The Retired Racehorse Training Project is a charitable organization working to increase demand for Thoroughbred ex-racehorses.
In 2012 the organization launched it’s “Trainer Challenge” where three OTTB received 100 days of training by three accomplished trainers.
The trainers worked with horses who had no training other than racing for five weeks. They selected and rode their horses for the first time at the Maryland Horse World Expo in January and then posted videos of their training techniques and progress. Their online videos of the process were viewed 50,000 times.
Followers voted in the final three days for the trainer who impressed them most, and three judges were given 100 votes each to award after their final presentation. The judges were Olympian James Wofford, CANTER Mid-Atlantic founder Allie Conrad, and Alex Brown, author of Greatness and Goodness: Barbaro and His Legacy. Last year’s winner of the best trainer title was Erik Dierks of Tyron, NC, riding Brazilian Wedding.
But the real winners were OTTBs. The Trainer challenge helped bring the plight of retiring racehorses to the attention of the public in an amazingly constructive way. Although most of us are not going to be able to achieve the same results as professional trainers did in just 100 days, the videos and interviews with the trainers give us a roadmap to help re-educate retired racehorses and train them for new careers.
In the video below you can see Dierk’s last training ride on Brazilian Wedding but check out the RRTP’s YouTube Channel for many more videos.
Meet the Players in the 2013 Challenge
The 2013 challenge features four horses which had a range of race experience:
Declan’s Moon is a 2002 gelding who was on a path to race in the Triple Crown. He won the Eclipse Award as an undefeated two year old and his first race as a three year old. Unfortunately, an injury took him off the Triple Crown trail but he recovered to race again and won more than $700,00 in 18 starts before retiring.
Gunport a three year old gray filly who had no desire to race. Although she completed her racing training, she raced only once.
Suave Jazz is a nine year old gelding who ran 70 races and won $651,000. He retired just this past August.
Alluring Punch is a three year old gelding who earned $12,000 in ten starts.
Follow along with the Trainers
Having just started my own Retired Racehorse Training Project two weeks ago, I’m planning to follow along with the progress of the four horses — although I doubt that I’ll enjoy the same rapid progress as the pros are able to accomplish. It’s been a few years since I’ve restarted an OTTB and I’ll be grateful for the tips!