The Thoroughbred Celebration Horse Shows, hosted by the Virginia Horse Center in Lexington, wrapped up the 2010 “triple crown” series on November 20 & 21. Representing tracks across the country, 135 former racing athletes converged upon the East Complex for a weekend packed with Hunter, Jumper and Pleasure classes. The beautifully decorated mezzanine with racing silks from Maryland and colorful banners donated by Suffolk Downs, welcomed exhibitors from as far away as Massachusetts, Kentucky and South Carolina.
“Full Fields” were the standard throughout the show, with both the Suffolk and Monmouth Hunter Over Fences having more than forty entries. Flat classes proved to be just as competitive with thirty-nine entries in the Blue Horse Charities Pleasure Walk/Trot. The highly coveted $1,000 After the Finish Line Hunter Stake, sponsored by ATFL Founder, Dawn Mellen, was won by Myles, formerly known as Recipe, a son of Waquoit who last raced at Penn National in 2002. Besting a field of twenty qualifiers, Myles was ridden to the win by Gordon Reistrup of Virgina. Myles was also the recipient of the Hunter Style Award, donated by Sarah Starr and her OTTB Wedonit and the What If Memorial Trophy for the series high score for the Pimlico Hunter, donated by Susan Hansen and Liz Hansen Hinds
Cat Woman, formerly known as Run Son, an unraced daughter of Megason, won the $1,000 Virginia Horse Center Jumper Stake. Cat Woman and owner/rider Chrissy Pagani were also the Saratoga Jumper Champions. The Jumper Style Award, donated by North Shore Design, Tom and Nancy Ginaven, was presented to Hollywoodland, owned by Sandron/Joe Fargis and ridden by Karin Barreau. The oldest horse of the show, Pilgrim, at age twenty-two, won the Churchill Downs Jumper Championship with his owner/rider Leslie Trimble of West Virginia. The Fasig-Tipton Model, newly introduced in 2010, had twenty-two immaculately groomed entries with their handlers. The blue ribbon and custom dress cooler donated by The Clothes Horse, was presented to Meant To Be and her owner Caitlin Zoetis. Another special series award, the R. Huey Versatility Award, donated by Hannah Ong in honor of her fantastic gelding who was retired at the March Thoroughbred Celebration, was presented to Frankly My Dear, formerly known as Struggler’s Legend. Frankly My Dear, owned by Katie Gardner, was chosen out of thirty nominees in recognition of his success in hunter, jumper, trail, hunter pace, and model pursuits all within his first two years off the racetrack.
A retirement ceremony was held for the gelding One More for the Road, formerly known as P Day. Spectators looked on with admiration as he bid his working life farewell, while strains of Run for the Roses underscored the reading of his impressive biography which included 57 starts in 8 years, winning $683,000. Owned by Chrissy Resch of Maryland, One More for the Road has competed at the Thoroughbred Celebration Horse Shows since their inception. Each of these horses has a remarkable story to share, but there is one in particular from this weekend that has made a lasting impression. Igor, a 2001 Kentucky bred son of Stravinsky, who last raced 10-21-2009 at Penn National competed with his owner/rider Lexi Robinson of Winticomack Farm, LLC. In a five year racing career, Igor had sixty-two starts, won $186,533 and was claimed 11 times. The comment for his last start was "eased". Fortunately Igor has been given a second chance to shine, as have many other OTTBs that compete in these shows.
The silent auction, another great tradition of these shows, raised $2,600.00 for After the Finish Line. Tables filled with over seventy items stretched the length of the ringside bleachers. Some of the most notable items auctioned were a Zenyatta jersey, signed by jockey Mike Smith, bottles of red wine from Mike's winery, and memorabilia from the movie Secretariat, graciously donated and autographed by jockey Tom Foley. Mr. Foley, fresh from the cast of the recent film Secretariat, was on hand for a book signing of his memoir The Simple Game. He also was a willing participant in the inaugural Stick Horse Race, a once-around-the-show-ring dash that set impressive fractions and raised more money for After the Finish Line. Video link to Stick Horse Race: www.youtube.com/watch?v=shS5Qi09uxQ
The Thoroughbred Celebration Horse Shows endeavor to increase the secondary market for OTTBs by encouraging equestrians to open their stables to these incredible, versatile horses, giving them another chance for greatness. This mission continues to be the driving force for these competitions, and was showcased in an artistic way at this show. Nearly fifty wine bottles labeled with horses available for adoption through New Vocations, Illinois Equine Humane Center, Thoroughbred Placement and Rescue and Canter Mid Atlantic were on display with their descriptions for all to see. They were quite the topic of conversation!
Due to the fantastic growth in entries this year, the Thoroughbred Celebration is expanding to a three day schedule for each of the 2011 horse shows. Join us March 18-20, June 10-12, and November 18-20 to watch these former racehorses succeed in new careers. More information can be found at www.horsecenter.org and on Facebook: Thoroughbred Celebration Horse Shows. All photos from this show are available through our Official Horse Show Photographer: Danny Young/Action Shots Photography: www.csyoung.smugmug.com
We are hopeful that the concept will spread across the country. The only video we have is from the Stick Horse Race, but I am sure there are several private videos on YouTube if you type in Thoroughbred Celebration or TB Celebration.
Plenty of pictures on Danny Youngs Smugmug
, it is a great show, and there are several regional shows that are offering OTTB classes that will allow exhibitors to qualify for the Thoroughbred Celebration Hunter and Jumper stakes. House Mountain show series is one, and there are some others.
They do not have to be off the track, but in order to compete, the owner must provide documentation that the horse was in training for the track. Any questions regarding eligibility should be sent to our show chairperson: firstname.lastname@example.org She is more than happy to help with anyone's search.
After the Finish Line is the recipient of the proceeds from the silent auction at the Thoroughbred Celebration Horse Shows. We are grateful to partner with these shows to promote the ex-racers in a Hunter or Jumper career.
After the Finish Line is a 501 (c) 3 funding non-profit dedicated to helping Thoroughbred horses that can no longer race or breed. We provide monthly emergency funds and yearly grants to qualified Thoroughbred rescue organizations that save, care for and rehabilitate these talented Thoroughbreds so they can excel in a second career.
It's as though these show horses are paying it forward for other horses that are less fortunate. They now have the opportunity to get the attention they need and deserve. Every horse deserves a second chance. Their hidden potential knows no boundaries.
After the Finish Line board members don't receive any compensation. We volunteer our time and work from our homes. We have a pro-bono attorney, a pro-bono web designer and a pro-bono printer.
After the Finish Line hosts their summer fundraiser in Del Mar, CA during the Del Mar race meet. We are also hosting a fundraiser on Feb. 6, 2011 at the IMPROV ~ Los Angeles called "Stand Up For Horses".
We couldn't do what we do without the support of these organizations and our donors across the United States. Thank you again to the Thoroughbred Celebration Horse Shows. We look forward to a great year of shows in 2011.