A horse of a lifetime can come from just about anywhere. For Ashley Thompson of Troy, Mo., he came from the backside at Fairmount Park and has turned out to be all she had hoped for and then some.
If horse racing was a beauty contest, this guy would have been a Grade 1 star. However, racing as Valmor, things went a different direction — and more slowly. “Volt” as he's known around the farm, made just two starts in his brief career – one at Hawthorne and the other at Fairmount Park. Failing to hit the board in either, he was offered for sale on the CANTER Illinois website by his trainer on behalf of his owner/breeders.
“He hated the starting gate,” said Thompson, Volt's current owner and rider. “Then, once he broke out, he thought he was just out for a Sunday stroll and made no effort to run fast. I found him on the CANTER website as soon as he had been posted and called the trainer right then, while I was at a wedding reception!”
Ashley scheduled an appointment to see the beautiful, slow gelding the next morning, along with two other horses she had her eye on.
“Volt was the last one I looked at and I fell in love as soon as he walked out of the stall,” said Thompson. “He was the ideal tall, dark and handsome gelding of my dreams, with a huge trot and mellow attitude.”
Trainer John Wainwright was receiving more calls about the gelding from his CANTER profile as Thompson was there looking at him. The gelding was a wanted man.
“Before I even left the track I had already decided on his show name, Lord Voldemort,” said Thompson. “I offered close to the asking price, did not do a pre-purchase exam because I was in a time crunch, he only had two starts and he moved like God, so I wasn't concerned.”
The decision to get Volt was a good one. The tall, dark and handsome gelding has grown into a taller, lighter and even more handsome show horse who, when not jumping around the show ring in the 3' hunter division, can tote Thompson's niece around in Western tack.
Thompson, who works as an emergency room nurse and also volunteers with CANTER Illinois, still keeps in touch with his trainer as well, sharing photos and stories with him about his old charge several times a year.
“His racing connections love seeing pictures of him jumping and are so happy that he worked out so well for me,” said Thompson. “OTTBs are my passion. They are some of the most dedicated, athletic creatures I've ever met. Once they come home from the track and settle into the routine, they are so happy to see you and try new things. They seem to have the mindset of never giving up – that might be my favorite quality.”
Jen Roytz is a marketing, publicity and comprehensive communications specialist based in Lexington, Kentucky. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, her professional focus lies in the fields of equine, health care, corporate and non-profit marketing. She holds board affiliations with the Make a Wish Foundation, Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance and the Retired Racehorse Project, among others. While she currently has no plans to build an arc, she is the go-to food source for two dogs, two cats and two off-track Thoroughbreds.
Email Jen your story ideas at [email protected]l.com or connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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