Roman Silver, who in his post-racing career competes as Sterling, captured first- and second-place finishes in the TAKE2 Jumper classes at the Kentucky National Horse Show the week of Sept. 15, surging to the lead in the last event on the program's schedule to earn the TAKE2 High-Score Thoroughbred Jumper Award for 2013.
"I'm so proud of him," owner Megan Northrop said.
His stellar performances at the Kentucky National brought Sterling's point total for the year to 82. Tied for second in the TAKE2 Second Career Thoroughbred Jumper standings were Catherine Cullen's Isabella G. and Carol Traver's Incanto, who each ended the season with 50 points.
As the High-Score Thoroughbred Jumper, Sterling was awarded $1,500 in prize money, a dress sheet, and the tricolor high-score sash.
Now 8, Sterling was a solid racehorse, making 35 starts and winning seven races under his Jockey Club name, Roman Silver, by Najran. When he showed signs of slowing down, Megan's husband, veterinarian Dr. Foster Northrop, stepped in to find him a new career.
"My husband is a vet, he works primarily on racehorses at Churchill Downs and Keeneland, and at Palm Meadows in Florida in the winter, but he also cares for show horses when time allows it," Megan Northrop said. "A colleague knew about this horse–he'd done well at the track, but he started racing at lower levels. It was time to find him something else to do."
The initial plan was to sell him as a show horse prospect. There were no takers, so he joined the small Northrop string.
"My background is three-day eventing, so I've re-schooled Thoroughbreds almost all of my riding career," Northrop said. "Now that I'm married and have three small children, I concentrate on getting them started off the track, and finding the discipline that best suits them, whether it's fox hunting or eventing or jumping. I work with a couple of young horses at a time on our farm (outside of Louisville, Ky.), and I really enjoy it."
Sterling adapted easily to the change in lifestyle.
"He needed a little time off, so we turned him out and gave him a chance to just be a horse, then started light work with him," Northrop said. "He didn't go into full training until just this past winter, but he needed to be back at work. Thoroughbreds really like to have a job."
The horsewoman did the groundwork before reaching out to trainer Debbie Stephens for help.
"His training has been a joint effort," Northrop said. "He comes home with me and I keep him schooled when Debbie is busy at the horse shows in Lexington. But Debbie shows him, and she has been so generous with her time and her talent. She has put so much into him.
"This is the third Thoroughbred I've brought to her, and she has been amazing with each one. I can't thank her enough."
The TAKE2 Second Career Thoroughbred Program, created by the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, New York Racing Association, and New York Thoroughbred Breeders, offered Sterling the perfect venue for showing off his new skills. In its second year, TAKE2 was expanded from eight shows in three states in 2012 to more than 50 shows in 18 states for 2013.
The classes are designed as a launching pad for retired racehorses just getting started in the show ring.
"I'm thrilled about TAKE2," Northrop said. "It's wonderful that someone took the time and effort to get Thoroughbred classes back into the A-level show circuit. TAKE2 has taken the reins to promote the return of the Thoroughbred to the show ring at this level. I hope more people will see that Thoroughbreds can do this, and that you can make a little money and have a good time with them."