Organizers of the Thoroughbred Makeover saw a 38 percent increase in the number of trainers who applied for the 2018 competition, now in its fourth year in its current format at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. The application period ran from Dec. 1 to Jan. 15.
The Thoroughbred Makeover is a training competition featuring recently retired racing Thoroughbreds competing in ten different disciplines. Their riders must submit an application to the Retired Racehorse Project (RRP), which organizes the competition, outlining their experience and competitive records. Trainers can be professionals, amateurs or juniors, and the Thoroughbreds they select to compete will all be of similar experience, having a maximum of ten months of retraining by the time the competition takes place Oct. 4-7.
“We continue to be astounded by the exponential growth of the Thoroughbred Makeover,” said Kirsten Green, RRP’s director of operations. “We will evaluate applications according to the criteria set forth in our rules and hope to accept as many applicants as possible, while still maintaining the quality of horsemanship. We won't rule out an additional day of competition if necessary.”
RRP’s selection committee will evaluate the applications based on 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.
Accepted trainers will be announced Feb. 1, and trainers have until Aug. 1 to select the horses they intend to compete. Many of the horses competing will also be for sale.
The group received 812 applications, representing 40 states and the District of Columbia, plus three Canadian provinces. Professionals make up 45 percent of the field of applicants; 42 percent are amateurs and 13 percent are juniors. Ninety-two trainers applied to bring two horses.
“These numbers tell us that our strategy is working,” said RRP President Steuart Pittman. “We have more good trainers using their talents to secure the futures of these horses. They are doing this without any subsidy. They are the heroes.”
In 2017, RRP accepted 578 trainers. Due to the nature of training green horses and the amount of time between the application and the competition itself, a certain number of scratches are expected. Three hundred and five horses competed at the 2017 event.
The Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium also feature clinics and educational opportunities, in addition to the Makeover Horse Sale.