February 5, 2016
Horse Nation: Last year, the TAKE2 Second Career Thoroughbred Program Inc. announced a preliminary schedule that included more than 120 affiliated horse shows nationwide. This year, there are already more than 240 horse shows in 23 states committed to hosting TAKE2 Thoroughbred Hunter and Jumper divisions, and that number is expected to increase. Two major Florida circuits, the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington and HITS in Ocala, have expanded their partnership and will offer TAKE2 classes every week of the 2016 12-week winter season. TAKE2 Thoroughbreds have also been in the spotlight in Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia this month. Click here for the up-to-date schedule. The success of the TAKE2 program was given a huge boost by the introduction of the new USEF-approved C-rated Thoroughbred Hunter and Jumper Divisions in 2015. Last year also marked the unveiling of the TAKE2 Thoroughbred League, a member-based initiative that rewards participating Hunters and Jumpers with the chance to win a total of $30,000 in year-end awards, with prize money paid out to 10th place in each division. More than 160 Thoroughbreds were enrolled in the League in its first season, and the award winners hailed from 13 different states.
January 28, 2016
Wellington, FL…There’s plenty of crossover between our world and the jumper ring this time of the year, with many snowbird eventers hitting up the winter horse show circuit to up their game. Thanks to the TAKE2 Second Career Thoroughbred Program, we’ve now got one more reason to work some some straight-up show jumping into our pre-season schedule. Launched in 2012, TAKE2 funds prize money and awards in hunter and jumper classes restricted to Jockey Club registered Thoroughbreds. The goal is to highlight the success of Thoroughbreds as show horses and help further create a market for OTTBs. Since its inception the Program has developed from a startup initiative offered at just a handful of AA-rated shows in New York, New Jersey and Texas to a still-expanding juggernaut that encompasses 23 states. 2015 was a big year for TAKE2, with a big boost coming from the introduction of the new USEF-approved C-rated Thoroughbred Hunter and Jumper Divisions as well as its introduction of the TAKE2 Thoroughbred League. The League is a member-based initiative that rewards participating members with the chance to win a total of $30,000 in year-end awards.
November 23, 2015
Katy, TX…Stephanie Cook’s goal for the year with Texas Checkmate was to top the Take2 Thoroughbred League’s jumper standings, but a rotational fall from another horse in May resulted in a broken pelvis, a broken C-5 vertebrae and 12 broken ribs and seemingly ended that campaign. But with the help of good friends and a lot of determination, Cook endured 12 weeks of rehab, “Checkers” continued earning points, and she was back in the saddle in time to finish out the season and win the 2015 year-end standings. A fan of Thoroughbreds since her junior days riding project horses from Monmouth Park racetrack (N.J.), there was never any doubt to Cook that they were her breed of choice. “If given any kind of choice, I’ll pick a Thoroughbred first, no doubt, because I understand how they think. I can figure out what makes them tick because I’ve known them my whole life growing up.” Cook’s taken a varied path to become the professional trainer she is today with a barn full of riders ranging from age 5 to nearly 60 in the hunter, jumper and pony rings.
October 28, 2015
The TAKE2 Thoroughbred League, offering $30,000 in year-end awards, today announced the final standings for the 2015 season. The League’s High-Score Hunter was Jeff Ayers’s Scorpio, who bested Scotty Sherman’s Feather by 391 points. The competition in TAKE2’s High-Score Jumper division was closer, with Stephanie Cook’s Texas Checkmate winning over Julie Seraphin’s No Sunday Sales by 104 points. Jeff Ayers and Scorpio would have been the even-money favorites if there had been betting on the race for year-end honors, but Stephanie Cook and Texas Checkmate might have been 50-1 to earn the championship. Cook, seriously injured in a fall in June, miraculously was back in the saddle by September, and Texas Checkmate surged to the front in the last three weeks of the season. “It took a village” to get to the top of the TAKE2 standings, said Cook, who went through 12 weeks of intensive rehab after suffering a shattered pelvis and nine broken ribs in the riding accident. “I couldn’t have done it alone.”
September 8, 2015
The TAKE2 Second Career Thoroughbred Program today announced the qualifying period for the TAKE2 Thoroughbred League’s 2016 season, which will run *Sept. 29, 2015 through Oct. 2, 2016. The qualifying period will apply to TAKE2 Hunters and Jumpers. The TAKE2 Thoroughbred League, a member-based initiative that rewards participating Hunters and Jumpers with the chance to win a total of $30,000 in year-end awards, was launched in 2015. The League attracted 165 members, representing 32 states, in its very first year. “You expect new initiatives to take three years to get off the ground,” TAKE2 President Rick Violette Jr. said. “We were amazed at how quickly the TAKE2 League was embraced by the hunter-jumper community. The goal of the TAKE2 Program is to promote second careers for retired racehorses, and it is gratifying to see the growing enthusiasm for the Thoroughbred in the show ring.” The prestigious Capital Challenge Horse Show will host the presentation of the TAKE2 Thoroughbred League’s 2015 High-Score Hunter and Jumper Awards. The ceremony will be held Sept. 30, 2015 at the Prince George Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD. The TAKE2 League’s 2015 season is winding down. It will be tough to catch Jeff Ayers and Scorpio, who lead the Hunter standings by more than 1,000 points. The Jumper contest, however, will be a battle to the finish, with Julie Seraphin’s No Sunday Sales neck-and-neck with Stephanie Cook’s Texas Checkmate. No Sunday Sales had a 20-point lead as of July 30, but Stephanie Cook, recovering from a devastating spill in late May that resulted in a shattered pelvis and 12 broken ribs, was back in the saddle for the Texas Sporthorse Cup Sept. 2-3, and picked up 22 points to edge to the front with just 17 days left in the season.
