Thoroughbred Makeover accepts record 794 trainers

by | Feb 1, 2018 | Breaking, Business, National news

From a Retired Racehorse Project release

The Retired Racehorse Project (RRP) announced today that a record 794 trainers have been accepted to compete for their share of $100,000 in prize money at the 2018 Thoroughbred Makeover, presented by Thoroughbred Charities of America and held Oct. 4-7 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY. This is a 37 percent increase from the 578 trainers accepted in 2017.

Today also marks the launch of, a brand-new website dedicated exclusively to the Thoroughbred Makeover, and separate from RRP’s organization website. Accepted trainers can now manage their entries at, and may begin registering the horses they intend to compete.

The application process for the 2018 Thoroughbred Makeover required trainers to demonstrate their skills and expertise through competition results, videos, and references. RRP’s selection committee evaluated candidates based on their ability to effectively retrain an off-track Thoroughbred, as well as their commitment to RRP’s mission of promoting off-track Thoroughbreds for second careers.

“The feedback on applicants from the selection committee was overwhelmingly positive, and we’re thrilled to welcome another class of quality trainers to this special community we’ve created,” said Kirsten Green, RRP’s director of operations. “Over the coming months, each of these 794 talented trainers will invest hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars in the future of their chosen horses. When you add all that up, that’s a pretty remarkable impact on the value of these horses.”

The accepted trainers include four-star eventers, dressage riders who have earned their U.S. Dressage Federation Gold Medals, A-circuit hunter riders, grand prix show jumpers, high-goal polo players, decorated barrel racers, and many horsemen who work within the racing industry. They represent 40 states and the District of Columbia, plus three Canadian provinces. Professionals make up 46 percent of the field; 42 percent are amateurs and 12 percent are juniors. The youngest trainer is 11; the oldest is 71. Thirty-one percent have participated in a prior Thoroughbred Makeover.

You can find the full list of accepted trainers on the Thoroughbred Makeover website.

“To me, the path to America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred was about quietly and patiently giving my horse a chance to succeed in another career,” said polo player Charlie Caldwell, trainer of the 2017 overall winner, Old Tavern. “Winning the Makeover came with national support, which definitely encouraged me to continue my interest in making my own polo ponies. But more importantly, the true winners of the Makeover were the hundreds of Thoroughbreds who have and will continue to find careers after racing. This competition brings great awareness to our horse community!

“My twin brother, Harry, and I look forward to the return to Lexington, meeting up with friends and also for the opportunity to showcase our brilliant Thoroughbreds who have proven their will, drive, talent, and heart to survive and thrive off the track.”

The Thoroughbreds that the 2018 Makeover trainers select to compete will all be of similar experience, having a maximum of 10 months of retraining by the time the competition takes place in October. What’s more, the event provides an unparalleled horse-shopping destination for riders seeking to obtain an off-track Thoroughbred that has already started its retraining and has competition mileage — around one-third of these horses will be available to purchase through the Thoroughbred Makeover Horse Sale.

Asking prices for horses in the 2017 sale ranged from $3,000 to $30,000, meaning that there are horses appropriate for amateurs and upper-level professionals alike. The average sale price was $9,100.

“The Thoroughbred Makeover has clearly engaged the commercial and recreational sides of the horse industry in the important work of transitioning these horses to secure futures,” said RRP President Steuart Pittman. “But it has also become the greatest horse shopping event of the year. Nowhere else in America can buyers view hundreds of sport horse prospects at reasonable prices with proven soundness and a solid foundation of training. The 2018 Makeover will be bigger and better than ever. Stay tuned for some exciting details.”

The Thoroughbred Makeover is a training competition open to professionals, amateurs, and juniors, offering 10 different disciplines — 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 winner is crowned in each discipline, and then spectators (viewing in person and via livestream) vote by text message for the Thoroughbred that most inspires them: America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred.

Ninety-one of the accepted trainers plan to bring two horses, bringing the potential total number of horses competing to 885. However, due to the uncertain nature of training green horses, the length of time between the acceptance of trainers and the actual competition, and the fact that many of the horses sell before they can compete, organizers expect final entries to be between 400 and 500 horses.

Thoroughbred Makeover weekend also includes educational seminars and discussion panels, mounted clinics for Thoroughbred Makeover competitors, and a vendor fair. All educational sessions and clinics are free to audit.