Clubhouse Q&A: Totally Thoroughbred Show

One of many participants in the Totally Thoroughbred Show at Pimlico, where riders of all ages rode ex-racehorses. Photos by Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club

One of many participants in the Totally Thoroughbred Show at Pimlico, where riders of all ages rode ex-racehorses. Photos by Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club

This interview was originally published on July 18, 2012.

When Maryland Jockey Club Racing Secretary Georganne Hale helped dream up the idea of the Totally Thoroughbred Show at the Pimlico racetrack last Saturday, she thought, at best, she’d attract a total of 105 horses to complete in seven classes, each with 10- to-15 horses.

Oh how she miscalculated!

In a good way.

Some 300 horses and more than 800 entrants hauled into Pimlico July 14th to strut their stuff in the steamy Maryland heat last weekend. Sleek and gleaming, yet cool in the “big atmosphere,” former racehorses gently carried tots in lead-line classes, and competed in “walk/trot” and “trotting-over-fences” classes with older riders.

“It gave me chills,” Hale says. “Watching all the Thoroughbreds standing there asleep, at the end of a lead rope, held by children—I felt proud of the horses, and thrilled to know that that many people in the Maryland area have ex-racehorses that they show, foxhunt, or take out on trail rides.”

The first Totally Thoroughbred Show was a smashing success, so much so that streamed live on HRTV, and it raised thousands of dollars in proceeds for three horse charities: Angel Acres Horse Haven Rescue, Mid Atlantic Horse Rescue and Thoroughbred Placement Resources. caught up with Georganne for a quick Q&A, for this week’s Readers Clubhouse.

Q: Georganne, Social Media horse sites were abuzz about the Totally Thoroughbred show at Pimlico. Did that online excitement translate to the show grounds?

Lead line class at the Totally Thoroughbred Show at Pimlico.

Lead line class at the Totally Thoroughbred Show at Pimlico.

It most certainly did translate to the show grounds. I was so overwhelmed with entries. I never thought in a million years that we would have had that many entries for the show. It just proves that Thoroughbreds are making a comeback in the horse show world.

Q: Approximately how many ex-racehorse Thoroughbreds participated in the show, and  who were some of the grand-prize winners?

We had 300 different horses participate, and over 800 entries. Maryland trainer, Hugh McMahon’s daughter, was one of the winners in the “Lead Line” class. Grand Champion was a horse named “Houston”. He was an un-named Thoroughbred. His show name is Houston. We had A. P. Indys, Giant Causeways, Partner Heros and many others.

Q: Was this the first show of its kind at Pimlico, and, will there be more?

This was the first “Totally Thoroughbred” horse show that was actually held at a racetrack. I did hear my boss speaking to a television station, suggesting that this will probably be two days next year. I assume that means, there will be more!

Q: How did you and your friend Stacie Clark-Rogers develop the idea for the show?

Stacie runs the Adena Springs retirement in Canada, and she’d been going around to horsemen trying to generate support for ex-racehorses, when she came to Maryland to talk to my horseman group. This was about a year ago.

While we were sitting around talking, we both agreed that it would be fun to have an all-Thoroughbred Show. And that’s how it started. I asked my boss, Tom Chuckas, the president of the Maryland Jockey Club about it, and he was all for it!

Q: How did the horse show community respond once you started advertising the show?

Lots of smiles the day of the show.

Lots of smiles the day of the show.

It was a total surprise when we started getting pre-entries. The response was tremendous! So many people responded, I was afraid to answer my phone! I wish entries for actual racing were as good as this was!

My original goal was to have a nice, little show. I thought we’d have seven classes, and if I’m lucky, we’d get 10 or 15 in a class. And my plan was to get people in and out of there like zip-zip-zip so they don’t have to hang around a show all day.

Q: Instead, it was an unmitigated success. What does this mean to you?

I’m still overwhelmed. It did give me chills to see that many ex-racehorses standing around waiting to show. Just to know that that many people had Thoroughbreds, and that they were all from the Mid-Atlantic area!

I looked around and thought, so this is where all my racehorses have gone. They’re here, showing.

