A veterinarian checks heart rate at the Arrival Exam for the 2019 Thoroughbred Makeover. Photo by Giulia Garcia.
First instituted at the 2019 Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium, presented by Thoroughbred Charities of America, the Arrival Exam requires each horse to have proof of current vaccinations, vitals (temperature, respiration and heart rate) within a normal range, be scanned for a microchip that has been registered with The Jockey Club, pass a walking soundness exam, and score a four or higher on the Henneke Body Condition Scale (the industry standard for assessing a horse’s condition and fat coverage).
The Finale Jog was originally intended to debut at the 2020 Thoroughbred Makeover, which was postponed due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Now instituted for the first time for both the 2020 and 2021 competition years, the Finale Jog will ask the top five finishers in each of the ten disciplines offered to present their horses in-hand at the jog for a ground jury consisting of at least two veterinarians and the chief steward the day prior to competing in their respective discipline championships.
“Keeneland has long been a global leader in Thoroughbred racing and sales, and through their support of aftercare and welfare initiatives like the Arrival Exam and Finale Jog, they demonstrate their dedication and commitment to the breed,” said Jen Roytz, executive director of the RRP. “Their support offers credence to our hundreds of competitors who invest their time, effort, money and skill in transforming these former racing athletes into viable sport horses.”
A volunteer scans for a microchip at the Arrival Exam for the 2019 Thoroughbred Makeover. Photo by Giulia Garcia.
To help participating trainers prepare their horses for the Thoroughbred Makeover, the RRP provides educational resources throughout the year leading up to the event, including interactive webinars with veterinarians and nutritionists as well as educational videos and articles. The RRP’s consulting veterinarian, Dr. Shannon Reed, also makes herself available as a resource for trainers throughout the year, answering questions and helping to connect competitors with appropriate resources and support in their local equestrian communities.
“Equine safety and welfare remain a top priority for Keeneland, and our sponsorship of the Arrival Exam and Finale Jogs is another opportunity to strengthen that commitment,” Keeneland President and CEO Shannon Arvin said. “We are proud to support the Thoroughbred Makeover and its work to showcase the talents of former racehorses who have entered the next phase of their careers.”
The 2021 Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium will be a double competition, with horses from the postponed 2020 event competing in their own classes alongside the regularly scheduled 2021 competition year. The combined event will take place October 12 through 17 and will include two Finale days on Saturday and Sunday. In total, over 800 trainer applications were accepted between 2020 and 2021, and as many as 900 horses could be competing this October.
In addition to competition, the Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium will once again feature the ASPCA Makeover Marketplace, a unique horse shopping experience in which more than 150 of the well-started Thoroughbreds competing in the event will be available for purchase or adoption. This year, the Marketplace is also open to listings for 2022 Makeover prospects from non-profit aftercare organizations. The Makeover will also include seminars on topics pertinent to transitioning racehorses to new disciplines, the Thoroughbred Aftercare Summit, the Master Class (a racehorse retraining clinic), and a vendor fair.
About the Retired Racehorse Project: The Retired Racehorse Project (RRP) is a 501(c)3 charitable organization working to increase demand for off-track Thoroughbreds in the equestrian world. In addition to putting on the Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium, the world’s largest retraining competition for recently retired racehorses, the organization also publishes Off-Track Thoroughbred Magazine, hosts off-track Thoroughbred retraining clinics around the country, maintains the Thoroughbred Sport Tracker (the internet’s only user-driven database tracking second career talent and accomplishments of registered Thoroughbreds) and presents programing at major horse expos across the country. Visit RRP online at therrp.org.
About Keeneland: Since its first race meet began 85 years ago on Oct. 15, 1936, the Keeneland Association has devoted itself to the health and vibrancy of the Thoroughbred industry. The world’s largest Thoroughbred auction house, Keeneland conducts four sales a year, in January, April, September and November, and presents online auctions through the Keeneland Digital Sales Ring. Graduates of Keeneland sales dominate racing across the globe at every level. In April and October, Keeneland offers some of the highest caliber and richest Thoroughbred racing in the world. Keeneland hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships in 2015 and 2020 and is holding the event again on Nov. 4-5, 2022. Uniquely structured, Keeneland is a privately held company with a not-for-profit mission that returns its earnings to the industry and the community in the form of higher purses and millions of dollars donated in support of horse industry initiatives and charitable contributions for education, research, and health and human services throughout Central Kentucky. Keeneland also maintains the Keeneland Library, a world-renowned public research institution with the mission of preserving information about the Thoroughbred industry. To learn more, visit Keeneland.com.