OTTB Showcase: Unjust (a.k.a. “Louis”)
More and more these days I'm coming across breeders who look out for their charges long after they leave their care. This is one of those stories.
Unjust was bred by Loren Hebel-Osborne and Carol W. Hebel and was raised on Loren and her husband, David's, farm in Prospect, Kentucky.
The Loren and David are well-known in racing and breeding circles due to not only their hands-on and detailed approach to racing, breeding and selling, but also thanks to their careers in racing and politics respectively.
After growing up on the Osborne's farm, Unjust was sent to the track under the tutelage of trainer Paul McGee. He showed talent from the start, winning first time out and again in his third start. Over the next four years, Unjust raced at mainly the allowance level and racked up six wins across the Midwest.
During that time, he surely caught the eye of many horsemen and women, but one in particular took a liking to him.
“I met Unjust in 2008 when I was working as an assistant trainer for Paul McGee at Churchill Downs,” said Lauren Bullard. “I also met his owner/breeders Loren Hebel-Osborne and David Osborne there and loved them. I took Unjust and a small string to Oaklawn Park in 2010 [for McGee]. He was one of my absolute favorites.”
“He was entered for $7,500 and won, but was claimed from us,” explained Lauren. “I was heartbroken, as was Loren. We cried together on the phone as he was led away from us by his new connections. I couldn't look at the win picture for months or take his name off of his feed tub.”
Unjust remained in the claiming ranks after that day, running roughly once a month at Mountaineer, Oaklawn, and Indiana Downs.
“He was entered for $5,000 on June 17th at Churchill Downs and Loren decided to claim him back and retire him,” said Lauren. “That's the greatest thing about the Osbornes. Every horse they own is guaranteed that they will have a home when they retire, even if they have to go out and claim them back.”
Unjust retired with just over $100,000 earned in 28 starts and was promptly shipped back to the farm where he was raised.
Having grown up riding hunter/jumpers, Lauren decided to get Louis, as Unjust became known around the farm, going as a hunter.
“Every afternoon after training hours at the track, I'd go ride Louis,” said Lauren. “He's smart, athletic, brave and laid back outside of the ring. When he goes in, he puffs up and jumps anything and everything put in front of him, and he does it fast! He decided he wanted to be a jumper instead of a hunter.”
December of 2010 was Louis's first jumper show, and he finished third in his first class as a jumper. He and Lauren have stayed competitive since, participating in a number of the Thoroughbred Horse Show Association shows.
In a funny twist of fate, Lauren now works for the Osbornes on their farm retraining the retired racehorses.
“I get to ride my beloved Louis every day and I'm looking forward to competing in more Thoroughbred shows this year,” said Lauren. “I hope more people realize what amazing horses these OTTBs are in and out of the ring.”
Name: Unjust (a.k.a. “Louis”)
Sale History: none
Race Record: 28-6-2-2
Race Earnings: $101,102
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.