• 1 Back in 
the Game: Three new stallions at Bonita 
join crowd in Maryland
  • 2 Recipe 
for Tears: Three-year-old filly Crabcakes comes through
in Maryland Million Distaff for Houghton family
  • 3 Ben’s Cat, 
one more time, with feeling
  • 4 Holy Land: New Jersey’s Westampton Farm offers regional training option
  • 5 Checking in, looking back as Nov. arrives
  • 6 Joey P.
  • 7 Big hurdles 
on the horizon for jump racing
  • 8 Won Mugg
  • 9 Ben’s Cat leaves us all wondering why
  • 10 La Reine’s Terms
  • Back in 
the Game: Three new stallions at Bonita 
join crowd in Maryland

    When first-year stallion Norumbega died last June from colic, Bonita Farm’s Bill Boniface considered the prospects of starting over – again – and talked himself out of it. “This is the end,” he said of Bonita’s stallion program. The Darlington, Md., farm stood Etched, but the stallion wasn’t proving to be a commercial success and he would soon be sold to Korea. The aging Mojave Moon, pensioned and reduced to the role of teaser, would keep the stone stallion barn from being empty but Bonita had stood its last stallion.
    Read More
  • Recipe 
for Tears: Three-year-old filly Crabcakes comes through
in Maryland Million Distaff for Houghton family

    Bernie Houghton grew up a farm boy in Maryland and Pennsylvania, rode hundreds of steeplechase races, went skydiving. He’s nobody’s sissy, but even he struggled with his emotions after Crabcakes won the Maryland Million Distaff at Laurel Park Oct. 21.
    Read More
  • Ben’s Cat, 
one more time, with feeling

    Tractors rumbled, birds chirped and the sun tried to warm a chilly November morning. Next to the historic Laurel Park paddock, 100 or so fans gathered to salute one of Maryland’s grandest Thor­oughbreds – the wondrous Ben’s Cat – one more time. The people wore orange ties, orange jackets, orange sweatshirts and sweaters, orange scarves, orange hats, orange fleeces, even orange lipstick – all for Ben’s Cat, who did more for orange than Tropicana. Flying owner/trainer/breeder King T. Leatherbury’s orange and white silks, the nearly black gelding made 63 starts, won 32, earned $2.6 million, collected four Maryland-bred Horse of the Year titles. Along the way, he won fans, stopped a few hearts with photo-finish wins (and rare losses) and became an equine celebrity. He died in July, less than a month after being retired. Colic got him, after eight seasons of racing didn’t.
    Read More
  • Holy Land: New Jersey’s Westampton Farm offers regional training option

    Horsemen often seek a little divine intervention when it comes to the health and success of their Thoroughbreds. It can come through prayer, a rosary hung from a rear-view mirror, a small statue or picture in a tack room, or even a St. Christopher’s medal tucked under a saddle, like classic winner Smarty Jones often carried.
    Read More
  • Checking in, looking back as Nov. arrives

    November? It’s November? Yes, it’s November. Rake the leaves, start finalizing your stallion bookings, debate your neighbors on who should be Horse of the Year and stay busy following Thoroughbreds from one end of the region to the other. Some observations from September and October to feed the discussion: Maybe Virginia got it right. This isn’t to say every state should try to build a Thoroughbred program without a racetrack (though the gears of rumor squeak of a potential buyer for Colonial Downs), but Virginia’s Thoroughbred industry got creative and will get a boost from its various ideas to promote state-bred and state-certified racehorses.
    Read More
  • Joey P.

    He’s Jersey-born and -raised, Jersey-raced, Jersey-owned. He was very high-profile during his career. He’s the essence of this program, really.” Marilyn Haegele of Second Call Thoroughbred Adoption and Placement, the aftercare organization based at Monmouth Park, has an admitted soft spot for graded stakes winner Joey P. Haegele houses many of Second Call’s adoptees at her farmette in Shamong, N.J., giving them the necessary physical and mental downtime before they are phased into permanent homes.
    Read More
  • Big hurdles 
on the horizon for jump racing

