What happens when 300 freshly retired racehorses converge on a single horse show? Makeover magic.
With $100,000 in prize money up for grabs, the stakes were higher than ever at the 2016 Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium, but the mission remained the same: “to showcase the trainability and talent of off-track-Thoroughbreds, to inspire good trainers to engage in the process of transitioning these horses to second careers, and to educate the people involved in the care, training, and sale of these horses to responsible owners.”
All of the competing horses are recently retired from the racetrack, and trainers had just a few months to focus all that youthful, hot-blooded energy in new directions and prepare them fit to be judged in at least two of ten possible disciplines. Judges selected a winner from each discipline but in the end, only one could carry home the title of America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred.
That distinction belongs to Fairway King, a 4-year-old gelding under the guidance of Lauren Turner of Jasper, Georgia. The Florida-bred son of the late Leroidesanimeaux, who most notably sired 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom, earned $20,000 in 9 career starts, his last coming in July of 2015. The duo earned the $15,000 grand prize at the Makeover thanks to a pair of stellar dressage tests, besting 80 fellow competitors in the discipline.
It was an especially serendipitous moment for Turner, as she initially passed on “King” until his then-owner called her back and pleaded with her to give him a shot.
“I found him last August,” she said. “Picked him out of a field. He was the most underweight and had an awful upside down neck. But there was something about him that reminded me of my other horse. There’s something about his eye that I really fell in love with.”
Turner, an event rider who trains at River Birch Farm in Jasper, GA, admitted the Thoroughbred Makeover was not on her radar when she purchased the young gelding last summer.
“I didn’t pick this horse for the RRP. I just knew my other horse was going to be retiring soon and I’d need another up and coming horse. You show up to win, of course…Did I think I’d win? No!”
Turner noted that while her Makeover experience ended on top, the road to Lexington had plenty of ups and downs.
“It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that he found his balance and started to really connect. It was like a switch went off. To me, at the end of the day it’s really them being trainable and being your partner, way more than it’s about anything else because you can have a super talented horse but if they’re not on your team, you’re not going to win, or even complete.”
Here are the top 3 in each division:
1. Deborah Keiser with Morning Rainbow (by Judge Vonsteubon)
2. Mindy Stoops with Bad Girl Phase (by Justenuffhumor)
3. Lance Graves with Rodeo Buckle (by B L’s Appeal)
1. Lindsey Partridge and Trivia Time (by Like the Prospects)
2. Amara Underwood and Barticus (by Banachek)
3. Lindsey Partridge and Pentland (by Borrego)
1. Lauren Turner with Fairway King (by Leroidesanimaux)
2. Laura Borghesani with Cinmars Dance (by Cindago)
3. Emily Brollier Curtis with Dancing Commander (by Mr. Triest)
1. Cathy Wieschhoff and Speed Rail (by Purge)
2. Elisa Wallace with Heron’s Waltz (by Garnered)
3. Cathy Wieschhoff with Title Contender (by Pulpit)
1. Sarah Davis with J.J.’s Local Law (by Deputy Rokeby)
2. Sarah McMerty with Beau Fox (by Don Rigo)
3. Lindsey Partridge with Pentland (by Borrego)
1. Lindsey Partridge and Trivia Time (by Borrego)
2. Cedar Potts and Majestic Lad (by Majestic Warrior)
3. Clovis Crane with Empire Road (by Corinthian)
1. Buck Schott and Strong Angel (by Thunder Gulch)
2. Marisa Bianchi with Thunderonthebeach (by Thunder Gulch)
3. Juan Carlos Gonzalez with Illbegettinggold (by Gottcha Gold)
1. Tyler Weith and Greeley’s Magic (by Greeley’s Conquest)
2. Sarah Berkowitz with My Prize Now (by Teuflesberg)
3. Alex Shokat with Half the Battle (by Showing Up)
1. Isabela de Sousa and Carajillo (by Medaglia d’Oro)
2. Amara Underwood and Gold Medallion (by Medaglia d’Oro)
3. Dyanna Capuano and Idle Spur (by Read the Footnotes)
1. Russell Littlefield and Trick Roper (by Datrick)
2. Stan Smith and Flo’s Strawberry (by Cashel Castle)
3. Dale Simanton and Quaint (by Street Sense)
For more coverage and to see which TB Makeover horses are for sale, visit retiredracehorseproject.org.