Professional and amateur trainers compete for the $100,000 in prize money and to have their horse crowned America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred, on Oct. 27-30.
The rules for horse entries in the Thoroughbred Makeover are fairly stringent ensuring that all horses have an equal amount of time spent in re-training for a second career. Each equine entry must have raced or had a published work after Oct. 1, 2014 but not have started in training for a second career before Jan. 1, 2016 other than a maximum of 15 allowable rides.
The event will showcase 500 thoroughbreds in a variety of disciplines including show hunters, field hunters, barrel racing, dressage, polo, eventing, competitive trail and working ranch. Competitions take place on the first two days followed by demonstrations and workshops presented by top trainers in each discipline focused upon retraining, caring for and selling thoroughbreds off the track. The final day features sales in which approximately half of the horses will be available to interested purchasers.
Fex was born and raised in the Calgary area and said that she has had a lifelong love for the thoroughbred horse. Growing up, Fex was supported by her family in her horse passion and riding interests. Her grandfather owned and raced thoroughbreds and her grandmother “always took me to the track as a kid,” Fex said. She notes that it was also the off track thoroughbreds used in her riding lessons that sparked her dedication to the thoroughbred breed. Now 28, Fex is a graduate of the Olds College Horse Programs and has parlayed her education into full-time employment with horses. She now works at Highfield Stock Farm near Okotoks and helps manage the thoroughbreds at this established racehorse facility.
Applying to The Makeover was appealing to Fex as it is intended to help trainers establish themselves professionally or as amateurs in their discipline.
“Without good trainers, thoroughbred racehorses cannot become great riding horses,” Fex said.
As part of the entry procedure, Fex had to submit a biography and describe her experience and talent and offer evidence as to her probable success with the re-training of an off track thoroughbred.
“I honestly did not expect to be chosen in such an elite group of trainers but it is great that the Retired Racehorse Project (RRP) recognizes that amateurs want to enter. I truly love the thoroughbred and repurposing racehorses, it has been a lifelong passion. I thought this would be a great way to start,” Fex said.
The search for an Alberta-bred horse to take in to the RRP was unsuccessful given the time constraints and stringent re-training rules as, when Lindsey started the search, most horses had already embarked upon their second career training thereby disqualifying them from the competition.
She found Diamond Hunter through the Adena Springs Retirement Program and brought him to Alberta.
“My best moment with Diamond Hunter is when he arrived… We had a true love at first sight. He was the big, beautiful clone of Curlin I had always dreamed of. He was so quiet and willing and I feel like we were meant to be in that moment,” she said.
Diamond Hunter is a five-year-old chestnut Kentucky bred by Hall of Famer Curlin out of the graded stakes winning mare Sister Star by Langfuhr. Defying the promise of his racing pedigree however, Diamond Hunter only had one start on the track at Laurel Park in 2015 finishing in eighth spot before retiring from a race career. Fex believes Diamond Hunter will now be a great ambassador for the off track thoroughbreds as “he is a very versatile guy. He can fit into so many different disciplines and showcases his amazing temperament and willingness to learn. He takes people by surprise as he isn’t the stereotypical type that many off the track thoroughbreds are labeled with.”
The benefits of re-training for the RRP are many for both Fex and Diamond Hunter. Fex is getting an intelligent, willing and athletic partner that she hopes will be her future ride in the hunter or jumper ring or, given his versatility, possibly the cowboy challenge or competitive trail classes. Fex has given Diamond Hunter an opportunity to “showcase himself in a different light. He has come from high hopes and a high price tag as a youngster. There have been big expectations on this guy from the start. Now he can build a life with me and we can take all the lovely attributes that made him unsuccessful as a racehorse and turn it into something positive.”
We wish Lindsey Fex and Diamond Hunter the best of luck as they count down to the Thoroughbred Makeover. Follow the RRP Thoroughbred Makeover on Facebook to get the latest news and results. Fex also has created a Facebook page under the name Curlins Diamond Hunter and established a Go Fund Me page under Lindsey Fex to help with the costs of getting Diamond Hunter to Kentucky.