Hundreds of off-track Thoroughbreds are descending upon the Kentucky Horse Park this week to showcase their athleticism in their new careers. Among those horses are 17 registered Indiana-bred Thoroughbreds who have taken their Hoosier Horsepower to a different level with their new trainers and owners.
The Retired Racehorse Project's $100,000 Thoroughbred Makeover will be held October 2-5 in Lexington. It is a training competition and symposium featuring more than 400 recently retired Thoroughbreds competing in 10 different disciplines and team competition.
Thoroughbreds eligible to be entered in the Thoroughbred Makeover must be registered with The Jockey Club and must have raced or had a published work on or after July 1, 2017. Trainers had to apply in early December the year before and approvals were announced at the beginning of February.
Trainers can be professionals, amateurs or junior riders. In an effort to keep things even, the selected trainers all have a maximum of 10 months to retrain their retiree by the time the competition commences. Entrants have until August 1 to select the retired Thoroughbred they intend to compete.
Notable Indiana-breds include Jersey Justice, the 2017 Indiana Futurity and Hillsdale Stakes winner. The Jersey Town gelding was bred by one of Indiana's leading breeders, Greg Justice and Justice Farms, and was named the 2017 Indiana-bred 2 Year Old Colt of the Year. He is now owned by Thoroughbred Athletes Inc., which is a Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance-accredited organization based in Guthrie, Oklahoma. The now 4-year-old gelding was retired by Justice Farms directly to the organization to be a permanent ambassador resident.
Jersey Justice retired after two years of racing and earning $166,176 and went from the track to Oklahoma. He is now being trained by Rhiannon Rasmussen.
“He has been a really cool horse to work with,” says Rasmussen. “Previously, I've competed in the Makeover on war horse who were much older, so this journey has been a bit different in that regard.”
Rasmussen explains that because Jersey Justice was 3 when she started working with him, she has taken things slower to allow him to physically grow and mentally mature. “He has been extremely laid back and has proven to have a great work ethic and is an eager learner,” Rasmussen gushes.
The pair will compete in eventing and show jumpers, which began on October 2. After the competition, Jersey Justice will return to Thoroughbred Athletes Inc. to continue his career as an ambassador to inspire other horsemen and women to transition off-track Thoroughbreds into second careers.
Other Indiana-breds competing as part of the Thoroughbred Makeover include:
- Auctioner Mike (by Exterior, $2,140 LTE) bred by Kim Hammond, Dressage and Show Jumpers with Brittany Wyatt;
- Crafty Charger (by Bye Bye Crafty, $1,355 LTE) bred by Rita Huges, Eventing and Show Jumpers with Elisa Wallace;
- Handfulofpretzels (Quite A Handful, $854 LTE) bred by Arv and Jay Holden, Eventing and Show Jumpers with Lisa Riedel;
- Hurricane Pass (by Artie Schiller, $145,152 LTE) bred by Copper Gap Farm Inc., Dressage with Amanda Lane;
- Ice Bank (by Vibank, $14,927 LTE) bred by Walter T. Bates, Eventing and Freestyle with Ali Dacher;
- Lily Is Fast (by Pass Rush, $97,422 LTE) bred by Johnathan and John Meredith, Dressage and Show Jumpers with Amanda McRae;
- Mordecai (by Cyclone, $94,428 LTE) bred by Larry and Charlene Whitaker, Show Hunter and Show Jumpers with Brandi Palmer;
- Negu (by Lantana Mob, $15,101 LTE) bred by McEnglewood Farm, Dressage with Kylie Cook (Junior);
- Noble Apollo (by Noble's Promise, $518 LTE) bred by Noble Breeding LLC and Kelly Colliver, Ranch Work and Competitive Trail with Timothy Brock;
- Pleasant Truth (by Pleasantly Perfect, $25,217 LTE) bred by Mast Thoroughbreds LLC, Polo with Justin Powers;
- Red Spots (by Rock Pulpit, $14,502 LTE) bred by Tommy Wente Jr. and Jeff McGuire, Ranch Work and Competitive Trail with Lisa Vaccaro;
- Senor Gato (by Cat Dreams, $127,536 LTE) bred by Jody and Anthony Guida, Eventing and Dressage with Emmy Mulvey;
- Sky Draw (by Skylord, $19,250 LTE) bred by Ron Bates Racing Stables LLC, Dressage with Corinne Winkle;
- Tony of Cleveland (by Lantana Mob) bred by Louann Lossen, Competitive Trail and Dressage with Louann Sanders;
- Tyoga Six (by Bye Bye Crafty, $70,336 LTE) bred by Rita Huges, Show Hunter and Show Jumpers with Jessica Bloom; and
- Valor of War (by Desert Warrior, $845 LTE) bred by Randy Haffner, Dressage and Field Hunter with Holly Zecchin
“The Thoroughbred Makeover competition is so unique and exciting; we applaud the Retired Racehorse Project for all the work they put into this event and dedication in providing alternative opportunities for retired Thoroughbreds,” says Jessica Barnes, Director of Racing and Breed Development for the Indiana Horse Racing Commission. “We are excited to celebrate Indiana-breds moving onto their next career. Such opportunities show that racehorses are indeed versatile and showcase their ability to move into other arenas.”
At the 2018 edition of the Thoroughbred Makeover, another Justice Farm Indiana-bred took home top honors. Amateur rider Toni Harmon piloted Regal Justice (by Regal Ransom) to the Ranch Work championship, and second in the Competitive Trail.
More information about the Thoroughbred Makeover can be found here.
Learn more at the Indiana Horse Racing Commission.
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