by Jen Roytz
This weekend New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program and The Jockey Club Thoroughbred Incentive Program (T.I.P.) welcomed more than 250 Thoroughbreds (not all raced) to the Kentucky Horse Park, allowing their riders to compete in one of the most coveted venues in equestrian sports – the Rolex Stadium (it’s the Johnson Arena actually) at the Kentucky Horse Park.
With horses coming from as far away as New Mexico (many who are not yet seasoned show competitors) and a small but mighty horse show crew made up of New Vocations and Jockey Club employees and volunteers (rather than the larger paid horse show crews that usually put on national shows at the Park), it could have been a recipe for disaster.
Instead, it was a weekend filled with camaraderie, friendly competition and a coming together of so many people from various locations and walks of life who found a common bond in their love of Thoroughbreds.
The first horse to ship in came from all the way from New Mexico; he arrived at the Park on Tuesday night. The moment we got to welcome his owner as she walked her horse around the grounds was the truly ‘oh wow, this is REAL’ moment. To know that someone had come all the way across the country to compete at this show—it was truly amazing. She was just smiling away, going on about how happy she was to be there.
And truly, that was the vibe that permeated the entire event: thankfulness. Thankful to get to be at the Park, thankful to show off their Thoroughbred, thankful to meet new friends. We truly could not have asked for anything more for the first year of this format of competition.
The list of equine competitors ran the gamut from regally-bred horses like Street Call (by Street Cry-IRE), American Bond (by Tapit) and Lawmaker (by Malibu Moon); and top earners Twilight Eclipse (Grade 1 winner of $2.1 million), Nutello (French stakes winner) and Ibboyee (2YO Champion in New York in 1999 and winner of 6 stakes races) to many Thoroughbreds who, while never finding their way to the headlines (or some even to the winner’s circle), found their calling as hunters, jumpers and trusted partners for their riders.In addition to traditional classes offered at hunter/jumper shows, such as a Hunter Derby and Jumper Stake, there were special classes catering to the very unique crowd, such as the “Fresh OTTB, a class limited to horses who had raced in 2017, and the “War Horse” classes, which were reserved for horses who had either made 50 or more starts or won over $100,000.
”This show would not have been the success it was without the hard work and dedication of KristinLeshney, senior counsel for The Jockey Club and the administrator of T.I.P,” says Sarah Coleman, director of education and development at New Vocations. “Kristin has been a dear friend of mine for years and I am lucky enough to get to host this show with her every year. This year, the true oh-my-gosh-my-heart-is-exploding moment for each of us came when the Thoroughbreds walked down the ramp to be recognized in the Thoroughbred Recognition Ceremony. To see that many Thoroughbreds in the Rolex at one time—breathtaking. That’s truly the only word for it. Kristin and I just looked at each other and couldn’t stop laughing!”
Now in its third year, the New Vocations All-Thoroughbred Charity Horse Show has earned its place as many competitors’ favorite show of the year. It could be because they get to compete in a venue known for showcasing the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games and the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event (and the top Olympic-level riders who come to competitions of that caliber). It could also be because of the little touches Coleman and her team put on the show that make it special.
For example, from the time competitors arrive to set up their stables to after they’ve competed in their final class, the show’s “Welcome Wagon” can be seen driving through the stabling area and show grounds, handing out carrots and bottled water, and asking if they can answer questions or help the exhibitors in any way.
All competitors are also invited to take part in the “I Love My Ex …” Thoroughbred Recognition Ceremony, which honors not only each horse’s accomplishment in successfully transitioning from racing to showing, but also celebrates the Thoroughbred breed, paying homage to each competitor for playing such a significant role in showing the world just how much racehorses have to give long after they’ve left the track.
We are so happy with how this year’s competition turned out; we look forward to making it bigger and better in 2018!
Included in the weekend’s success stories were the following winners:
Oldest Thoroughbred Competing – Rat Pack (by Midway Circle; 28-years-old)
Youngest Thoroughbred Competing – One Last Rose (by Get Stormy; 3-years-old)
Most Recently Raced – Fading Away (by El Medwar; last raced on July 8, 2017)
Most Money Earned – Twilight Eclipse (by Purim; $2,103,953 in earnings)
Most Lifetime Starts – Military Legend (by Military; 87 starts)
Highest Price at Public Auction – Ya Gotta Have Soul (by Perfect Soul (IRE); sold for $775,000 as a yearling)
War Horse In-Hand – Crushing (by Giacomo) with Georgia Keogh
$2,500 Junior/Adult Amateur Jumper Stake Champion – Valkyrie with Josie Butterfield
Junior/Adult Amateur Jumper Stake Reserve Champion – Power Play (by Philanthropist) with Lauren Satchell
$5,000 Open Jumper Stake Champion – Satins Angel with Alexa Lee
Open Jumper Stake Reserve Champion – Equal Danger with Marsha Swan
War Horse English Pleasure Walk/Trot – A Lady Called Max (by Domestic Dispute) and Daunine Hoenemier
War Horse English Pleasure Walk/Trot/Canter – Saturday at Ten (by Go For Gin) and Jodi Wanenmacher
Open Hunter Derby Champion – Felton (by Lion Heartedd) with Susan Sisco
Open Hunter Derby Reserve Champion – Pink Magic (by Strait Man) with Meg McTiver
Junior/Adult Amateur Hunter Derby Champion – Irascibull (by Holy Bull) with Jenna Drago
Junior/Adult Amateur Hunter Derby Reserve Champion – Lia’s Wish (by Wheelaway) with Healther Steele
To be added to the mailing list for future New Vocations horse shows, contact Sarah Coleman at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jen Roytz is a marketing, publicity and comprehensive communications specialist based in Lexington, Kentucky. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, her professional focus lies in the fields of equine, health care, corporate and non-profit marketing. She holds board affiliations with the Make a Wish Foundation, Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance and the Retired Racehorse Project, among others. While she currently has no plans to build an arc, she is the go-to food source for two dogs, two cats and two off-track Thoroughbreds.
Email Jen your story ideas at Jenlroytz@gmail.com or connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.