    Back when Steeplechase Times was a thing, we used to write like this. If the jump game needed a reminder, a prodding, a nudge, an awakening, Steeplechase Times provided it. Sometimes, people agreed. Sometimes, they went crazy. This time. . . I don’t know, but here goes. To put it simply, jump racing needs new ideas, new people, new horses, new racing opportunities. Going it alone with little to no revenue from wagering, the National Stee­plechase Association, its race meets and host racetracks somehow offer about $6 million in prize money each year. That’s actually staggering when you think about it – what would flat racing’s purses be without wagering? – but total purses arent’ really the problem. Opportunity is.
    Read More
  • Won Mugg

    The story of Liz Currey Silva and Won Mugg started with a chance encounter in a tack store around 15 years ago. Silva, then in her early 20s, had a small operation retraining off-the-track Thoroughbreds for eventing. While on staff at Bit of Britain, a local saddlery in Oxford, Pa., she was approached by trainer Wendy Kinnamon, who wanted to know if Silva knew of anyone who’d like a job galloping racehorses.
    Read More
  • Ben’s Cat leaves us all wondering why

    You can always train the other guy’s horse. That’s what my father says whenever anyone second-guesses someone else’s handling of a horse, a child, a sports team, a business, pretty much anything. It’s easy to question decisions from the sidelines, difficult to actually make decisions in the barn or on the field or in the executive chair.
    Read More
  • La Reine’s Terms

    To Mid-Atlantic racegoers, he was a familiar sight. From early 1998 until October 2005, La Reine’s Terms went to the post 40 times in the recognizable black and gold silks of his owners/breeders, Howard and Sondra Bender. He ended up in the winner’s circle on 16 of those occasions, and by the time he headed into his well-earned retirement, he won 10 stakes, was graded stakes-placed and had bankrolled $804,591.
    Read More

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Post Time

  • Dashing Through The Snow

    Dashing Through The Snow

    While not quite as fast as the 1970s Pennsylvania-bred legend, this red fox kept pace just fine during a December snowstorm at Parx Racing.
  • Hunting Party

    Hunting Party

    Maryland’s Green Spring Valley Hounds head out for their 125th Opening Day in November.
  • HORSES IN THE MIST

    HORSES IN THE MIST

    The equine life at Shamrock Farm in Woodbine, MD., took on an ethereal look on a September Morning. Photo by Christie Steele
  • See Horses

    See Horses

    A mare and foal find their reflections while getting a drink at Maryland’s Country Life Farm.
  • GHOSTS IN THE MIST

    GHOSTS IN THE MIST

    Announcer Dave Rodman must have had fun with this one. Thoroughbreds charge through the gloaming during a rainstorm at Laurel Park in July.
  • Galloping Ghost

    Galloping Ghost

    Retired MD-bred turf star Better Talk Now, who died of colic in June at age 18, puts in some work on a frosty turf course at Churchill Downs.
  • Taste Of Maryland

    Taste Of Maryland

    Lead pony rider Alena Marchant gets some refreshment on Black-Eyed Susan Day at Pimlico.
  • Joys Of Spring

    Joys Of Spring

    A Malibu Moon colt out of Safe Journey – a half-brother to stakes winners Joy and O Dionysus – got caught up in the moment at Maryland’s Dark Hollow Farm while Mom enjoyed some spring grass.
  • Open Door Policy

    Open Door Policy

    The Mares (and Foals) at Country Life Farm were in view on a nighttime visit.
  • PEEK-A-BOO

    PEEK-A-BOO

    A Bonita Farm foal peeks around its mother Bay of Bengal during a late-winter visit. Photo by Anne L. Frederick
  • Fog Warning

    Fog Warning

    South Carolina’s Aiken Training Center was shrouded in mist during a winter training session.
  • Protect this fence

    Protect this fence

    Newly turned yearlings at Sagamore Farm line up for the camera (well, one clearly is distracted) during a short-lived January snow. Jocelyn Brooks photo.
  • Worm’s eye view

    Worm’s eye view

    Under a striking autumn sky, Spartianos and Luis Garcia battle for position late in the Maryland Million Turf at Laurel Park Oct. 22. They finished second to Phlash Phelps in the $125,000 race. Scott Serio/EclipseSportswire
  • Red Sky at Night

    Red Sky at Night

    Ghost Hunter looks all right before loading in the gate for the Presque Isle Mile at Presque Isle Downs Sept. 18. He ran his winning streak to five in the $200,000 stakes. Coady Photography.
  • The shadow

