I feel like I repeat myself a lot, but you guys. Thoroughbreds are awesome.
I just finished my yearly pillaging of the Fédération Equestre Internationale, T.I.P, Pedigree Query, Jockey Club, New Zealand Studbook, Australian Thoroughbred registry, the Online names book and Equibase online databases in order to figure out just how many Thoroughbreds we get to watch jumping around one of the greatest cross-country tracks in the world on the greatest weekend all year—the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event on April 28-May 1.
I’ve been a part of the Thoroughbred rehoming “movement” for coming up on 20 years (Wow I’m old!), and so many things have changed in that time, but you know what hasn’t changed? Thoroughbreds running at four-star events.
|Not only have Lynn Symansky and OTTB Donner jumped around Rolex Kentucky twice, but they’ve also completed the Pau CCI**** and competed for the USA at the 2011 Pan American Games in Mexico and the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in France. Photo by Allie Conrad Photography.|
When the long format went away, I remember hearing about how Thoroughbreds wouldn’t have a place in eventing anymore, but my thought was that there is always a place for a budget-priced athletic horse with talent and promise.
It does seem like that is the case, because the total number of Thoroughbreds (including those who are unregistered and/or unraced) entered at Rolex Kentucky is 30 as of right now. Thirty. THIRTY! Out of 90 entrants, one-third are 100 percent Thoroughbred.
If I were to dig further, I would bet that a whole lot of those who aren’t full Thoroughbred are out of Thoroughbred mares, and I can just about guarantee that not one horse in the trot-up is without some significant Thoroughbred blood.
I was having a chat with Denny Emerson about whether or not the classic stamp of a Thoroughbred was available to American buyers any longer. You know the type—tall, big withers, good bone, quiet, trainable brain and SOUND who could compete on the world stage. I responded that I truly believed they were out there, but they were no longer a dime a dozen, and they were getting harder to find because more people were shopping for them.
|Fly Me Courageous had 10 starts at the track before he began his eventing career. He finished 19th at last year’s Rolex Kentucky with Sara Kozumplik Murphy, and they are back again this year. Photo by Allie Conrad Photography.|
More people on the backsides of racetracks across the country means that people are able to pick through for the nice(r) horses. Prior to the efforts of CANTER and many other groups, visiting the backside of the track was reserved for people who “knew a guy” (or gal) at the track. Lucky horse sellers and trainers would have a contact at the track who would let them see horses for sale when they were no longer competitive on the track.
Those with the contacts on the backside would cheaply buy the nice horse, and the unlucky lot they passed over would ship “down the road.” There was a filtering system in place, but it resulted in the slaughter of thousands of horses that were not the perfect fit.
Now we’re seeing far more horses sold from the racetrack into sport horse homes— an exponential number leaving the track for a second career. Unfortunately many of those aren’t coming out of racing sound enough for an upper-level career (but might be fine for many other careers). Increased purses at lower-level tracks, year-round racing, advances in medications (both legal and illegal) mean that horses are running more often and in many cases beyond when they should retire. This in turn leaves a lot of horses who might be rehabilitated to have a lovely lower-level job, but they will not withstand the rigors of upper levels of sport.
|Tsunami returns for her fifth attempt at Rolex Kentucky with Sally Cousins in the irons. This mare raced as Tsu Tsu Ro and made more than $35,000 on the track. Photo by Allie Conrad Photography.|
The problem with the classic stamp of Thoroughbred—that stunning image of form following function—is that they make awfully good race horses, too. How many of us have watched the Kentucky Derby and thought, “I think Hard Spun wants to event!” or “Quality Road could DEFINITELY get a piece of the hack!”
So finding that perfect specimen is a challenge, but it’s not impossible, and looking at this list of Thoroughbreds entered in Rolex is proof positive of not only their existence, but their prepotency.
Going to the track with an educated eye, a budget for a thorough vetting, and understanding that the perfect specimen is no longer going to cost $700, and we might see you signed up to canter down centerline in front of some terrifying judges on America’s sport horse.
