Tag Archives: racehorse retirement

Australia’s Melbourne Cup: Seeing Thoroughbred Legends in Action and Retired

You have to love a country which stops everything for a horse event, and in this case Australia’s Melbourne Cup Day definitely qualifies as a candidate for My Perfect Nation. The Melbourne Cup, held in Australia’s spring (North America’s autumn) is popularly known as “The Race That Stops a Nation.” A public holiday in Victoria, the rest of Australia tends to take a 3 PM break to party, bet on the horses, and simply enjoy fast horses doing what they do best.

Yes, I was definitely born on the wrong continent.

Past Melbourne Cup winner Brew (now at Living Legends) and Doriemus on parade. Photo: Chris Phutully/Flickr

Past Melbourne Cup winner Brew (now at Living Legends) and Doriemus on parade. Photo: Chris Phutully/Flickr

One thing that’s certainly on my list if when I visit Australia is Living Legends: The International Home of Rest for Champion Racehorses. This retirement farm is literally right next to the Melbourne Airport, located on more than 1,500 acres of bush-land (that’s Australian-speak for semi-urban wilderness) is where some of Australia’s greatest champion racehorses have been retired to live in comfort.

Here you can meet Melbourne Cup winners like Efficient, Brew, Rogan Josh and Zipping. You’ll  also find a dozen other legends of the turf, such as the flashy chestnut sprint champion Apache Cat, or two-time Horse of the Year Silent Witness, who broke Cigar’s famous record of 16 consecutive wins in the 2005 Queen’s Jubilee Silver Cup.

Living Legends maintains a fun special events calendar, but you can join them just about any time of year for a tour to meet the horses, plus a walk through the bushlands (they have a mob of wild kangaroos!) and the opportunity to take tea at Woodlands Historic Park.

This year the race, which is just shy of two miles and for 3-year-olds and up, is on Tuesday, November 1st. With a purse of over $6 million Australian dollars, it’s one of the richest races in the world, edged out only by the Dubai World Cup and the Japan Cup. It’s certainly a popular betting race, and if you want to try your luck, you can get the latest on Melbourne cup betting at William Hill.


Of course, a race like this is celebrated with a over-the-top pageantry and excitement. The Melbourne Cup Carnival showcases the best horses in racing with multiple stake races, plus events celebrating everything from high fashion to family. There’s even a parade right through downtown Melbourne featuring jockeys, trainers, celebrity guests, and past winners of the Melbourne Cup. It’s truly a festival of the Thoroughbred horse!

The more I see and hear about Melbourne Cup, the more I want to add it to my dream Australia itinerary. If seeing the best racehorses in the world, both in action and after retirement, is on your bucket list, it’s hard to see how you could do much better.



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Have You Used Thoroughbred Connect?

Thoroughbred Connect

Thoroughbred Connect is an emergency-call-card for racehorses.

In 2011, I wrote here about the Jockey Club’s Thoroughbred Connect, a web site that was designed to allow fans (or concerned parties) the ability to attach their contact information to a horse’s registered name. The idea was that if you were watching a horse and wanted to purchase or take some sort of responsibility for him after he was finished racing, the owner or trainer could just log into Thoroughbred Connect, pull up the horse’s name, and pick up the phone and give you a call.

What a great idea!

So, has it worked?

According to this article in the Daily Racing Form:

A year and a half into the project, more than 1,600 people have signed onto Thoroughbred Connect, and more than 400 horses have benefited from the program, according to Kristin Leshney, legal associate with The Jockey Club, who helped develop the platform.

400 horses have benefited from Thoroughbred Connect. Do you know one of those horses?

I had my name down for four different horses, and of those four, I only know where one of them is. I’m always hoping someone will get in touch with me, though. It’s the best way I know to permanently attach my name to their names. It’s like an “in case of emergency” card for a racehorse.

How about you? Have you had luck? Have you been disappointed? Are you still waiting? Are you one of the owners of the 400 Thoroughbred Connect Success Stories? We want to know.

A writer is looking for stories of people who have used Thoroughbred Connect — successfully or unsuccessfully — to be used in a racing publication. Contact her at patti@davismedpr.com or DM on Twitter @shuveeIL if you’ve got something to say.

I really, really wanted Thoroughbred Connect to work. I still think it can. So if you have something to share, please do so!