    The shadow

    Convey, a mare at the Safely Home division of Dark Hollow Farm in Upperco, Md., stops the camera of Lucas Richardson during a summer visit. Richardson, who turns 9 on Oct. 11, won a blue ribbon in the Maryland State Fair photo contest for the image – judged the best in the Animals (black and white) division for photographers under age 16.
  • Big Sky Country

    Big Sky Country

    Laurel Park does its best Montana impression as a runner heads back to the barn in August. Jim McCue photo.
  • Pony Ride

    Pony Ride

    The day after her 600th win, Maryland-based jockey Forest Boyce (right, aboard July 2015 Pensioner on Parade My Lord) leads out some Green Spring Valley Hounds pony camp riders June 20. Boyce was joined at the head of the group by Maryland Hunt Cup winner Liz McKnight. Carol Fenwick photo
  • Family Portrait

    Family Portrait

    Ben’s Cat heads to the Pimlico paddock accompanied by his half-brothers Pair (left, Doug Leatherman aboard) and Hound (Kerry Hohlbein).Lydia A. Williams photo.
  • Hey, It's a Maryland-bred

    Hey, It's a Maryland-bred

    Sister Keys showed off her day-old baby Purple Rain (in honor of Prince, of course) at Seven Dots Farm in Butler, Maryland. Anne Litz photo.
  • Senior Moment

    Senior Moment

    Hansel, who won the Preakness Stakes 25 years ago, enjoys a regal retirement at Lazy Lane Farms in Virginia. At 28, the Virginia-bred is the oldest North American classic winner. Champion 3-year-old of 1991, he won the Preakness and Belmont Stakes and earned more than $2.9 million for Lazy Lane and trainer Frankie Brothers. Douglas Lees photos
  • Final Salute

    Final Salute

    The New Castle County (Del.) Police Department's mounted patrol unit stands at attention at the funeral of Harford County Sheriff's Senior Deputy Patrick Dailey in February in Maryland.
  • Snow Angel

    Snow Angel

    Retired champion Declan's Moon enjoys a roll in the snow from the blizzard of 2016 at Maryland's Country Life Farm. Ellen B. Pons photo.
  • Dawn Patrol

    Dawn Patrol

    Training starts with the sun at Fair Hill Training Center, and all around the region. Kathee Rengert photo
  • The Last Gallop

    The Last Gallop

    The Last Gallop. Triple Crown winner and Horse of the Year American Pharoah enjoys his morning work at Keeneland before the Breeders’ Cup. Lydia A. Williams photo
  • Where's Waldo

    Where's Waldo

    Trainer Shug McGaughey’s exercise riders at Fair Hill Training Center are dressed for Halloween, but could pass for Santa’s elves too. The horses don’t seem to care. Kathee Rengert photo
  • Sky Riders

    Sky Riders

    Paris Vegas (right) and Gnostic head back to be unsaddled after a flat race at the Shawan Downs steeplechase meet Sept. 26. Trained by Elizabeth Voss, the Maryland-based stablemates finished first and third, respectively, for jockeys Jack Doyle and Gus Dahl. Lydia A. Williams photo.
  • Flying solo.

    Flying solo.

    Millionaire Eighttofasttocatch, a 12-time stakes winner who retired from the track in December 2014 at age 8, shows off his new skill as an event horse, with a hot-air balloon as a backdrop, at the Maryland State Fair for rider Rumsey Keefe. ©Anne Litz Photo.
  • Fit for a King

    Fit for a King

    Monmouth Park went all out – including a custom-wrapped van – to welcome American Pharoah to the Haskell.
  • Smooth Sailing

    Smooth Sailing

    Madeline Murphy and Bonnie take a dip during the Green Spring Valley Hounds summer pony camp. Carol Fenwick photo.
  • Triple Vision

    Triple Vision

    American Pharoah sees all while getting a bath at Churchill Downs. Six days later, he became racing's 12th Triple Crown winner and first since 1978. Mary M. Meek/Eclipse Sportswire.
  • Sidesaddle

    Sidesaddle

    Sean McDermott hangs on to Choral Society at the Queens Cup in North Carolina. Tod Marks.
  • The Feet

    The Feet

    Hooves flash and fly on the turn at Laurel Park. Lydia A. Williams
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Top Midlantic-bred Poll with The Racing Biz

  • 3yos

    Irish War Cry (NJ) Unique Bella (PA) Fast and Accurate (PA) Bonus Points (MD) Moonlit Song (WV)
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RRTP TBMakeoverNatSymp2013smThe Retired Racehorse Training Project has run successful challenge and makeover projects since 2009, pushing for more Thoroughbred competitions beyond racing and shining a light on the need for more efforts to help horses find careers beyond the racetrack.

