The Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover brings together hundreds of OTTBs and trainers from across the county to show off skills learned in just a handful of months off the track. This year’s event had more entries than ever, and after scratches over 420 horses competed in 12 different disciplines. This event continues to grow and expand to increase the demand for OTTBs each year and I was thrilled to have aftercare in California represented again this year.
I’ve attended the RRP for the past three years in a row with local rescue Neigh Savers Foundation through my job working at Golden Gate Fields. Some of you may not now this about me, but I’ve been working to rescue racehorses for closing in on a decade now. Longer than I have done almost anything else in my life. As the official Aftercare Liaison at Golden Gate Fields I work with dozens of organizations to ensure that the horses find safe homes after they are done racing. This happens now a lot more than it used to thanks to the vast efforts of thousands of people across the United States taking action and making changes (though the occasional horse does still fall through the cracks, so we must keep working).
For three years in a row I’ve gone with Neigh Savers, but also representing CARMA. CARMA is a fund account in California that both grants to non profits and runs their Placement Program. This program takes both sound and injured horses from Northern and Southern California tracks and ensures placement with accredited aftercare organizations so the horses can move on to productive lives as riding horses or permanent retirement. To learn more about the CARMA Placement Program you can visit www.carma4horses.org. It is an excellent program that has made a real big difference in aftercare in California.
This year we went with a horse named Sassy Ashley. Sassy Ashley raced 15 times in Southern California and was taken into CARMA last fall after escaping the fire at San Luis Rey. After Neigh Savers acquired her as an RRP prospect over the winter, she was sent to local trainer Kalley Krickeberg. Kalley had 7 months with Ashley to retrain her for both Ranch Work and Polo to compete in Kentucky. Sassy Ashley is a bit of an anomaly because 1. She’s an impeccably bred mare (Calumet bred by English Channel out of an AP Indy mare) so it’s amazing she didn’t get sold as a broodmare. 2. She was sound upon retiring from the track (most horses coming into CARMA need some sort of rehab). We knew going in this year we had a good one with a good shot at making some noise.
While Sassy Ashley didn’t win (she did ribbon in Polo and came very close to being in the ribbons in Ranch Work), she and all of the others competing showed off exactly what these horses can do with some time and retraining (which is a lot!). From polo, to show jumping, to fox hunting and even barrel racing, these horses showed off diverse skill sets and talents. It is fantastic to go to this event each year and represent racing and thoroughbred aftercare in Northern California and see what these horses can do with a little training!
Each year I’m further impressed with the trainers that bring these horses, and the horses themselves. There is a lot of time that goes into those 42o horses to get them ready for an event like this…and none of that time was wasted. Shows like RRP and other Thoroughbred shows around the country continue increasing the demand for the breed and give them opportunities for productive lives after racing.
Also featured, the adorable babies and mares from Rosecrest Farm. Would give my left arm to stay here again! What an amazing Bed and Breakfast! Highly recommended!