Filed under Jockey Club, Media Coverage, Retirement Options

Redefining the OTTB conversation

This post was originally published by Jennifer Montfort at jenmontfort.com. Jen is a Thoroughbred enthusiast and works with CANTER NE in Boston to get Thoroughbreds on the track to their new careers. 

I just spent a good chunk of the evening catching up on the trainer’s blogs over at the Retired Racehorse Trainer Challenge. Awesome way to spend an evening, right?

What I love most about the trainer challenge is that it’s incredibly straightforward and really speaks to what these horses can do.  We learn about the process of transitioning a horse from the track to a new career. There’s no fluff, just a straightforward examination of an individual Thoroughbred’s strengths, weaknesses and abilities.

Ryan Gosling Equestrian, CANTER

The CANTER website is for shopping amazing prospects, not defeated wrecks. So make a night of it!

How refreshing. It seems as though the conversation is changing somehow; that we’re moving away from the note of surprise in success stories about Thoroughbreds. Up until now they mostly seem to follow the theme of the warrior overcoming adversity and coming out on the other side, triumphant.

I’m glad that these stories exist. I gobble each and every OTTB story out there because hey, they prove my point, Thoroughbreds are awesome. The conversation so far has helped raise awareness of the value of OTTBs, leading us to be on the precipice of really making an impact in Thoroughbred aftercare. But I can’t help but think that by framing the conversations in this manner we’re doing a huge disservice to the breed in the long term.

Unfortunately we’ve all dealt with the very real problem of horses shipped directly to the kill pen, of horses having to be bailed and of broken down horses dumped on people. Hopefully, we’ll hear that story less and less with more attention paid to aftercare and with more human connections realizing the value in working with some of the many organizations out there.

What’s frustrating is that more often than not, that sense of desperation of the rescued Thoroughbred seems to fall on their not-so-desperate counterparts. And it’s clear that as long as that perception is around, more often than not the response from people who aren’t familiar with racing or the Thoroughbred as a breed will have their first thought of a Thoroughbred be a passive: “Oh, poor dears, we need to save them and MAYBE we’ll get a good horse out of it.” I want to hear a straightforward: “I’m looking for an excellent prospect, let’s see what’s available out there on a Thoroughbred retirement site.”

It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that a horse successfully transitioned off of the track into a new career. The horse world shouldn’t be shocked—shocked!—that a Thoroughbred is a beginner horse, or doing dressage, or galloping a cross country course, or adapting well as an “A” circuit hunter. The right reaction to these stories should be one that champions of the breed are already familiar with:  “Well, OF COURSE he was out showing a month after he left the track, he’s a Thoroughbred. Duh.” These horses are smart, athletic and noble—and for centuries have been the representation of speed, grace and power. Let’s honor that. Instead of the shock of success, let’s see the thrill of expectations being met.

We’re well on our way to making this a fabulous year for the OTTB. To accomplish that we’ll need to see more industry support for aftercare, more trainers retiring their horses when they are sound enough for a viable career afterwards and more work on a whole host of other initiatives.  But it’s really up to those closest to the cause to start redefining the tone of the conversation.


Filed under Media Coverage, Retired Racehorse Trainer Challenge, Retirement Options, Success Stories

Progress in Racehorse Retirement – Forbes

Over at Forbes.com, Teresa Genaro of Brooklyn Backstretch has written a piece about the uptick in racehorse retirement programs which have been initiated by the racing industry itself.

Despite being splintered into many pieces, run by state wagering boards and always in competition for each others’ breeders, racing dates, and betting dollars, the racing industry as a whole is still making tentative steps towards fixing its horrendous record in the retirement game. It’s no longer just up to the adoption charities to actively seek out the trainers at the track and ask them for their retirees. Now they’re actually putting some effort into it. Thank goodness!

The racing and breeding industries have a lot of work to do before we can say that every Thoroughbred that’s bred to race is assured of a safe home. But it’s no longer acceptable to pretend that aftercare isn’t an issue, no longer acceptable to decide not to care, not to be involved, and that prodigious culture shift is something to celebrate.

Amen! Thank goodness for organizations like Adena Springs, who have been retraining their own horses for some time, and paved the way for all the new programs that are popping up.

Go and read the article here:

Progress in Racehorse Retirement – Forbes.

And don’t forget to leave a comment. So that they know we’re watching them. 🙂


Filed under Media Coverage, Outside Sites, Retirement Options