Betty McCue, an elementary teacher with a passion for retraining Thoroughbreds, founded the Balitmore County-based EHM Stables with her sister Evelyn Martin in order to give Thoroughbreds new lives after retiring from the race track.
On July 13, the second annual Totally Thoroughbred Horse Show will take place in the infield at Pimlico Race Course, and EHM Stables will be represented by 12 horses and 10 riders.
The event will begin at 9 a.m. and feature eight classes with six ribbons awarded for each class. Nearly $10,000 in prize money will be paid to the owners of the first three finishers in each class (60%-winner, 30%-second place, 10%-third).
Part of the Thoroughbred Alliance Show Series, the event is one of a handful of shows for Thoroughbreds where each horse shows under its Jockey Club name. Traditional show horses often have their names altered when they change owners or circuits.
"There is a need for someone to help work with them," said McCue, the wife of Maryland Jockey Club photographer Jim McCue. "That is why we started with lessons and we have grown to have some wonderful riders and students who love Thoroughbreds."
Among the horses McCue will be bringing to Pimlico are Baltimore Raven, Cayman Condo, Powered by Love, Prideland, Oregon Ridge, and Saratoga Jet.
"We show almost every weekend during the summer but this event is more meaningful to me personally," added McCue. "Bringing the Thoroughbreds to the all-Thoroughbred show is really exciting."
"She is psyched," said Maryland Jockey Club director of racing Georganne Hale, who came up with the idea of the event along with Stacie Clark-Rogers, manager of the Adena Springs Retirement program. "(Betty) looks forward to (summer) so she can devote all her energy to the horses and kids."
One of McCue's top students is Anastasia Vialov, a 15-year-old sophomore at Dulaney High School, who would like to eventually become an equine vet.
Vialov will ride Prideland in multiple events next weekend. The son of Lion Hearted was a winner of six races for nearly $160,000 during his 24-race career, which included a third-place finish in the Maryland Juvenile Championship at Pimlico in 2004.
"In 2008 Hugh McMahon was an assistant to Scott Lake and called me to say they had a horse (Outcashem) to give us," Vialov said. "I walked by Prideland's stall and wanted him, too, so Hugh called owner Robert Cole, who said 'sure.' Prideland won a lot but was going down the ladder in his racing career. It took him awhile to wind down and relax. We gave him a year without touching him. He has come back to be wonderful...he is the dearest, kindest, most-honest horse."
This is not the first time this year that McCue's crew has been heavily involved in an event at Pimlico. During Preakness week, they were part of the Sunrise at Old Hilltop Tour, a free, behind-the-scenes look at racing.
"We were the last stop on the tour because we are the last stop for Thoroughbreds after their racing career," Vialov said. "It was really cool being able to educate people on what happens to them because most people don't know what happens. Most think they go to a farm in Kentucky and lead a happy life. We told them that is not always the case. They can end up at a slaughter house. Our goal is to stop that and give them a happy life after racing."
The inaugural Totally Thoroughbred Horse Show featured nearly 800 entries and raised $16,500 for the official charitable beneficiaries.