The Hampton Classic Horse Show has joined with the New York Racing Association (NYRA) in an effort to attract and honor Thoroughbred sport horses at its star-studded event this summer.
On Aug. 28, a Thoroughbred incentive prize will be offered by NYRA during competition at one of the largest outdoor horse shows in the United States, doubling winnings earned by Thoroughbreds in Local Hunter divisions, the $10,000 Marders Local Hunter Derby, and the $30,000 Speed Challenge, according to Shanette Cohen, executive director of the Hampton Classic Horse Show and NYRA Vice President of Operations Martin Panza.
“This seemed like a natural show for us,” Panza says. “This is the first year we’ve participated in the Hampton Classic. We thought, let’s get involved in these shows and put some money out there where people who own Thoroughbreds can come and participate. We’re hoping to begin to attract riders and horses … it’s not where we are today with this show, but where we’ll be five years from now.”
The Thoroughbred sport horse may currently lack presence at the Hampton Classic today, but the noble breed has made a lasting impact on the many at the Hampton Classic, including the executive director, who once owned an OTTB, and several board members who wistfully recalled some of their best memories of their long-ago Thoroughbreds.
“When I first announced the partnership to my board, everyone was really excited about it,” Cohen says. “They all started remembering the Thoroughbreds they had owned. One of our board members said her first seven horses were Thoroughbreds.”
The point of the partnership is to highlight the capabilities of the Thoroughbred sport horse, and perhaps sway a prospective buyer to give a chance to an ex-racehorse, Cohen says.
“I had a great OTTB I bought after college with a friend of mine. We got a 17-hand Thoroughbred, trained him and ended up in the 3-6 jumpers. He was such a safe, steady-Eddie kind of horse you could do just about anything with him. We called him Dancing Bear.”
And while the Thoroughbred sport horse lost ground to imported Warmbloods, a good Thoroughbred can still hold its own and win ribbons, and an ex-racehorse Thoroughbred is a noble breed deserving of a second career, and second chance, she says.
“NYRA reached out to us and explained that they wanted to play a role in the racehorse’s next career,” she says. “It’s a natural step for the two disciplines (racing and horse shows) to forge a relationship because racehorses can be competitive after they’re done with their first career.”
Highlighting the breed at a show frequented by high-level guests ranging from Olympic veterans to celebrities such as Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel and Jennifer Lopez, will hopefully add to the positive buzz being generated about the worth and the value of the off track Thoroughbred, she adds.
“NYRA cares a great deal about what happens to those horses after they leave the track, and we want to promote them for a second career,” he says. “If people want to give a Thoroughbred a chance, NYRZ will help them by boosting the purses.”
* Those interested in competing their Thoroughbred at the Hampton Classic are invited to visit: http://www.hamptonclassic.com. Entries must be complete by July 22.