Lexington, Ky.—Oct. 5
Katherine Deichmann didn’t think much of Tenpin Sugar when she first met the 6-year-old mare (Tenpins—Hurricane Amy, Storm Cat). Deichmann’s grandfather breeds race horses, and sourced the mare from trainer Edelmiro Carrizales.
“We’ve gotten so many horses off the track before that my grandfather knew she would fit right in with us,” Deichmann said. “She’s a little plain bay, we didn’t think anything was going to come of her. But we jumped her over her first jump and went ‘Holy cow! She’s so nice!’ ”
“Maple’s” aptitude for jumping inspired Deichmann to aim for the Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium, and their hard work paid off with a win in the show jumping division.
Maple stayed with Deichmann’s grandfather during her let down period, then moved to Deichmann’s Hunters Chase Farms in Wimberly, Texas, where Deichmann started training her. She even participated in an Intercollegiate Horse Show Association show with the Texas State equestrian team, which Deichmann has coached for six years.
Maple was a surprise Christmas present for her owner, Sarah Sheets, who attends Texas State and rides on the IHSA team.
“She came last October, Katherine put me on her and it was like love at first sight,” said Sheets. “My mom totally surprised me, but I don’t ever plan on letting [Maple] go.”
This was Deichmann’s first time at the Thoroughbred Makeover, but she’s already making plans to return in 2020.
“We decided she had a good chance out here and she proved us right,” Deichmann said of Maple. “She’s awesome. I think she has a big career ahead of her; she’ll be able to do the derbies and all that. She’s so versatile and she loves to perform. I can’t help but have a big goofy grin on my face every time I ride because I’m just having fun. Thoroughbreds are my passion and I’m so glad they’re my job regardless of if we place first or 10th.”
Redemption For Napravnik
Rosie Napravnik has competed in the Thoroughbred Makeover four times since she retired from her career as a professional jockey in 2014. Her best finish was in 2018, when she and Imalreadythere placed third overall in the eventing division. She returned in 2019 with Sanimo, a 4-year-old gelding (Smart Strike—Sanima, Galileo) with the desire to win and the confidence to back that desire up.
“I actually said after the Makeover last year that I was going to win this year with this horse,” said Napravnik, a professional trainer from Kentucky. “All season I had a horse who looked more promising, and he made it into the finale but got knocked down a few places. This horse came on the last day and just performed outstandingly and he is much deserving. This is the horse I always hoped to keep and take up the levels myself so it’s even more rewarding to win on him.”
Diplomat’s Win For Chasers
Sara Katz, a steeplechase jockey and trainer, and Diplomat, a former steeplechase champion, led the field hunter division from day one. They continued to impress the judges in the finale to take the championship.
“This is the biggest accomplishment of my life,” Katz said through tears. “Winning this event shows me how much my hard work paid off and I’m so excited. This horse is amazing, he’s the sweetest thing ever and I hope to compete him more in fox hunting in the future.
Change Of Plans Are No Problem For Fifth Ace
Alison O’Dwyer planned to bring Fifth Ace (Bernardini—Model, Giant’s Causeway) to the Kentucky Horse Park a week before the Makeover to compete in the Jump Start Horse Trials, but 4-year-old Fifth Ace had other plans.
“His first full day at [my trainer Dorothy Crowell’s] farm he jumped two fence lines and got caught in a third and we had to go to Hagyard to get him looked at,” said O’Dwyer, a professional trainer based in Laurel, Maryland. “I had my first ride on him down here on Monday, but he had a whole week off before that.”
Despite their early difficulties, O’Dwyer and Fifth Ace recovered to win the dressage competition.
O’Dwyer was reserve champion in the eventing competition at the 2017 and 2018 Makeover, and she said she’s excited to keep Fifth Ace as her personal horse instead of selling him.
“I just really like bringing along young horses on the flat,” she said. “And I really like a competition that appreciates that developmental aspect of it. I just loved [Fifth Ace] from the moment I got on him; he’s perfectly in the middle, not a kick ride, not a pulling ride, and that’s definitely my style.”
America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred
The day concluded with all 10 champions returning to the JTCA Covered Arena. Each competitor had one minute to convince the crowd they deserved to win the Thoroughbred Makeover championship, then the audience had 15 minutes to text in their votes. When the results were tallied, Fallon Taylor and Cowboy Swagger (Grindstone—One Fast Cowgirl, Baquero), champions from the barrel racing division, came out on top.
“I am so thrilled; I want to thank everyone for voting, that means that many people have their eyes on this contest and this is a really special horse,” said Taylor, a professional from Texas. “A really good friend of mine told me to purchase this horse because she loved him on the track so I bought him sight unseen. I think the coolest part of Thoroughbreds is that I’m sitting here with two coolers, roses, people all around, cameras pointing at us and he’s completely unaffected. They really want to please and be helpful, and they’re made to run, so they’re made for this job; we just have to be patient and kind teaching them the patterns.”
Catch up on all The Chronicle’s coverage of the 2018 Thoroughbred Makeover here.
Full results here.