Krista Hodgkin not only volunteered to be the secretary for the inaugural Thoroughbred Celebration show in June, but she also rode her off-the-track Thoroughbred mare Well Spent (race name All Game) there.
Hodgkin, Roanoke, Va., and Well Spent, or “Rita,” qualified for and earned ribbons in both the hunter and jumper stake classes. Rita also carried Sarah Vest, 11, to second place in a walk-trot pleasure class.
“I think opportunities like the Thoroughbred Celebration help create a level playing field for these horses,” said Hodgkin. “Also, by having OTTB shows that offer prizes and prize money, it may encourage the retraining of more OTTBs to be successful as hunters and jumpers.
When Hodgkin bought Rita in 2007 as a green 6-year-old, the only real information she had about her was from her Jockey Club papers. Rita (Game Quoit—Squirt Can) was bred by Doodles Howland and raced six times as a 4-year-old, placing a few times.
“When the time came for me to go horse hunting, my farrier mentioned her to me, as he knew Debbie Fishback, who had her at her farm to sell for the owners, John and Julie Coles,” Hodgkin said. “After he described how athletic she was, and that she had already had time off from the track and had begun the retraining process, I drove up to look at her. I tried her in a small open field next to a road, and she was up but never spooked at the traffic going by.
“After buying her, I took the time to do a lot of flatwork with her and showed her very lightly that summer, only going to maybe six shows jumping 2'3" hunter courses and figuring each other out,” continued Hodgkin. “The following year, I was in professional training with Chris Kelly and Billie Rae Croll. My mare, whom I named Well Spent, was the 2008 year-end green hunter champion for the Southwest Virginia Hunter/Jumper Association. This year under Billie Rae’s training, we are successfully competing in the adult amateur hunters and pre-green hunters at local and rated shows.”
When Hodgkin had to put together a biography for Rita for the Thoroughbred Celebration, she researched the mare’s breeder and history in more detail. Howland was happy to share more information about Rita’s days as a racehorse.
“Doodles sold my mare as a 3-year-old through the first ever Charles Town Thoroughbred Horse Sales. She was the highest-priced Thoroughbred to go through that sale and was sold to the family of James W. Casey. How she ended up with the Coles family? I still need to research that!” admitted Hodgkin. “I have since sent Doodles some pictures of my mare successfully competing in hunter and equitation classes. She was thrilled to hear that the mare is going well.”