The Thoroughbreds of the 2016 Rolex Kentucky CCI****
|OTTB||James Allison||Parker||Eastside Park (NJ), 2002 gelding, (Marquetry—Hello Mom, Caveat)
15 starts – 0 win – 0 place – 3 show, $8,145 earnings
|OTTB||Laine Ashker||Anthony Patch||Alex’s Castledream (NJ), 1999 gelding, (Castle Guard—Aimee Alexis, Right Mind)
10 starts – 0 win – 0 place – 0 show, $815 earnings
|CANTER MA Listing!|
|OTTB||Lisa Barry||F.I.S. Prince Charming||Waitui Jo (NZ), 2003 gelding, (His Royal Highness—Mystic, Defensive Play)
2 starts – 0 win – 0 place – 0 show, $0 earnings
|OTTB||Holly Payne Caravella||Santino
Santino (USA) 2003 gelding (Son’s Corona—Equate, Raja Baba)
15 Starts, $5K in earnings
|OTTB||Kyle Carter||Madison Park||Magic Retribution (WA), 1998 gelding, (Monaco Magic—Mistress of Mine, Band Practice)
11 starts – 1 win – 0 place – 0 show, $2,744 earnings
|OTTB||Anna Collier||Gleaming Road||Pistol Pakin Pete (WA), 2003 gelding, ( Cahill Road—Aspiring Proof, Proof)
22 starts – 3 wins – 3 place – 3 show, $19,383 earnings
|OTTB||Sarah Cousins||Tsunami||Tsu Tsu Ro (PA), 1999 mare, (Roanoke—Tsu Tsu Slew, Tsunami Slew)
24 starts – 3 wins – 2 place – 4 show, $35,170 earnings
|OTTB||Holly Jacks||More Inspiration||
More Inspiration (CAN) 2006 gelding (Inspired Prospect—Gentle Buck, Buckley Boy)
|OTTB||Ashley Johnson||Tactical Maneuver||
Shykees Thunder (USA) 2005 gelding (Thunder Gulch—Chelle Spendabuck, Dare And Go
|OTTB||Alexandra Knowles||The Dark Mark||Tattoo unreadable|
|OTTB||Alexandra Knowles||Sound Prospect||Sound Prospect (KY), 2002 gelding, (Eastern Echo—Miners Girl, Miner’s Mark)
13 starts – 0 win – 2 place – 1 show, $2,546 earnings
|OTTB||Sara Kozumplik Murphy||Fly Me Courageous||Truly Improper (TX), 2005 gelding, (Truluck—Proper Eight, Proper Reality)
10 starts – 0 win – 1 place – 0 show, $3,630 earnings
|OTTB||Leah Lang-Gluscic||AP Prime||A. P. Prime (KY), 2005 gelding, (Aptitude—Czarina Kate, The Prime Minister)
31 starts – 2 wins – 4 place – 5 show, $20,175 earnings
|CANTER trainer listing|
|OTTB||Boyd Martin||Blackfoot Mystery||
Blackfoot Mystery (USA) 2004 gelding (Out Of Place—True Mystery, Proud Truth)
|OTTB||Rachel McDonough||Irish Rhythm||Daniel Alexander (ON), 1999 gelding, (Vice Chancellor—Dawnsari, Dawn Flight)
43 starts – 1 win – 3 place – 4 show, $25,923 earnings
|OTTB||Katie Ruppel||Houdini||Rocky Times (WV), 2004 gelding, (Hot Rock—Nancy’s Star, Big Sal)
5 starts – 0 win – 0 place – 1 show, $1,180 earnings
|OTTB||Bunnie Sexton||Rise Against||Trabuco Kid (CA), 1999 gelding, (Far Out East—April Betty, Distant Land)
4 starts – 0 win – 0 place – 0 show, $0 earnings
|OTTB||Lynn Symansky||Donner||Smart Gorky (NY), 2003 gelding, (Gorky Park—Smart Jane, Smarten)
6 starts – 0 win – 0 place – 0 show, $2,870 earnings
|OTTB||Elisa Wallace||Simply Priceless||Kalinga Damo (AUS), 2001 gelding, (Waterford Road—Faux Franc, Twig Moss)
10 starts – 0 win – 0 show – 1 place, $711 earnings
|OTTB||Ryan Wood||Frankie||Pass This (USA) 2004 gelding (Mr. Sinatra—Pass Or Punt, Once Wild)|
|unraced||Holly Payne Caravella||Never Outfoxed||Never Outfoxed (FL) 2006 gelding (Veronica’s Sir—Caroverse, Opening Verse)|
|unraced||Angela Grzywinski||Novelle||Cupid’s Tart (USA) 2002 mare (Frisk Me Now—Teetawk, Lil E. Tee)|
|unraced||Boyd Martin||Steady Eddie||2003 Australian-bred gelding (Jetball—Tudnela)|
|unraced||Daniela Mogul||Cecelia||2003 New Zealand-bred mare (Connecticut—Penny Stock)|
|unraced||Waylon Roberts||Kelecyn Cognac||2003 Australian-bred gelding|
|unregistered||Buck Davidson||Petite Flower||2002 U.S.-bred mare (Amber’s Lust—Tears Of A Loss, Prince Rupert)|
|unregistered||Lillian Heard||FYI||2001 U.S.-bred gelding (Babamist—Guinevere’s Gift|
|unknown||Avery Klunick||In It To Win It||2001 New Zealand-bred gelding|
|unknown||Caroline Martin||Quantum Solace||2005 Argentinean-bred gelding|
|unknown||Ryan Wood||McLovin||2004 U.S.-bred gelding (Dixieland Band—Too Sheik|