September 1, 2015
Saratoga, NY…For trainer Rick Violette, Jr., the realization that the racing industry had a significant problem with Thoroughbred aftercare was distilled in a single afternoon a few years ago in Washington, D.C. In the aftermath of the Barbaro and Eight Belles tragedies, the United States Congress had convened equine welfare hearings, and the final question from the 20-member panel was “What are you doing about retired racehorses?” Violette, who serves as president of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, recalled the leaders of numerous racing industry organizations “tripping over themselves, trying to find an answer. And it was embarrassing, there was no question about it.” After that, Violette concluded, “There was no place to go but up. We were now under a microscope and we were well-deservedly criticized for not paying attention to what horses had in store for them after they finished racing…You always thought you attended to business well until people shined a light on it.” At a day-long summit Tuesday on the issue of retired racehorses hosted in Saratoga by the New York State Gaming Commission, a number of other Thoroughbred stakeholders told similar stories about how the industry realized it had an ever-growing welfare problem. Now, as that acknowledgement and awareness is transitioning through how to effectively address the need for proper racehorse retirement, horsemen, racetracks, regulators, and aftercare coordinators all seem to agree on three key components necessary for continued progress: 1) Sustainable funding; 2) The growth of accredited rehabilitation, retraining and re-homing facilities, and 3) The creation of demand in the general public for second-career Thoroughbreds.
August 1, 2015
Santa Fe, NM…Rick Violette Jr., who began his career in the equine industry in the late 1970s, remembers a time when Thoroughbreds dominated the show ring. “Back then, the best horses in the show jumping world were Thoroughbreds, ” he said. For proof, look no farther than the inductees into the US Show Jumping Hall of Fame: the vast majority are Thoroughbreds. It wasn’t until 20 or so years ago that the tide started turning toward European Warmbloods – and Thoroughbreds began being viewed as “less than.” As a successful Thoroughbred racing trainer and president of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and the national Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, Violette knows that Thoroughbreds may be many things, but “less than” isn’t one of them. That’s why, in 2012, Violette sat down with P.J. Campo, former racing secretary at the Saratoga Race Course in New York, and proposed creating a recognized division at hunter/jumper shows just for Thoroughbreds. At the time, two different shows were hosted in Saratoga, so it seemed like a good place to start. Three years later, the TAKE2 Second Career Thoroughbred Program now offers prize money and awards for Thoroughbred-only classes at more than a hundred hunter/jumper shows across the country.
July 8, 2015
East Dorset, VT…In a dominating performance, Ashley Williams of Colts Neck, NJ, and Little Lion Man were Champion in the TAKE2 Thoroughbred Jumper Division, as well as Reserve Champion in the TAKE2 Thoroughbred Hunter Division during week 1 at the Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, VT. Nine months ago, Williams laid eyes on a young racehorse looking for a chance after the track. Williams saw potential, talent and raw heart, and was immediately sold on Little Lion Man (Lion Heart x Sammy Ammy). “I am assistant to Helen Goddard and we get calls about Thoroughbreds a lot. That’s how we found Little Lion Man – someone gave her a call and thought they had something special,” said Williams. “His scope is what struck me. He didn’t know much, but he was a trier – he jumped everything we pointed him at.”
April 7, 2015
Katy, TX…Many of the horses that come to shows like The Pin Oak Charity Horse Show are imported from overseas and specifically bred for a Hunter/Jumper career. I happened to own a Thoroughbred, who was sired in the Mecca of the horse world, Kentucky, and his bloodlines were meant to promise him a successful career on the racetrack. Thanks to the Take2 program, there are now divisions that showcase the versatility of these Sporthorses that have multiple careers in a single lifetime. My horse, Malloy, holds his own among the more popular Warmbloods, but he also remains competitive against other Thoroughbred hunters, where he is able to compete against his peers. It was through happenstance that I bought Malloy as a youngster from a family who raises and trains horses to be used for foxhunting. He had the look of a foxhunter, which trends toward a solidly built horse. They turned him out with their cross-breds and they would race across the field; Malloy would always trail lengths behind the others. Clearly, he was not suited for the racing career he was intended.
March 21, 2015
Thoroughbred Racing Commentary: He didn’t have the bloodlines to be a stakes winner. By the modest stallion Ecton Park out of a mare that never made it to the starting gate, Strapped earned very little attention in a pair of maiden claiming tests at Laurel Park. But he has the potential to be a major player on the TAKE2 Second Career Thoroughbred hunter/jumper circuit this year–and a trainer with the pedigree to make him a champion. Strapped was the last horse bred by the late, great Hall of Fame trainer Jimmy Croll, and is one small component of the legacy he left to his granddaughter, hunter/jumper trainer Billie Rae Croll. “My grandfather passed away when he was a weanling, and my father [Bill Croll] passed away when he was a 2-year-old,” Billie Rae said. “I inherited Strapped. He’s special–he’s one of the loves of my life.”