It all moves another step forward next month with the first Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium at Pimlico Race Course Oct. 5-6. The event will provide the public appearance of the latest crop of Thoroughbreds to dive into the RRTP, 26 horses chosen by 26 trainers to teach, convert and showcase in a variety of disciplines from polo to eventing to steer roping. We will be highlighting the Makeover's Mid-Atlantic connections (bothhuman and equine) in the weeks leading up to October 5 and 6.

07-ZF-6641-18288-1-001Makeover Trainer: Jessica Bortner-Harris of Thurmond, NC

Jessica Bortner-Harris, a native of York, PA, rescued her first event horse off the track in 199, a 7 year old named Mr. Lincoln. Her love of Thoroughbreds, though, began as a teen when she visited the great Seattle Slew at Three Chimneys Farm. "It was like meeting your favorite sports player.  I was in awe." From then on, Jessica knew Thoroughrbeds would play a central role in her life as a rider. In 2005, Jessica bought Win the War from Charles Town Racetrack. She has retrained him, and he is currently successfully competing at recognized events at the Advanced/CIC*** level with hopes of going CCI*** this fall.

"Almost all of my own horses have been OTTBs."  Jessica retrains and Events from her base at Rocky Start Stables in North Carolina, and is also a popular writer for the blog Eventing Nation, where she discusses the dominant role of Thoroughbreds in the eventing world. "I love how quickly most of them catch on to their new jobs and give it their all.  They have huge hearts and are such try-ers.  Because of this, they make excellent candidates for Eventing.  Speed, endurance, scope, and heart are some very important things needed in Eventing." 

ReadJessica Bortner-Harris' Thoroughbred Makeover Blog

Thoroughbred in Training: PrettyHippHopHotty ("Hotty")

Breeding:
2007, CH , M, Bowman's Band-She's Pretty Too, by Housebuster
Bred in Pennsylvania by Toni M. Kirwan & Edward Hipps

Racing Career: 
Starts: 17 
Wins: 2 
Place: 0 
Show: 3 
Earnings: $45,938
Last Raced: Penn National, 6/6/2012

Jessica began the Thoroughbred Makeover with a West-Virginia bred mare named Horizontal Love, but "Sexy's" hooves were not holding up to training right off the track. Despite doing everything she could for Sexy, Jessica finally realized that her new off-the-track Thoroughbred just needed a little extra time off her feet. "I just don't want to take shortcuts and push her if she isn't ready." Wtih 34 days until the Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium, Jessica chose PrettyHippHopHotty from her own stable with Steuart Pittman's blessing, a big chestnut mare that has only been in serious training for 10 months. "She has come a long way, and is currently eventing at the Novice level with the hopes of moving up to Training by the end of this season." With "Hotty", Jessica hopes to showcase what an ex-racehorse with a bit more training can do at Pimlico in October. 

Watch: Jessica and PrettyHippHopHotty school at home

 

More information on the Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium.

Buy tickets to the Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium and receive free general admission to Jim McKay Maryland Million Day, October 19, 2013 at Laurel Park!

Follow the Retired Racehorse Training Project on Facebook and on Twitter.

 

 

Say It Again

  • "He was either going to have to fly on a plane by himself with a load of asparagus for $18,000 or we were going to wait for a full plane. So we opted out of the asparagus and waited."
    Trainer Elizabeth Voss On trying to get Modem (GB) over from Ireland
  • "It's like going after a bear with a stick."
    Trainer About running a longshot in a Saratoga Grade 1.
  • "He didn't know how to jump when he got here, he couldn't even jump a log on the ground, I don't know why, he was totally re-schooled."
    Trainer Jack Fisher About hurdle winner Moscato (GB) who raced over jumps in four times in England before being imported.
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Popular Stories

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Connections

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