You’re going to use that thoroughbred for what?

Each week a different expert ranks three OTTBs in terms of their suitability for a specific discipline. This week features Lara Knight, an eventer on the Olympic trail with her own OTTB.

This Week’s Evaluator: Lara Knight. Former vaulter turned upper-level eventer with eyes set on becoming a part of our next Olympic team with her OTTB, Shooby Do.

Chosen Discipline: Eventing–heart, mind, body, soul and obsession (thank heavens I have an understanding husband!)

Favorite Thoroughbreds: Secretariat, Sea Biscuit, Phar Lap and Man o’ War for history and cool. Gem Twist, Bonnie Nuit, Storm Cat grandkids, Alydar, Fappiano, AP Indy, Kitten’s Joy, Noble Causeway and a few other lines I like and hunt down for sport horses.

Horse 1: Top Lass

2005 Bay Thoroughbred Mare, 16 hands

Bloodlines: Top Account x Luzerne Lassie by Citidancer

Listing Location: Finger Lakes Finest Thoroughbreds

Horse #1-Top Lass

Top Lass

Horse 2: U Ought to Know

2009 Chestnut Thoroughbred Gelding, 16.2 hands

Bloodlines: Utopia x Brassy Shirley by Dixie Brass

Listing Location: Finger Lakes Finest Thoroughbreds

Horse #2-U Ought to Know

U Ought to Know

Horse 3: Florida Quaker

2004 Chestnut Thoroughbred Mare, 15.3 hands

Bloodlines: Quaker Ridge x Wolftundra by Wolf Power (SAF)

Listing Location: Finger Lakes Finest Thoroughbreds

Horse #3-Florida Quaker

Florida Quaker

 How I ranked them: 2-3-1

3rd place: Top Lass

My first impression of this mare just off the pic is potential powerhouse. She’s got a great shoulder, is pretty balanced overall with three fairly equal body sections, and with a good hip on her. I like her deep chest and girth area (need room for the lungs to breathe on cross country!) I’m a neck person too and I like that hers comes out high and she’s got a nice set of withers on her. I wish they had stood her up straighter as I think her neck is actually a bit longer and would balance her body out. I think her turning her head to pose has made her neck look shorter than it is. She seems pretty level and could fit in that “conformation box” everyone is always talking about. (Disclaimer: I AM NOT a conformation expert–I just know what I like and am always learning!)

The hallowed "box" of conformation gurus...replete with some other geometry.

The hallowed “box” of conformation gurus… replete with some other geometry.

I like her hip and rump, as it gives me the impression that she could bring it under her and “sit” and carry herself well. She appears to have a decent foot–big plus there–not loudly screaming “high/low with too long a toe” as is generally the case and actually has something of a heel. Her pasterns are a tad long for me which sadly lead up to the deal breaker if I was looking to buy her as a resale project or upper-level mount: her ankles. They show quite a fair amount of rounding in them. As I now look into her bloodlines and race record I can see possibly why: Bless her heart, she’s 8 years old and had 66 starts with 8 wins, 12 places, and 13 shows–not too shabby placing 1st-3rd in half of her races! Having started racing when she was 4 she’s had a lot of miles on those legs in 4 years. My first impression was correct: She is a powerhouse. She won over $136,000 for her owners and ran over 10 races every year. Her second year as a 5 year old she ran a total of 16 times!

I have to say I’m not very familiar with her pedigree. By TOP ACCOUNT (30 starts, $466,819) who is by PRIVATE ACCOUNT (13 starts, $339,396) who does go back to DAMASCUS and BUCKPASSER.

Private Account, one of North America's all time leading broodmare sires.

Private Account, one of North America’s all time leading broodmare sires.

She is out of the unraced mare LUZERNE LASSIE whose parents were in the $70k/$80k winnings: Sire CITIDANCER (4 starts, 3 wins, 1 place $80,022) and dam THIRTYEIGHTCALIBER (26 starts, $77,200 with 50% in top 3). So the breeding for racing seemed to be a good one.

Citidancer, who stood at Country Life Farm in Maryland and was one of New England's leading sires for many years.

Citidancer, who stood at Country Life Farm in Maryland and was one of New England’s leading sires for many years.

In watching her video she looks jammed up behind in her hips/sacrum/pelvis (no, I’m not a chiropractor but I’ve been through this enough to see a stuck horse). She can’t track up behind, has no articulation in the hips, and looks quite hocky. Because she is stuck in her hips she can’t take a longer stride behind and track up. She also is slightly uneven.

