Organizers of the TCA Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium, held at the Kentucky Horse Park Oct. 23-25, called the event a success.
The event, part of the Retired Racehorse Project, is designed to expose people to Thoroughbred aftercare and put on display former racehorses that now participate in disciplines other than racing.
Soar, owned and ridden by Ontario, Canada-based trainer Lindsay Partridge, took top honors as "America's Most Wanted Thoroughbred" and the winner's share of the $100,000 in prize money. Soar competed in the competitive trail and freestyle divisions at the horse park.
An 8-year-old mare by Trajectory out of the Mt. Livermore mare Pyrenee, Soar was bred in Ontario and sold as yearling for $32,795. She went on to win nine times and most competed in lower-level claiming events.
Partridge, who has built much of her professional training career out of finding retired racehorses, training them in the discipline she feels suits them best, and selling them to riders looking for dependable show or recreational mounts, found Soar via a picture on Facebook.
"I heard about the Thoroughbred Makeover and wanted to find a horse to compete in it with because I thought it sounded like a really fun way to promote the Thoroughbred breed," Partridge said. "I liked the look of (Soar), so I contacted the seller and bought her. I'm actually a jumper rider at heart, but I wanted to show off my horses' best attributes."
Godolphin Stable brought a contingent of 20 Thoroughbred aftercare and welfare professionals from Australia, England, France, Ireland, Japan, and the United States to Lexington for the competition and symposium.
"What a huge showing of Thoroughbreds performing in so many different disciplines this weekend, from the tight turns of the polo, barrel and ranch horses, the scope of the show and field hunters, jumpers and eventers, the gracefulness of the dressage horses, bravery of trail horses, and just the trainability of the freestyle competitors," Retired Racehorse Project president Steuart Pittman said. "This weekend was a coming together of people from so many segments of the horse business with interests in the Thoroughbred.
"It was a celebration of the breed, but it also did a lot to create synergy between the racing and sport horse communities, which is the goal of the Retired Racehorse Project."
The event, which began in Maryland, was held in Kentucky for the first time.
Organizers said some of the Thoroughbreds on the grounds for the event changed hands as part of a marketplace program. On Oct. 23-24, horses were paraded in front of prospective buyers and ridden in small groups for the audience as their pedigree, skills and selling attributes were discussed by an announcer.