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NYRA to Help Retired Thoroughbreds

The New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, the New York Racing Association and the New York Thoroughbred Breeders Inc. have joined forces in an endeavor to develop second career opportunities for Thoroughbreds who have been retired from racing. Dubbed TAKE2, the initiative simultaneously creates new avenues for Thoroughbreds after their racing days are over, and expands the demand for the breed in the horse show world.

 

As part of the TAKE2 program, NYTHA, NYRA and NYTB will co-sponsor Thoroughbred-only divisions for hunters and jumpers at the Skidmore College Saratoga Classic Horse Show and Saratoga Springs Horse Show in 2012. The AA-rated horse shows will be held at Saratoga Race Course this spring. New Jersey horsemen are also on board, and will sponsor Thoroughbred-only classes at the AA-rated Garden State Horse Show in May.

Promoting the Thoroughbred in the horse show world is part of the TAKE2 campaign to highlight the value of the breed beyond the racetrack. In addition, NYTHA and NYRA, as well as NYTB, have signed on to contribute to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation’s new program to retrain and adopt out as many as 100 horses per year retired from NYRA tracks. NYTHA and NYRA’s financial commitment to these efforts totals more than $250,000.

 "The welfare of our equine athletes, both during and after their racing careers, is of the utmost importance to the owners and trainers competing at NYRA’s tracks,” said NYTHA President Rick Violette Jr. “NYTHA and NYRA have long offered financial support to organizations such as the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, but we are now expanding our initiatives. We want to give our retired racehorses the opportunity to find new vocations in different equestrian disciplines.

"This is our Jobs Program,” Violette added. “Thoroughbreds are healthier and happier when they have jobs to do.”

NYRA President and CEO Charles Hayward remarked, “We are thrilled to partner with NYTHA and the NYTB to help promote the retraining of Thoroughbreds for second careers. This important initiative will encourage horsemen in our industry, and in the horse show world, to recognize the fulfilling possibilities that exist to provide Thoroughbreds with long and happy lives after their racing careers. The well-being of our horses is an issue at the top of the agenda for everyone in our sport.”

Jeffrey Cannizzo, executive director of NYTB, added, “We want people to know that when Thoroughbreds are finished with their careers at the racetrack, they have options other than just being turned out in a field at a farm. Two decades ago, Thoroughbreds were utilized much more in the hunter/jumper community. The incentives of the TAKE2 program should help to turn back the clock by creating a fresh demand for Thoroughbreds on the horse show circuit in New York. TAKE2 and similar programs could turn out to be an important piece in the complex puzzle of finding homes and occupations for retired racehorses.”

John Forbes, president of the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, was enthusiastic about participating in the TAKE2 program. “We applaud any effort to ensure our retired racehorses have good homes and productive second careers,” Forbes said. “This is a solid step in the right direction, and the New Jersey horsemen are excited to be a part of it. TAKE2 can bring nation-wide and industry-wide attention to the appeal of the Thoroughbreds beyond the racetrack.”

Saratoga Spring Horse Show I will run from May 2-6, 2012, with Saratoga Springs Horse Show II set for May 9-13. The Skidmore College Saratoga Classic I will be held June 12-17; Classic II is scheduled for June 20-24. All four shows will host a Low Thoroughbred Hunter Division (fences at 2'9"), offering $2,500 in total prize money. The Division will feature a $500 Under Saddle Class and two $1,000 Over Fences Classes. There will also be two Thoroughbred-only Jumper Classes at all four venues, worth $1,250 apiece. In addition, the Skidmore Saratoga Classic will offer a $2,500 Thoroughbred Hunter Classic at each of its two shows.

The Garden State Horse Show, set for May 2-6 at the Sussex County Fairgrounds in Augusta, NJ, will feature a $1,000 Thoroughbred Hunter Classic, a $4,000 Thoroughbred Jumper Classic, and a $1,000 “Thoroughbred Bonus,” to be awarded to Thoroughbreds who place in the money in one of the show’s signature events, the $5,000 Garden State Hunter Derby. The show is run by the alumni of the Junior Essex Troop, a former military riding organization, and their families.

To be eligible for the TAKE2-affiliated events, Thoroughbreds must be registered with The Jockey Club, and proof of registration is required at time of entry.  

Adele Einhorn, executive director of the Skidmore Saratoga Classic Horse Show, was the first to commit her resources to the TAKE2 program. Approached by Violette and NYRA Vice President and Director of Racing P. J. Campo last summer, she was quick to jump on board, and helped Violette present the idea at the U.S. Hunter Jumper Association’s annual convention last December.

“I’ve been involved since the get-go, and it is so exciting to help bring this to fruition,” Einhorn said. “It is a wonderful initiative that will bring Thoroughbreds back into the show ring, and help to provide second careers for these racehorses that, as we know, are made in America. 

“We are thrilled to offer $15,000 in total prize money for the Thoroughbred-only Hunter Division and the Jumper Classes,” she added. “The ultimate goal will be to encourage members of the hunter/jumper world across the country to participate. We hope this is the start of something that catches on with other USHJA horse shows.”

Tom Fueston, president of the Saratoga Springs Horse Show, stated, "This is a win/win situation for all involved. First, it is a wonderful opportunity for Thoroughbreds to be competing in the hunter/jumper classes. Second, it is a new challenge for the competitors. Third, it is a major opportunity for our horse show to premier these new and exciting classes in New York. All horse shows need a little kick to change things up, and the Thoroughbred-only division and classes will be a welcome addition to the 2012 horse show circuit.”

"We all grew up riding Thoroughbreds at the Junior Essex Troop,” said Kevin Saggese, director of sponsorship for the Garden State Horse Show. “That takes patience, perseverance, skill and understanding--great attributes for young men and women to learn in life. We are honored and excited to have been chosen as one of the premier horse shows in the country to participate in this great new program, the TAKE2 initiative."

Thoroughbreds dominate the Show Jumper Hall of Fame--15 of the sport's 20 equine inductees are members of the breed. They include superstars Idle Dice and Jet Run; Olympic medalist For The Moment, who was still winning at the age of 21; Snowbound, an unexceptional racehorse turned Olympic gold medalist; the filly Touch Of Class, who posted the first double clear rounds in Olympic history; and three-time American Grandprix Association Horse of the Year Gem Twist. The Hall of Famers have racing connections that go beyond their bloodlines; Idle Dice was partnered by Thoroughbred trainer Rodney Jenkins, Jet Run was ridden by Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Michael Matz, and Thoroughbred owner Earle Mack campaigned Touch Of Class.

But the Thoroughbred has fallen out of favor in recent years, pushed aside by European Warmbloods.

"Over the last few decades, the Thoroughbreds have been overshadowed by the European sport horses, which are very expensive, but easier to make and maintain for the clients and students of the professional riders,” Violette said. “The TAKE2 program, we hope, will go a long way toward reversing that trend."


 

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