From the May/June 2014 issue, written by S. E. Morris
Secretariat’s birthplace will once again host an exciting event to honor Thoroughbreds: the Thoroughbred Heritage Horse Show, scheduled for July 25–27, 2014, at Meadow Event Park in Doswell, Va.
Planning for the inaugural event began in October, according to Krista Hodgkin, co-coordinator of the Thoroughbred Heritage Horse Show. The committee is comprised of nine Thoroughbred-owning equestrians “who are passionate about second careers for these horses; they have either been volunteering at Thoroughbred horse shows or competing at them or both for several years, and each bring[s] a wealth of knowledge to the table,” Hodgkin said.
The three-day event features full days of competition, including hunter, jumper, dressage, side saddle, Western and combined training opportunities, and model and leadline classes. All horses competing must have a Thoroughbred Incentive Program ID from the Jockey Club. The event will offer more than $4,000 in prize money sponsored by the Virginia Thoroughbred Association, TAKE2 Second Career Thoroughbred Program, and the Jockey Club Thoroughbred Incentive Program.
Hodgkin also described the Club 31 sponsorship program, a project named in honor of Secretariat’s 31-length margin of victory in the Belmont Stakes. For a brief time, people could sponsor the show for only $31. Sponsorships are still available and start at $50, which includes the Foaling Shed and the Yearling Barn.
Hodgkin stressed the importance of 100 percent sponsorship for the event, as it enables the coordinators to “offset rental fees for the facility, provide tents, build jumps, and make entry and stabling fees affordable for exhibitors.”
Most important, 60 percent of the profits raised from the show will benefit the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF) at James River, an equine sanctuary founded in 2007. The purpose of TRF is to “save Thoroughbreds from neglect, abuse, and slaughter,” with the James River chapter offering the Second Chances program, which gives James River Work Center offenders the opportunity to care for the horses and become certified in the Groom Elite program.
Anne Tucker, president of the James River TRF chapter, stated that it costs $2,500 per year to provide upkeep for each horse on the property; there are currently 21 horses at James River. During the seven years the chapter has been in existence, 35 Thoroughbreds have been adopted to “good, loving homes,” said Tucker.
“The program is wholly dependent on donations,” stressed Tucker. “It is so important for people to be aware of that.”
Tucker also emphasized the importance of the Second Chances program, which involves training “men as grooms and helping them to secure employment—usually in the equestrian industry—after their release.”
“These ex-race horses receive excellent care at the James River Work Center, but they have valuable jobs to train these men, which they enjoy. It is a win-win situation for both groups,” said Tucker.
For the Thoroughbred Heritage Horse Show, the chapter will bring Covert Action and Multiple Choice, descendants of Secretariat, to “welcome visitors.”
“It’s amazing to see Covert Action interact with people,” said Tucker. “He’s just a natural and loves to greet everyone.
“He draws people to him—people like to come and see him and Multiple Choice; many people have met them and visit them every year at different events, which provides [a] way for us to tell people about our program,” she added.
During the July three-day show, the James River TRF chapter will be selling t-shirts and other merchandise, along with soliciting donations to provide funding for its programs.
“Obviously, we love Thoroughbreds! We’re so glad people are taking such an interest in them and are giving them second careers,” Tucker enthused.
“We love all of the Thoroughbred horse shows and the many things these horses can do, including pleasure, dressage, hunter, jumpers, and as companions to other horses. Thoroughbreds are versatile, wonderful athletes with great minds!”
A special occurrence at the Thoroughbred Heritage Horse Show will be a ceremony and group photo in the main show ring featuring descendants of Meadow’s Thoroughbreds, which include not only Secretariat but also other Meadow champions such as Riva Ridge, Sir Gaylord, Somethingroyal, Cicada, Hildene, and Hasty Matelda. Hodgkin encourages exhibitors to “carefully research their Thoroughbred’s heritage to see if he or she qualifies to participate in the photo.”
Prize lists and entry forms for the event will be available by May 1, with entries opening on June 23rd. Hodgkin encourages people to join the online mailing list to receive the prize list, along with sponsorship and event updates.
“Admission is free for spectators!” said Hodgkin.
“We encourage everyone who loves horses, loves Thoroughbreds, or loves Secretariat to come out and enjoy watching these magnificent athletes excelling in their new lives after the racetrack!”
For more information about the Thoroughbred Heritage Horse Show, visit the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/thoroughbredheritagehorseshow. Prize List is available here: http://www.thoroughbredalliance.org/documents/2014THHSPrizeList.pdf
To join the mailing list, receive the prize list, and obtain sponsorship information, email Krista Hodgkin at email@example.com.
For information about the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation at James River, visit http://jamesriverhorses.com.