounds, and he gives the most timid rider confidence.”
The pair also competed in the Sportswomen’s Challenge at the High Hope Steeplechase this past weekend at the Kentucky Horse Park, an amateur race aimed at raising money and awareness for the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
“I was concerned that his age may prevent him from enduring the training involved, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. He’s extremely fit and sound,” said Chelsie. “I was nervous the day of the race, but once I was on his back I felt a complete sense of calm. He went around that track with the speed and stamina of a four-year-old, while at the same time taking care of me. It was like giving him a chance to relive his glory days.”
The dynamic duo’s next task to tackle is dressage, with a goal of entering a combined test later in 2012. The dressage phase of combined training shouldn’t be a problem, at least when it comes to flying changes and riding off of the nuances of one’s seat and weight distribution.
“Trevi’s very responsive to aids, but I didn’t realize how much so until one night when a few of my friends and I were going through a jump course we’d set up,” explained Chelsie. “My friend said something and I turned, laughing, to respond to her. As soon as my weight shifted, Trevi switched leads and did a sharp turn in the direction I was looking. I realized from that point, getting a flying lead change from him is as simple as a slight change in my head position.”
While Trevi may have changed hands a number of times since his racing days ended, Chelsie says she’ll be his last owner.
“Trevi has taken up a huge place in my heart, and in the hearts of my friends and family. He will retire with me. He will always be part of our family. I want my future children to begin their journey with horses being carried along on his back. He’s the best teacher I’ve had; who better to teach the ones I love? With Trevi, I’ve struck gold.”
If you have or know of a retired Thoroughbred with an interesting story to tell, we’d love to hear about it! Just email Jen Roytz (Jenlroytz@gmail.com) with the horse’s Jockey Club name, background story, and a few photos.
Jen Roytz is the marketing and communications director at Three Chimneys Farm in Midway, Kentucky. She also handles the farm’s Thoroughbred aftercare efforts. She currently owns two retired Thoroughbreds: Point of Impact (by Point Given; a.k.a. Boomer), who retired from racing in late 2011 and is just starting back under saddle to find his forte as a riding horse, and Shotgun Shine (by Tale of the Cat, a.k.a. Gage), who is in training as a hunter/jumper. Contact Jen on Facebook and Twitter.