One of the most influential horsemen of the Twentieth Century adopted one of the least likely to succeed racehorses this week in order to give the red mare a second chance.
USEA Hall of Famer Denny Emerson, the only rider to have won both a gold medal in Eventing and a Tevis Buckle in endurance, this week welcomed Frosty Lover to his farm.
The famous rider, who trains from his Tamarack Hill Farm in Vermont and Southern Pines, N.C., spotted the luckless racehorse in a photo shared online by Parx Racing’s Turning for Home, and soon decided to make the mare’s day.
Sire: Frost Giant
Dam: Ardent Lover, by Mr. Greeley
Foal date: May 2, 2011Emerson plans to transform the mare, who failed to break her maiden after 22 races, into a competitive sport horse and compete her in October at the Retired Racehorse Project’s annual Thoroughbred Makeover in Kentucky.
Of his decision to support the effort to elevate the image of the retired racehorse in the sport horse realm, Emerson was sanguine.
“I’ve been riding OTTBs since I was in my early 20s. I think Thoroughbreds are primo athletes who, if they’re not injured on the track, can do just about anything,” he says. “Racehorses have already seen and done everything, and make wonderful horses for second careers.”
Emerson adds that the Retired Racehorse Project’s show, which he supports wholeheartedly for its efforts to raise the awareness and value of OTTBs, is the perfect venue to demonstrate the talents of ex-racehorses. He deliberately chose a red Thoroughbred mare —the most difficult OTTBs to re-sell due to a reputation for being fiery and difficult, to debunk that myth.
“My objective is to support the Racehorse Project,” he says, noting that he plans to train his red mare in a low-key manner, without over taxing her. Emerson will chronicle the training on his Tamarack Hill Farm Facebook page.
His decision to retrain the mare, who finished 10th in a 12-horse race at Parx Racing on Nov. 24, is a boon to both the Retired Racehorse Project and Parx Racing’s in-house charity, Turning for home.
Steuart Pittman, founder of the Retired Racehorse Project and the Makeover show series, lauded Emerson.
“Denny was at last year’s Makeover and he understands that the event is all about improving horsemanship, training, and riding skills. That is the work of Denny Emerson’s life and it is a huge honor that he has chosen the platform of the Makeover to share his methods and his insights,” Pittman says.
“Had he not entered a horse we’d have recruited him as a judge. People should pay close attention to his Tamarack Hill Farm Facebook page and not only read his words but also meditate on them. The guy is wise. Trainers should think of him as a virtual coach.”
Danielle Montgomery of Turning for Home, a retirement and re-homing charity at Parx Racing, says Emerson’s decision buoys the effort to find new careers for retired racehorses.
“I think it’s fantastic. Denny is an Olympic rider and he has such a great reputation. It’s great that the two of them, (Frosty Lover and Emerson), can be ambassadors for the OTTBs, and can raise awareness. These are great racehorses that come off the track,” Montgomery says. She notes she was especially pleased he chose a chestnut mare. “The red mares have a bad reputation for being fiery, and they’re the hardest for us to adopt. So we’re thrilled he chose Frosty Lover.”