All branches of Thoroughbred aftercare are working towards a common goal: to ensure a safe transition from racing to second careers for ex-racehorses retiring from the track. However, as outlined in “What Is Aftercare?”, there are many routes to providing that transition and retirement, from permanent sanctuary to non-profit adoption to open market sales.
Key to supporting the increased placement of Thoroughbreds after racing, however, is the marketing of ex-racing Thoroughbreds as competitive and recreational partners to the equestrian industry. Over ten years ago, Steuart Pittman, the founder of the Retired Racehorse Project, realized that no organization was promoting the breed in second careers; such work was beyond the scope of The Jockey Club. With the mentality of “a rising tide lifts all ships,” the RRP was born, leading the market-based approach to Thoroughbred aftercare and driving the demand for these horses after racing.
The RRP’s banner event, the Thoroughbred Makeover, is currently the largest and most lucrative retraining event in the world, and directly impacts hundreds of participating horses each year. Beyond that, however, the Makeover has increased the value of horses retiring from the track, as evidenced by our direct surveying of Makeover participants to track the purchase prices of their horses. Increased value means that horses are less likely to end up in the wrong hands after racing.
The Makeover also inspires a new generation of equestrians of all ages each year to try a Thoroughbred for the first time — or return to the breed after years away. With a combined virtual and in-person audience of thousands all over the world, the Makeover demonstrates what is possible when you combine the versatile and athletic Thoroughbred breed with talented and capable trainers, creating via this showcase event a new market for these horses.
Additionally, the RRP’s core tenet of education for both the racing and equestrian industries has created a library of articles and videos, annual webinar and seminar series, the publication of Off-Track Thoroughbred Magazine, and the production of master classes and training demonstrations all over the country.
The RRP empowers equestrians to specifically seek out the Thoroughbred breed for their next competitive or recreational horse. Our work has transformed Thoroughbred aftercare for the better, driving demand and creating a market for the breed after racing. It’s this unique angle that sets the RRP apart among the industry.