Imagine: A Thoroughbred trainer has five horses competing in an important event at Pimlico on the same Saturday. He needs to find four more excellent jockeys to ensure the horses get the best ride possible in the competition. Fairly normal situation, right? Except these Thoroughbreds chase cows for a living, not the finish wire.
Sometimes it really is a matter of the more, the merrier. And when the Retired Racehorse Training Project (RRTP) asked ranch horse trainer Dale Simanton to bring his full crew ranch and cattle-trained off-track Thoroughbreds to Baltimore for the RRTP Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium on October 5 and 6, nobody really thought about who was going to ride them.
"That was when we conceived this idea of inviting a group of jockeys to take the mounts on these horses," said RRTP President, Steuart Pittman. "We can't imagine anything more fun than having some of America's most well-known riders taking the reins on this group of 'cow horses' for this event."
The event, named "Who Let the Cows Out?", will pair celebrity jockeys with retired Thoroughbred racehorses from the Gate to Great training program of Newell, South Dakota to compete on the Pimlico track in a "team sorting" event. Each team of two horses and riders will have a maximum of two minutes to sort a small herd of numbered cattle into a corral in numeric order. The team with the fastest time and correct sorting order wins the competition. The event requires cow sense, teamwork and fast thinking on the part of both the horses and riders.
And to help select the final group of jockeys to appear at the event on Saturday, October 5, the Retired Racehorse Training Project is inviting the public to weigh in on who they would like to see answer the call to the post and mount up for this cow-chasing challenge. An online nomination form can be found on the RRTP's website at www.retiredracehorsetraining.org. Fans are invited to nominate any rider, active or retired, to "cowboy up" and join in the fun. Nominations will close Monday, September 9. The final group of selected jockeys will be announced on the RRTP website and Facebook page on Thursday, September 12.
The "Who Let the Cows Out?" event will take place as part of the "Western Invasion" of Pimlico Racecourse on day one of the RRTP Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium. In addition to the team sorting competition, Kentucky Derby-winning owner, Bill Casner, will join trainer Dale Simanton in a team roping demonstration and a barrel racing event with the Thoroughbred Makeover's own Nikki Egyed and her horse, Symphonic Cat as well as the winner and top four horses from this summer's Extreme Retired Racehorse Makeover Barrel Race held in Ohio.
"We are excited to have this opportunity to highlight the versatility and trainability of the Thoroughbred breed in creating this truly unique event, " says Steuart Pittman. "Not only will this event be fan-friendly and fun to watch, it truly shows that retired racehorses are capable of just about anything you can ask."
The western invasion will take place on Saturday afternoon and evening during the Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium at Pimlico Racecourse. More information and tickets are available online at www.retiredracehorsetraining.org.