He wasn’t much of a racehorse, but Hollywood Hero is excelling at his new career as a show hunter. Just five years old, the dark bay was presented with the $3,500 TAKE2 Thoroughbred Bonus as the top Thoroughbred competing in this year’s Texas Pre-Green Super Stakes Series. The ceremony was held Friday, Nov. 16, at the Autumn Classic Horse Show in Katy, TX.
The TAKE2 program was created by the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, the New York Thoroughbred Breeders Inc. and the New York Racing Association to promote the value of the Thoroughbred in the sport horse world. The program offers prize money in hunter and jumper classes restricted to registered Thoroughbreds. The inaugural 2012 season was co-sponsored by the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and, in Texas, by The Paddock Foundation, a subsidiary of the Texas Thoroughbred Association devoted to supporting rescue, retirement, rehabilitation, retraining and rehoming of retired racehorses. TAKE2 distributed more than $40,000 in prize money at AA-rated horse shows in 2012.
Hollywood Hero, a son of Arch bred in Kentucky by Bruce Lunsford and trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, finished last in his only race, a maiden special weight event at Tampa Bay Downs in March of 2010. A year later, Texas teenager Allison Jones and her trainer, Shannon Slyfield, were shopping for a new hunter, and heard about a 4-year-old Thoroughbred on the market.
Slyfield’s first reaction? “A 4-year-old Thoroughbred for my student?” But it didn’t take long before she was sold on the gelding.
“I just fell in love with him,” she said. “He is absolutely wonderful.”
Slyfield could see right away why Hollywood Hero might not have had what it took to compete on the track, but would be well suited to his second career.
“He’s so quiet, but he’s perfect for what he does now,” she said. “He loves his new job.”
For Slyfield, and for a growing segment of the hunter/jumper community, the Thoroughbred is the horse of choice.
“Thoroughbreds are athletic and they have such heart–they try so hard,” the trainer remarked. “If you put a jump in front of them, they will try their best to jump it. They have the classic hunter style, and I think that’s coming back into fashion. The older judges seem to like Hollywood Hero a lot. He’s a big horse, and just beautiful. He has great quality and a great temperament.”
Slyfield was thrilled to participate in the TAKE2 program this year, and she believes it’s raising awareness of the value of the Thoroughbred in the show ring.
“It’s a great program and I definitely think it is helping to make Thoroughbreds more popular,” she said. “The TAKE2 Thoroughbred Bonus for the Texas Pre-Green Super Stakes Series got a lot of exposure, and more and more people are getting interested. A lot of us grew up riding Thoroughbreds, and now you are starting to see them come back into the show ring. It’s nice to have an incentive like the TAKE2 program that encourages people to go out and purchase a Thoroughbred.”