The Thoroughbred Makeover & National Symposium

Hundreds of off-track Thoroughbreds, each with 10 months or less of retraining. Three days of competition in 10 different disciplines, vying for a share of $100,000 in prize money. Thousands of spectators watching online and in person. And at the end, one overall winner, crowned America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred.

Now in its fourth year in its current format and location, the 2018 Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium, presented by Thoroughbred Charities of America, will take place Oct. 4-7 at the Kentucky Horse Park.

What is the Thoroughbred Makeover?

The Retired Racehorse Project, a 501(c)3 charitable organization, created the Thoroughbred Makeover to showcase the trainability and talent of off-track Thoroughbreds. The competition is intended to inspire good trainers to become involved in transitioning these horses to second careers, and the National Symposium serves to educate the people involved in the care, training, and sale of these horses to responsible owners.

This is the only national gathering of the organizations, trainers, and farms dedicated to serving these horses when they retire from racing. 

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Who can participate?

The Makeover isn’t an ordinary horse show; it’s a training competition. Trainers interested in participating must submit an application to the RRP Makeover Selection Committee for approval, to ensure that all participants are capable of effectively restarting an off-track Thoroughbred and demonstrating its talent and trainability. Participants do not need to be professional trainers, however — juniors and amateurs are welcome.

Trainer applications closed on Jan. 15 with a record 812 applications! Accepted trainers will be announced Feb. 1.

When evaluating applicants, the selection committee took into consideration the need for adequate representation within each discipline; the need for representation by professionals, amateurs, and juniors; geographic diversity; affiliation with institutions that are committed RRP’s mission; and evidence that the trainer is committed RRP’s mission.

Trainers may compete up to two horses apiece, but do not need to have obtained the horse they intend to compete at the time of application.

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What horses are eligible to compete?

Because the Makeover is a training competition designed to evaluate a horse’s progress in a prescribed period of time, we set eligibility requirements to ensure that all horses are of similar experience at the starting point. Horses must meet these requirements to be eligible:

  • Registered with The Jockey Club and have a lip tattoo or microchip.
  • Raced or had a published work on or after July 1, 2016.
  • Not have started in training for a second career before December 1, 2017 (other than a maximum of 15 allowable rides).

The deadline for accepted trainers to register their horses for the competition is Aug. 1, 2018.

RRP has a strictly enforced Horse Welfare Policy in effect at the competition, which covers horse protection, abuse and neglect, soundness, and body condition. Trainers agree to adhere to the United States Equestrian Federation’s Guidelines for Drugs and Medication, and random testing will take place.

How is the competition structured?

Ten competitive disciplines are offered at the Makeover: barrels, competitive trail, dressage, eventing, field hunters, polo, ranch work, show hunters, show jumpers, and freestyle (a free-form division to demonstrate skills of the trainer’s choice). A horse may be entered in up to two disciplines.

Preliminary rounds take place on Thursday and Friday. (To see the specific tests required in each discipline, click here.) Each competitor receives a preliminary round score, and the top five in each discipline advance to the Finale, which takes place on Saturday in the Covered Arena and is broadcast via livestream.

Each discipline competes separately in Finale, and each has their own final test to determine the Makeover Champion in that discipline. The crowd favorite (determined by text message voting) from among the 10 discipline winners is then crowned America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred and earns a $10,000 check!

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What does the National Symposium include?

We offer several educational seminars and panel discussions dedicated to the care, training, and marketing of off-track Thoroughbreds. On Sunday, after the competition has concluded, we also offer several mounted clinics that are open to Makeover competitors and are free to audit.

An extensive vendor fair also runs concurrent with the competition.

What is the Makeover Horse Sale?

Many Makeover trainers take on off-track Thoroughbreds as resale projects, and the Makeover provides a unique opportunity for horse-shoppers to see dozens of OTTBs successfully competing in a second career, and all in one location.

RRP has endeavored to help market and facilitate the private sale of these horses by highlighting them at the competition — they wear special bridle numbers, are advertised on our website, and a printed sale catalogue is available to spectators. Designated areas are available for shoppers to try sale horses, and local veterinarians are on stand-by and available to perform pre-purchase exams on site.

About one-third of the horses competing in 2017 were available for sale. All sale contracts are private but are required to include no-slaughter and notification of resale restrictions.

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Fast facts about the 2017 Thoroughbred Makeover:

  • 578 trainers were accepted to compete during the initial application process, and 509 horses were registered.
  • 305 horses actually made it to Kentucky to compete, coming from 38 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces.
  • The most-raced horse in the competition had 85 starts. The highest money-earner had career winnings of almost $1.2 million.
  • Total number of horses in each discipline: barrels, 18; competitive trail, 64; dressage, 78; eventing, 90; field hunter, 30; freestyle, 38; polo, 11; show hunter, 84; show jumper, 75; working ranch, 12.
  • 100 horses were entered in the Makeover Sale, and 22 were confirmed sold within a month of the competition. The high price was $21,000; average price was $8,800.
  • More than 115 volunteers helped staff the competition.
  • 72 companies were Makeover sponsors.
  • 71 vendors took part in the vendor fair.
  • Over 1200 ticketed spectators watched the Finale.
  • The Finale livestream had more than 7,200 viewers, and 62,000 viewers watched on Facebook Live.
  • 899 votes were cast for America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred.

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Building Bridges to Second Careers...Increasing Demand for Thoroughbreds

info@retiredracehorseproject.org
(410) 798-5140

Mailing Address:
2976 Solomon's Island Road, Edgewater, MD 21037

 Retired Racehorse Project is a 501(c)3 charitable organization.

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