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Registered Thoroughbreds that compete on the New York Eventing circuit this season will be recognized by a new $30,000 award program sponsored by the New York Racing Association and the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association.
In an effort to promote Eventing as a second career for Thoroughbreds, many of which come off the racetrack, the two groups have committed prize money and gifts to first and second place finishers in every level at each of the 10 upcoming New York horse trials. The season kicks off June 10 with the Genesee Valley Riding and Driving Club Horse Trial in Geneseo, N.Y., and concludes in August with the New York Second Career Thoroughbred Circuit’s Grand Finale at the Millbrook Horse Trials, the largest horse trial in the state.
The initiative, which has been named “Career2,” honors the role the thoroughbred plays in Eventing. Since 2000, nearly 15,000 thoroughbreds have been registered with the U.S. Eventing Association, and roughly a third of Eventers ride thoroughbreds in competition from Beginner-Novice level through Advanced. No other equestrian sport has such a large percentage of Thoroughbreds.
“We are absolutely thrilled that these two important racing organizations are recognizing the wonderful opportunities that exist in Eventing for Thoroughbreds, including those coming off the track,” said USEA Chief Executive Jo Whitehouse. “Retraining these former racehorses for a second career in Eventing is a natural and logical fit for them.”
Virtually all of the 25,000 Thoroughbred foals born each year across the United States were bred with the intention of racing. While many make it to the track, very few go on to successful racing careers. Trainers may decide not to race some Thoroughbreds, while others may be raced only a few times before they are retired.
Given that so many Thoroughbreds are in need of second careers, this sponsorship will introduce horsemen involved in racing, to the retraining opportunities afforded in the Eventing world. “Eventing perfectly showcases the versatility, quick mind, athleticism and stamina that are the hallmarks of the breed,” said Rick Violette, president of NYTHA and NYRA board member.
Second-career Thoroughbreds have enjoyed extraordinary success as Eventers. The 2011 USEF International Horse of the Year, Neville Bardos, is an Australian Thoroughbred who had no success on the track but who is working toward a berth on the U.S. Eventing team for the upcoming Olympic Games in London this summer. Further adding to his dramatic story, the 13-year-old survived a devastating fire last year at Boyd Martin’s barn.
Courageous Comet (Comet Shine--Rosinelli) is a second-career Thoroughbred that was purchased in New York and has enjoyed success at the highest level of Eventing, competing in the 2008 Olympics and the World Equestrian Games in 2010.
And who can forget the great Out and About (Lamour Rullah--Incarnadine) who in his second career as an event horse won the individual bronze medal at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta with his owner and rider Kerry Millikin of Pine Plains, New York.
Not only advanced riders have given these horses a chance at a new life. “The majority of second career Thoroughbreds are ridden at the lower levels of Eventing,” said international event rider Louise Meryman, co-director of Career2 and president of the Millbrook Horse Trials. “Thoroughbreds have an excellent work ethic. They love having a job, and they have the mental and physical ability to excel at the multiple disciplines that make up Eventing.”
Most importantly, “these horses have long and useful lives ahead of them. It’s inspiring that so many Eventers have stepped forward and made sure that they remain productive, cared for and happy,” she said.
By the time they are three or four, most Thoroughbreds have finished their racing careers. “At this age, other breeds are only beginning to be put in work,” Meryman said. “But a Thoroughbred at this age is already well ahead of the game, having been handled, ridden, shod and trailered.”
Under Career2, the highest scoring Thoroughbred in each level will receive $300, with $100 going to the second-place finisher. The Jockey Club’s TIP program is contributing $100 to the first-place prize money and a saddle pad. Ribbons will be pinned for places 1-6.
In addition, NYRA and NYTHA will fund $6,000 in prize money for the Career 2 New York Circuit Grand Finale at the Millbrook Horse Trials. The highest scoring Thoroughbred in each level will receive $700, with $300 going to the runner-up. Ribbons will be pinned for places 1-6.
“The USEA offers our thanks and appreciation to NYRA, NYTHA, Louise Meryman and her Career 2 co-chair Beth Ledy, for working so hard to establish this important program,” Whitehouse said.
To participate in Career2, Thoroughbreds need only to be registered; they are not required to have raced. For information on how to participate, go to Career 2.
The 2012 New York Eventing Circuit includes:
June 10 – Genesee Valley Riding & Driving Club, Geneseo, NY
June 17 – Larkin Hill Horse Trials, North Chatham, NY
June 23 – Great Vista Horse Trials, Fort Plain, NY
July 7-8 – Genesee Valley Hunt Horse Trials, Geneseo, NY
July 8 – ENYDCTA/Old Chatham Horse Trials, Old Chatham, NY
July 12-15 – Cosequin Stuart Horse Trials, Victor, NY
July 21-22 – Fitch’s Corner Horse Trials, Millbrook, NY
Aug. 2-5 – Millbrook Horse Trials, Millbrook, NY
Aug. 19 – Great Vista Horse Trials, Fort Plain, NY (start of 2013 circuit)
Aug. 25-26 – Genesee Valley Riding & Driving Club, Geneseo, NY (start of 2013 circuit)
NYRA was founded in 1955 and is franchised to run Thoroughbred racing at New York’s three major racetracks. Last year more than 1.8 million people attended live races at the NYRA tracks.
NYTHA has represented the interests of Thoroughbred owners and trainers at NYRA tracks for more than 50 years. The group also seeks to increase the effectiveness of its constituents in the day-to-day activities of racing as well as to gain public recognition of horseracing as a vital form of entertainment, deserving support, protection and preservation.