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Breeders' Cup 2017

HRN Original Blog:
Past the Grandstand

Remember Me Rescue's Fundraiser for OTTBs

The words majestic, fierce, and athletic are among the words that spring into one’s mind when trying to describe the Thoroughbred racehorse. Not skin and bones, malnourished, ill, and near-death. But when Donna Keen, founder of Remember Me Rescue, looked at the scene before her on a ranch in San Marcos, Texas in the fall of 2012, she saw an abundance of Thoroughbreds that fit the latter description.

Nine of these horses were transported to Remember Me Rescue about three hours away, where they were nursed back to health. While these horses stayed at Remember Me, Keen formed the idea of a training challenge for off-the-track Thoroughbreds, an idea inspired partially by the Extreme Mustang Makeover. And so it all began.

The idea blossomed into a huge planning process for an event that is now creating great waves of anticipation and excitement. With Remember Me’s development of an all-Thoroughbred horse show in the spring of 2013 already in the works, the training challenge was added to the horse show plans with the name “Battle of the X’s, OTTB Trainer Challenge.” On April 27, Remember Me Rescue will host the all-Thoroughbred horse show, followed by the training challenge, at Will Rogers Memorial Center in Fort Worth, Texas – one of the most historic multi-purpose venues in the state of Texas.


"This show will play a major role in promoting the versatility of the Thoroughbred,” Keen is quoted as saying on Remember Me’s website. “I am very excited to be a part in showcasing retired racehorses and [showing] everyone just how special these athletes are and what a role they can play in the show ring."

The night prior to the horse show and training challenge (Friday, April 26), a gala will be held at Lone Star Park, serving as not only a night that will certainly be teeming with fun, but also as a significant fundraiser for the rescue. In what is considered a celebrity dinner, attendees will have the opportunity to meet and mingle with some of racing’s best: owner Maggi Moss will take the role as keynote speaker for the night, attendees will have the opportunity to speak with Hall of Fame jockey Julie Krone and receive her autograph, Liza G. Fly – famous for her song “Zenyatta” – will provide live music, and Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg will be the auctioneer for the live auction. In addition, the gala will include an open bar and all-you-can-eat buffet, as well as a silent auction. Auction items consist of a racing saddle autographed by a plethora of Hall of Fame jockeys, a guitar signed by a wealth of country music stars, a Grey Goose bottle featuring the autographs of many big names in racing, and several other exciting items. While enjoying festivities, guests will also be able to watch live racing. Individual tickets are $95 and tables of eight are available for $700. For information on purchasing tickets, please click here.

Bright and early the next morning, participants will flock to Will Rogers Memorial Center, approximately thirty minutes west of Lone Star Park, for Remember Me’s first All-Thoroughbred Horse Show. Offering a wide variety of classes for Thoroughbreds, exhibitors and horses of different skill levels will be able to showcase their talents. Although classes include a leadline class, Western and English pleasure classes, and several jumping and hunter classes, perhaps the most notable class of the day is the “companion only” class.

“The companion class will showcase the unrideable retired racehorse as a family friendly horse,” Remember Me’s website states. “All old injuries, soundness issues, and conformation will be 'overlooked' and the horse will be judged on his appearance, his manners, and the handler’s showmanship. We will be offering a special prize for the winner of the companion class and hope everyone with a special retired racehorse will join us for the show. We hope other Thoroughbred shows [will] recognize these special people who take these otherwise unwanted horses into their families and will begin to hold their own companion classes around the country.”

Later in the day on April 27, after the horse show, pairs of trainers and Thoroughbreds will enter the Will Rogers Coliseum to compete for $10,000 in prize money for Battle of the X’s, The OTTB Trainer Challenge. These trainer and horse combinations were drawn in November of 2012, allowing the trainers to spend several months prior to the challenge with the challenge horses – all ex-racehorses – and train them in their discipline of choice. Following the challenge and the granting of prizes, these horses will be auctioned off to pre-approved buyers, with proceeds going towards Remember Me’s fund for an Intensive Care Unit to be constructed at the rescue facility.

“The auctioning off of the ‘Battle horses’ will be a great opportunity for people,” Keen said. “Some of these horses have already won jumping classes and have shown talent in the show ring. Buyers can purchase a horse that has spent several months with a professional trainer that has the potential to become a big horse.”

Though ten horses were originally drawn for the training challenge, two may not compete due to injuries, though they will be present at the challenge and will be offered for sale in the auction. But the additional eight ex-racehorses have flourished with their new trainers, including Western Escape – who was the Champion Open 2.0' Hunter at the NTHJC Benefit Show at the Tyler Rose Horse Park in March – and Future Covenant – a former stakes-placed son of Wildcat Heir that has eagerly taken to cow and ranch work.


















Future Covenant training for the challenge


“The Battle of X’s will show what off-the-track Thoroughbreds can do, what they’re capable of,” Keen said. “Anyone will see just how smart and re-trainable they are, even after just four months. It will be great.”

For more information on this great event, please visit its website here and keep up with its Facebook here.


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About Mary Cage


Mary with champion Classic Empire

Mary Cage, a 21-year-old avid fan of horse racing, has been around horses all her life, having owned, shown, and judged them for as long as she can remember. She began writing her own horse racing blog, Past the Grandstand, in August 2011 and has since been published in America's Horse, American Racehorse and the Appaloosa Journal, as well as with the websites of The Blood-Horse and The Equine Chronicle. She has also had photos published with Paulick Report and Thoroughbred Daily News. In addition, she works as one of the social media coordinators for the Texas Thoroughbred Association and has interned at WinStar Farm with a marketing focus - with projects involving photography, videography, giving tours, data entry, etc. 

In her personal horse experience, Mary has been around horses all her life and has won several Appaloosa National Champion and Reserve World Champion titles in the show ring. She has also worked as a hotwalker and groom.

Mary has always aspired to have a career with horses and since her love for horse racing began, she has dreamed of pursuing a career in the Thoroughbred racing industry, possibly as a writer/photographer and marketing/communications specialist. She is currently attending the University of North Texas, where she is a journalism major with a concentration in advertising and a minor in marketing. With this blog, she hopes to show readers horse racing through the eyes of a young fan and transport you to some of racing's biggest events through her photos and words.

University of Louisville College of Business Equine Program

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