I wish people would do a good walk video as well as a trot video. Horses are generally more relaxed on the backside walking around. They don’t trot in hand very often and it’s very exciting to them so you don’t see them at their best, in my opinion.  She’s also very tight up front and I’m sure is probably stuck in her shoulders and the unevenness in the front feet might be due to a twisted sternum. Some down time, and a few frequent chiropractic adjustments followed by acupuncture would do her some good. As with the ankle I’d have it radiographed to see how bad the changes are.

2nd Place: Florida Quaker

Florida Quaker's headshot...gotta love a mare with big ears!

Florida Quaker’s headshot…gotta love a mare with big ears!

Pretty girl with a cool liver chestnut color! She really strikes my fancy initially with a lovely neck that comes out high and elegant, nice sloping shoulder, deep chest and girth for galloping and I like her hip. She’s got a fantastic expression and gotta love a mare with big ears! I bet she’s smart! Sadly she has pretty long pasterns and in the 2nd picture it’s very obvious she’s got a real bad case of the high/lows and even appears that way in the hind feet too…

She is also a grandchild of FORTY NINER and I’m seeing a common denominator in the head! Hmmmm!

Forty Niner at stud in Japan.

Forty Niner at stud in Japan.

Dear heavens she’s 9 yrs old with a whopping 90 (!!!) starts under her belt! (Somebody please retire her!) She’s won over $139k, placing in the top 3 26 times out and has run 15 times in 2013 alone. For all that incredible wear and tear this mare has some clean looking legs. (Feet need a bit of help!) but I’m surprised with how good she looks.

Video isn’t the best as she’s in tilled dirt. She’s also jacked in her hips and stuck so hence the shorter stabby steps behind at the trot. I get the gut feeling that a good chiro would open her up, even her out and she’d be a lovely mover. With the chain over her nose and the deep footing you couldn’t get a real take on her front end, but she seems to be a pretty level mover and I’d be thinking “hunter” for this one. Given the opportunity with all the new TB shows out there I’d take her home and give her some TLC and enter her in the War Horse ($100k or more) classes and do some low hunters–try to see if she’d be a nice ladies horse.

With all those races and her legs still that clean I get the gut impression that she could be one of those “bred sound” horses that will hold up. She’s 9 (now turning 10) and deserves a lower pressure lifestyle. If she was 4 with only a few races on her I’d snatch her up and try to make her an adult amateur ladies horse. Wish I had someone looking for something like that in my barn as I’d seriously consider her. With a few more groceries to round her out she’d be beautiful in the hunter or dressage ring, even low level eventing.

She’s by QUAKER RIDGE who won over $95k and was trained by Wayne D. Lucas; QUAKER RIDGE is by FORTY NINER (I think that’s where she got her head).

Quaker Ridge, who was a won of Forty Niner and the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies champion, Twilight Ridge....aka racing royalty.

Quaker Ridge, who was a son of Forty Niner and the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies champion Twilight Ridge… a.k.a. racing royalty.

Shes out of WOLFTUNDRA who didn’t have a super stellar career but who was by WOLF POWER who apparently won over $758k.

1st place: U Ought to Know

This is a gelding I wouldn’t mind bringing into my barn! Quite balanced with a nice short back, nice laid back shoulder, high neck with nice set of withers, good length of neck, and a rump that’s as big as his shoulder. Legs are quite clean and feet are pretty decent but I get the impression he’s got a slight high/low going on up front which has never bothered me (just know it’s part of the process and takes 6-8 shoeings to come around). He doesn’t have the equilateral triangle in his hip which conformation people say is ideal and when he is standing balanced with his foot underneath him it looks like he’s camped under a bit–gives me impression he too could sit and carry well in dressage but how strong will his hocks be in the long run… I like his expression. He’s a bit thick in the throatlatch for me and has a coarse jaw, an eye on the smaller side and a blocky head and small mouth. I get the impression that he could be a bit of a fun cocky jock type horse.

U Ought to Know's headshot.  The look of "let's get ready to rock".

U Ought to Know’s headshot: the look of “let’s get ready to rock.”

In watching his video I applaud that they showed his walk. From the little I saw I liked it and you can see especially at the end that he tracks up well even for being a little “up.” I do like his trot video, which shows he is quite close to tracking up and looks fluid and even. The few uneven steps I caught I blame on him getting tight and a little sideways.

He’s run a fair amount in his short 4 years: 24 starts total. Started as a 2 yr old with 2 races, then 12 in his 3 yr old year, and 10 races here in 2013 his 4 yr old year. Trainer says he’s lost interest. The fact that he’s that clean looking with that many races poses a great possibility to me (still shoot x-rays!!)

