Each week a different expert ranks three OTTBs in terms of their suitability for a specific discipline. This week features racing writer, photographer and avid equestrian Sarah Andrew.
This Week’s Evaluator: Since 2003, Sarah has honed her skills as a horse racing photographer and has been mentored by some of the top shooters in the sport. Her award-winning photography is displayed in galleries and has been published in books, magazines and newspapers worldwide. In 2007, she joined the staff of the Thoroughbred Daily News in Red Bank, New Jersey.
As a volunteer, Sarah has photographed over 5,000 horses in need at rescues, auctions and emergency horse aid efforts. Her “Horses and Hope” Calendar Project raised over $100,000 for equine charities in the first three years and is an enormous social media success.
An avid equestrian since childhood, Sarah currently rides her off-track thoroughbred Wizard (Jockey Club name Doctor’s Secret) in a variety of disciplines, from dressage to hunter paces. When not riding or shooting at the racetrack, you can find her photographing local and national rock and roll acts, including her husband Jonathan’s latest band.
Favorite Thoroughbreds: Sunday Silence, Kelso, Dr. Fager, Ribot, Dubai Millennium, Zenyatta, Gem Twist, Desert Orchid, Ghostzapper, Goldikova, Frisky Spider, McDynamo, Hyperion.
This Week’s Thoroughbred Placement Organization: Rerun
Chosen Discipline: Low-level, all-around English pleasure disciplines, from dressage to jumping to trails.
THIS WEEK’S HORSES:
Horse #1: Lane Drifter
Foaled in Kentucky on March 12, 2009
16 hand Bay Thoroughbred Gelding
Street Sense x Sweet Little Avie by Lord Avie
6 starts, 0 wins, 1 second and 1 third for earnings of $6,567
Horse #2: Two of a Kind
Foaled in Florida on February 4, 2009
16 hand Dark Bay or Brown Thoroughbred Gelding
Bob and John x Hey Bob a Reba by Cox’s Ridge
6 starts, 1 wins, 2 second and 1 third for earnings of $24,190
Horse #3: Blazing Blaise
Foaled in Pennsylvania on March 5, 2009
16.2 hand Dark Bay or BrownThoroughbred Gelding
Cactus Ridge x Gold Room by Mining
I’m a pleasure rider who does a good bit of trail riding, and I compete in a few horse shows as time and budget permit. I keep my horses for life, so long-term soundness is the most important quality for me, followed by a reasonably pleasant personality. Since I’m not focused on any one discipline, I like to work on a horse’s balance and flexibility with basic dressage work and then see what the horse likes to do. Jumpers, hunters, hunter paces, eventing, judged trail rides… they are all fun with the right horse.
ReRun has a lovely group of horses available for adoption. I’m particularly fond of bay geldings with minimal white, so these three must have been custom ordered for me! Because I’m not looking for an equine athlete for a specific sport and I don’t generally jump higher than 3 feet, I evaluate overall balance in a horse, and I like to see a horse with a very nice walk.
Pedigree is a great thing to research (which I love to do!), and it can give you helpful clues about a horse’s personality, jumping ability and physical issues, but I would never dismiss a potential horse based on pedigree alone. I feel the same way about a horse’s sales and racing records; they provide valuable insight, but they would never be a deal-breaker for me. I’ve seen elite athletes come from every imaginable corner of the horse world, so I try to give them all a chance. I would have a different set of criteria if I was looking for a broodmare or an upper-level horse.
Based on the photos and descriptions, I’d probably be very happy with any of these three geldings.
HOW I RANKED THEM: 1-3-2
Third Place: Horse #2, Two of a Kind
It looks like Two of a Kind inherited good-sized feet from his Grade 1-winning sire, Bob and John, which is a GREAT thing, in my book. His pedigree has a tough NY-bred bottom side, and he’s the only horse of our group who won a race.
It’s hard to tell from the photo, but it looks like he’s a little back at the knee and his hind end does not look like it has as much power as Lane Drifter and Blazing Blaise. I also prefer the shoulder and wither on Lane Drifter and Blazing Blaise. Two of a Kind sold for $150,000 as a yearling (at Keeneland September 2010 – same sale as Lane Drifter), more than six times his sire’s yearling sales average. I look forward to seeing some new photos and videos as his training progresses.
Second Place: Horse #3: Blazing Blaise
When you’re evaluating horses, there are lots of great online tools that can give you additional insight into your prospects. Blazing Blaise sold for $55,000 as a two-year-old in training, and you can see his breeze video here. Overall, Blazing Blaise has the best sporthorse conformation of these three horses. When I look at his photos and videos, I see the powerful hind end of his sire, Cactus Ridge.
His neck is set very nicely, not as low as the other two horses. He’s balanced out with a beautiful hip. The combination of his neck and shoulder will give him the ability to come off his forehand and stay light in the front end. He looks like he’s a little back at the knee, and I think I see some rounding of his ankles. I chose Lane Drifter over Blazing Blaise because Blazing Blaise is described as a field hunter type. I get the feeling that he might be a little bigger than I like, and not quite as handy or light on his feet as Lane Drifter.
From the descriptions, he sounds like he’s a willing and kind horse, which is very important for a rider like me. Since I board, I like a horse who is gentle to handle for blanketing, deworming, etc. It’s also nice to have a horse who is pleasant to ride in groups and is good in turnout situations.
First Place: Horse #1, Lane Drifter
In addition to my fondness for bay geldings with minimal white markings, I also LOVE Street Sense. I was a big fan of Street Sense as a racehorse, and I enjoyed photographing him at the track.
In Lane Drifter, I can see his sire’s expression, depth in body, and overall balance. As part of his sire’s first foal crop, Lane Drifter sold as a yearling for $230,000. Lane Drifter is a little longer in the back than his sire, but he has a lovely shoulder and hip. His pasterns look long in the photo, but I’d like to see what they (and his feet) look like on firm ground. At 3, he made 6 starts and hit the board twice but failed to make it to the winner’s circle. The description on ReRun’s page states that he’s pleasant to work with, so he has both the look and the personality that I like.
Lane Drifter showing off his cone-carrying skills…funny and worth a watch!
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 retiredracehorsetraining.org
ReRun Thoroughbred Adoption pioneered the concept that when Thoroughbreds’ racing days are over, they don’t need to be sent to auction or slaughter but can be retrained to pursue second careers in other forms of equitation while enjoying another 20+ years of companionship with their new adoptive families. Find out more at www.rerunottb.com