Veteran runner and fan favorite El Grande Rojo (Bowman's Band – Theheartofdixie, by Crafty Prospector) has been retired from racing by his owners, Neil and Laura Barrish, and donated to Thoroughbred Retirement of Tampa (TROT) to be retrained and adopted out. He arrived at the facility on Easter morning, which was also his 11th birthday (April 21). He retires with $442,813 in earnings.
The 11-year-old chestnut gelding gained a fan following throughout the Midwest and especially at Tampa Bay Downs, where he not only started and ended his career, but ran with consistency during the winter months. He retires with 18 victories in 84 starts, most of which came at the claiming and lower allowance levels.
The Barrishes, who have owned El Grande Rojo for his final 36 starts, always knew they wanted to retire the gelding before a physical issue forced the situation. They originally explored options of keeping him themselves as a pet, but decided that “Rojo” would be most happy in a situation in which he would continue to have a job, routine and purpose.
“They explored many options for his retirement and chose TROT based on our commitment to individualized care and passion to ensure the long term safety and happiness of our program horses,” said Summer Thurber, President and Equine Care Manager for TROT.
Thurber says she and her team will give El Grande Rojo time to let down, settle in and be assessed by the organization's veterinarian to be sure he doesn't have any prior issues that should direct or limit his future career. They plan to start him back under saddle this summer to give him a solid foundation of flat work and assess for what disciplines he might be best suited.
Most horses adopted out by TROT are eligible to be re-sold after one year, so long as the adopter meets all adoption contract requirements, including updates in the first three, six and twelve months after adoption, never allowing the horse to be offered for sale at auction, and notifying TROT of any transfer of ownership or relocation. According to Thurber, El Grande Rojo will be adopted out with a lifetime contract, meaning his adopter commits to keeping him for the duration of his life or returning him to TROT if they can no longer care for him.
“He is very special to us and has been very good to my husband and I,” said Laura Barrish. “He is a good old boy.”
Founded in 2003 as Thunder Bay Horse Rescue, Inc., the organization changed its leadership in 2009 and legally changed the name to Thoroughbred Retirement of Tampa, Inc. (TROT). TROT, a Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance-accredited and GuideStar Gold Star organization, primarily serves the horses and horsemen of Tampa Bay Downs, taking in, retraining and/or rehabilitating and adopting out recently retired racehorses to approved adopters. Most horses adopted out by TROT are required to sign a one-year adoption agreement and conditional bill of sale, which requires updates and photos submitted 3, 6 and 12 months after adoption. After one year, the horse may be sold or change hands, but TROT must always be notified of the horse's transfer of ownership and whereabouts.
“If I was to go look for a horse for myself personally, El Grande Rojo would be exactly what I would be looking for,” said Thurber. “A horse with this many races under his belt means he's seen and done a lot, has a wonderful work ethic and of course has a huge heart. We will be waiting for that potential adopter who will feel the same way and he will find his very special new home where he will be loved and appreciated for the extraordinarily special horse he is.”
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