This gelding has some rich bloodlines. His sire is UTOPIA (JPN) who in 34 starts won over $4.9 million dollars! He ran most his life in Japan till coming over to the United States to run in 2007 where he won the Westchester Handicap (Grade 3, Belmont Park) and placed second in the Styvesant Handicap (Grade 3, Aqueduct) before retiring and standing stud. UTOPIA was by the great FORTY NINER who won over $2.7 million and was 2nd in the 1988 Kentucky Derby.

Utopia (JPN)-An up and coming sire in New York and a top racehorse the world over.

Utopia (JPN)–an up and coming sire in New York and a top racehorse the world over.

On his dam’s side he is out of Brassy Shirley who was by Dixie Brass, a multiple graded stakes winner claiming over $631K in 15 starts for his owners.

Overall I really like this guy and provided he x-rays clean I wouldn’t mind having him as a project horse in my barn. He looks like a smart eventer type that could be that little bit of good cocky and tough.

If you think an off-track Thoroughbred might be right for you, no matter what the discipline, find out more information on what to look for, how to purchase and get re-training tips at



Each year, there are many wonderful horses at Finger Lakes Race Track in Western New York who are ready to end their racing careers and find good new non-racing homes. Finger Lakes Finest Thoroughbreds, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) charitable tax exempt not-for-profit corporation that works with trainers at the track and with people interested in acquiring an OTTB to help the retiring race horses find ideal new homes. Learn more at Finger Lakes Finest Thoroughbreds.



About the Author:

Lara Knight is an upper level three-day event rider with her eyes set on becoming part of an Olympic team. This is a lifelong dream she has been pursuing since she was a small girl galloping her mother’s horses down the old Manassas Battlefield trails in Virginia. After taking a sabbatical from eventing in her teens to compete in equestrian vaulting (gymnastics on horseback) where she became a member of the US Friendship Team, she returned to eventing after she retired from vaulting competition and moved to Nashville, TN. Since that move she has been steadily working up the ranks and has finally found a horse worthy of her dream.

Lara vaulting as a young girl.

Lara vaulting as a young girl.

An avid “OTTB snob,” Lara met Shooby Do thru the Maker’s Mark Secretariat Center (MMSC) in Lexington, KY Sept 2009. Four short years later the pair just recently completed their first Advanced horse trial. They have numerous wins and titles even winning the Poplar Place CIC1* one year and returning the next year to take the 2* championship. From 2011 to April 2013 Lara was the Head Trainer for the MMSC, commuting weekly back and forth from Nashville to Lexington, running both her own farm and training program and heading up the reschooling program for the MMSC. With Shooby Do making waves into the elite upper levels of the sport Lara felt that she needed to step down from the MMSC to focus on developing this horse and less hours commuting on the road!

Lara and her current upper level eventing partner, OTTB Shooby Do...on the Olympic trail!

Lara and her current upper level eventing partner, OTTB Shooby Do…on the Olympic trail!

She also was privileged to be one of the chosen few trainers to take part in the inaugural Retired Racehorse Training Project where trainers took on brand new OTTBs and had roughly 3 months to reschool them in disciplines of their choice. In October 2013 these 26 trainers and their horses met at Pimlico Racecourse to perform and show off the wonderful mind, versatility, and athleticism of the OTTB. Lara’s project horse, Rob’s Rock, was schooled to be an event horse, but also did a surprise demonstration by also showing that he could be a vaulting horse(!) allowing Lara to mount, perform on, and dismount him on the longing circle. Needless to say he stole the show as most people believe thoroughbreds to be too “hot” to be steady enough to be a vaulting horse! Lara believes that with correct, classical and sympathetic training to establish clean consistent communication you can teach a horse to do anything even though they might excel in a certain discipline.

Lara and her 2013 RRTP Thoroughbred Makeover horse, Rob's Rock (aka Ari) practicing a big of vaulting at home.

Lara and her 2013 RRTP Thoroughbred Makeover horse, Rob’s Rock (aka Ari) practicing a bit of vaulting at home.

The quest for an Olympic dream is a long and hard one, yet a very exciting one. Lara has been seeking assistance to aid in funding this endeavor. Please check out her and Shooby’s site and consider becoming a part of Team Knight! You could even win a Hit Air Vest or a Shoulder Relief Girth with your sponsorship as well as other cool swag items! How cool would it be to see Lara and Shoo running around Rolex or an Olympic cross country course and be able to say, “That’s my horse and rider! I helped get her there!”

Shooby Do is also available for Syndication in order for Lara to afford the high expense of maintaining and training an elite horse. You can contact her for more information thru her web site at She is currently accepting new horses for training as well as riders interested in her program. She is also available for clinics at your own farm.


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