13 responses to “Clubhouse Q&A: Totally Thoroughbred Show”

  1. Victoria McCullough

    My offtrack TB was six times American Grand Prix Association Speed Champion at The Winter Equestrian Festival and never failed to give me 100 % everyday
    the idea of an all TB show is just so wonderful I am in love with this idea and would love to host a year end Final at my farm in Wellington Florida

    Thank you for sharing this , this is just what we need in America to recycle the greatest breed in The World .


  2. fairfield farm

    Do they have to race? Just because they are a TB. The Champion was bred to race but had no speed. So What is wrong with not racing them and not breaking down a horse that just didn’t have that talent. Is he or they any less a tb horse. No. I think the point of the show and why so many people showed up was Georgeann and the LOVE of the TB breed. Having worked and foaled my own and for many other big farms it is real horseman that know what and where a horses talent lies. My racing cap is off to the people who put on this show and I can’t wait to show on the great, wonderful grounds of pimlico next year. WHERE MANY FAMOUS HORSES HAVE WALKED!

  3. Susie

    I just can’t get over that picture of the little girl on the beautiful grey. That is absolutely precious!

  4. TBDancer

    Can’t add a thing to what anyone else wrote here. Loved the story, the photos, the kids AND the horses. This is the sort of publicity OTTBs and the racing industry in general needs right now.

  5. amelia roberts

    WOW!I also LOVE your story you wrote! That’s what I call true HORSEMANSHIP!

  6. Highgunner


    Thank you for the article. Especially enjoyed reading about “Watching all the Thoroughbreds standing there asleep, at the end of a lead rope, held by children”. Thoroughbreds are not just very athletic, but they are very social and can be enjoyed by all members

    In order to change the perception of many in the public, racing needs to market the breed (not the sport) and the great personal connections people have with their thoroughbreds. Once people understand the breed, they will also enjoy racing if done with the horses welfare as the priority. I like to say that our volunteers come out for the cause and then fall in love with the breed. Many of these volunteers then understand that racing is “in their blood” of many of these horses and then view racing as just one of their many potential careers. Our mascot, Highgunner, was a rescue as a two year old and went to the track to eventually win. He still loves to go out and gallop on the 1/2 mile track at the barn. It is sooo fun to ride a horse with his passion for running, jumping or any job and he is a testimony to the true nature of the breed.

    Ken Lian, DVM
    President Thoroughbred Education Foundation

  7. Lisa Suphan

    This show was an astounding success – but are we really surprised?! Those of us who love OTTB/TBs all knew better than to think only a few dozen would show up!! 😉
    As a supporter and advocate of OTTBs and as the owner of an unraced TB, I believe that regardless of who the overall champion is of the day, I will be more than proud to ride along side any and all TBs alike in support of the breed as a whole at the next all Thoroughbred show in NY! Congrats to Georganne, to Pimlico, the state of Maryland and to the rescue organizations that benefitted from everyones efforts to make the show such a success.

  8. Michelle

    Ownerof3OTTBs – I think the point is that horses registered with the jockey club can do more than just race & that they are a valuable resource for all sorts of disciplines. I am really excited and thankful that this year it seems like the throughbred folks (racing and others) are putting it in high gear to market these amazing animals as multi-talented. This just means less waste! And that is an awesome thing.

  9. Fran

    The reason a lot of folks came to this show was Georganne. She is a trail blazer- she started the Lady Legends Race held at Pimlico on Black Eyed Susan Day. You Rock Georganne! We all luv ya!! (people and TB’s alike!!)
    We cannot wait for next year!!

  10. Ownerof3OTTBs

    Sorry, but not all of your racehorses end up being show horses. It would have been a proud moment for OTTB fans if the end-of-day Champion had been a horse off the track. For a show that showcased and promoted how ex-racehorses could excel in a second career, the champion never once stepped foot on a track. What mesage does that send? This show is a good cause for great charities – let’s demonstrate what those ex-racehorses can accomplish!

    1. Kara

      My horse was Reserve Grand Champion and he raced quite a bit!

  11. Shirley VerHoef

    Thoroughbreds are the most wonderful horses. Their ancestors appear in the improvement of so many of the breeds. They are loveable and kind if they are treated fairly. And some even if they are not.

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