The 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.
Thoroughbred in Training: Mandla ("Ziggy")
Breeding: 2009, b., g., Cetewayo out of Emily Wild, by Activist.
Bred in Pennsylvania by Judith M. Barrett.
Last Raced: 11/8/12 at Penn National
Makeover Trainer: Billie Rae Croll of Lexington, VA.
Billie Rae is the granddaughter of Hall of Fame trainer Warren A. "Jimmy" Croll (pictured left with W. G. Christmas at the 1973 MHBA Yearling Show), a longtime fixture of the Mid-Atlantic industry. Most notably, Jimmy Croll trained 1994 Horse of the Year Holy Bull, although his career extends back to 1940 and includes such horses as Parka, Housebuster, and Bet Twice. "The best thing about my grandfather," says Billie Rae, "was that he unselfishly shared his successes with his family. My brother and I were always brought along to every major race we wished to attend and he always took the time out to answer our questions."
Growing up in a racing family, Billie Rae learned to gallop racehorses and navigate the Hunter/Jumper ring with off-the-track thoroughbreds from her mother, Anne Russek, who had always believed in the potential of ex-racehorses to excel in new disciplines. Billie Rae claims "up until I was about the age of 6 I thought there were only 2 types of horses. Thoroughbreds and everything else was called a pony!"
Now, Billie Rae's BRC Stables keeps an average of ten Thoroughbred ex-racehorses in training at a time and actively competes with them in a variety of disciplines.
After a few misadventures with her first two Makeover choices, Billie Rae turned to her own barn for the perfect Makeover horse. Ziggy had been purchased from trainer Stephanie Tate at Penn National after his final race in November 2012, and Billie Rae says she "was drawn to him for both his size (17.1hh) and his laid back demeanor."
Ziggy, who has been enjoying life as a pasture ornament since last December, is now in full retraining mode, and has matured from gangly ex-racehorse to polished Thoroughbred prospect. "Ziggy has developed a funny little personality," says Billie Rae, "and really enjoys the attention he has been receiving. I think he knows he is part of something special and is trying to do his part to show that OTTB's have a life after the track. " In every blog post, Billie Rae seems happily astounded at her luck to have a horse like Ziggy to work with for the Thorougbred Makeover. "It is always a pleasure to work with a horse who truly enjoys his job." Well, second job.
Watch: Ziggy's first time on the Cross Country course
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!