from a Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation release

Colonial Downs and the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF) at James River are joining together to host the first-ever “Mr. TRF” Second Chances Stakes, a competition of ex-racehorses on Ladies Night, June 29 at Colonial Downs.  Open to the public, on-line voting will take place Thursday, June 20 through Friday, June 28 and conclude Saturday, June 29 with trackside voting on the top three fan favorites to find which horse will hoof-it into the Winner’s Circle to be named Barn 4’s “Mr. TRF.”  Fans can cast their votes at

Celebrating second chances for horses and men, the competition showcases nine geldings from TRF’s 27-horse herd and highlights each equine mrtrf-wreathcompetitor’s racing record, personality and relationship with their caretakers at the James River Work Center, a Virginia correctional facility located in Goochland County.

“The ‘Mr. TRF’ Second Chances Stakes is about winning the hearts and minds of people who love Thoroughbreds, on and off the track,” said Anne Tucker, President of TRF at James River and Thoroughbred owner and breeder.  “Contributing a vote or making a donation to the stakes purse is a way for people to raise their hand and say ‘I believe in second chances’ for horses and men.”

Covert Action, a grandson of Secretariat at TRF James River, will serve as “celebrity host” and make several trackside appearances along with the competition’s three finalists before the final vote by racing fans.  This year marks the 40th anniversary of Secretariat winning racing’s most coveted prize, the Triple Crown, by sweeping the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes.  Secretariat is one of only 11 horses to ever accomplish that feat.

“Women are the fastest growing fan base of Thoroughbred racing, and our ‘Mr. TRF’ Second Chances Stakes for Ladies Night is a fun, engaging feature that creates excitement at the track,” said Ian Stewart, President, Colonial Downs.  “But we are encouraging all of our fans to get on-line to vote and to join us for the event.   Thoroughbred aftercare is important, and we’re celebrating the success of TRF’s Second Chances program.  Our hope is that many people will be inspired to donate to the stakes purse and the TRF herd.”

The size of the “stakes purse” will be determined by the amount of money raised through on-line and trackside donations to support the TRF herd, and all of TRF’s horses – mares included — will share in the take.

Covert Action will also spearhead additional purse-raising activities at the event including purchasing “Mr. TRF Second Chances Stakes” 50/50 split tickets; hosting a silent auction of saddlecloths worn by competitors in the Buckland Stakes; and, selling Macy’s Shopping Passes and TRF “I Believe in Second Chances” t-shirts.

The TRF James River “Second Chances” program is one of 10 TRF correctional facility-based programs in the U.S. that exchanges herd care for vocational training for non-violent offenders.

The expense of caring for one horse at TRF James River is approximately $2,500 per year.  Since its establishment in 2007, TRF at James River has been a sanctuary for 56 horses, 29 of which have been successfully rehabilitated, retrained and adopted out as performance and pleasure horses, or pasture companions.  More than 50 men have participated in TRF’s Groom Elite ( and stable management vocational training and certification program, and several men post-release have gone on to build careers as farriers and stable management personnel.

You can donate to the stakes purse to support the TRF herd at The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.

(Featured photo is of inmates receiving farrier training.)