Icabad Crane, third-place finisher in the 2008 Preakness, continues to travel in world-class sporting company.
The classy gelding belonging to Graham Motion, trainer of 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom, and his wife Anita, is now training—and winning—under the gentle hands and expert prowess of Olympian Phillip Dutton.
Last month, Dutton and Icabad grabbed first place at the Aiken’s Full Gallop Farm Horse Trials, finishing the Beginner Novice C Division with a score of 32.10.
Though it’s too soon to say if Icabad has the right stuff to be a big horse in the Eventing world, the Motions spoke with tremendous pride of the accomplishments their beloved New York-bred bay gelding has made thus far.
Sire: Jump Start
Foal date: April 9, 2005
Highlights: Multiple Graded Stakes placed, winner; 3rd Preakness —2008
Earnings: $585,980 “He’s been a very quick learner,” Graham Motion says in a telephone interview with Off-TrackThoroughbreds.com. “He stepped off the van and took in his first small horse show in stride.”
Anita Motion, who her husband credits as being the driving force to take on the responsibility for Icabad’s post-racing future, says Icabad had a face she saw everyday, and came to love.
“His was one of those faces we’d see over the door, and we’d see him a lot. We’ve worked with him for six years, and he was just lovely; he’s the one everyone wanted to go and pat,” she says. “We always told Earle Mack’s managers that we’d love to have him when he was done. We didn’t want to lose track of him.”
The couple purchased Icabad from Mack in 2013 for $1, according to published reports, and introduced the classy bay to the world-class rider, and family friend, shortly thereafter.
“Phillip’s an extremely talented horseman,” Graham Motion says. “We’d sent several horses to him already, but they didn’t work out. But this horse has a tremendous disposition and is a barn favorite—he’s the kind of horse (exercise riders) would fight over to ride in the morning.”
On top of which, Icabad also exhibited class and intelligence, adds Anita Motion.
“He is so honest. He tries his hardest and he’s so intelligent that he just has that smart look about him,” she says.
Following Icabad’s promising start in Eventing, the couple and the Dutton family will continue to monitor his progress, and reassess in a year’s time. “We always said that with Icabad that we do this for 12 months and then we’d regroup,” Anita Motion says. “If he wasn’t enjoying it, we’d stop.”
Regardless of how Icabad does in his new sport, the Motions will continue to push to create partnerships between race trainers and the Thoroughbred community seeking to help ex-racehorses.
Citing the work of Steuart Pittman, founder of the Retired Racehorse Training Project, Anita Motion says she and her husband plan to add their efforts to the good work already taking place by Pittman and other organizations seeking to re-train Thoroughbreds for new careers.
“We want to find other people that are professionals in dressage, polo, and other sport to promote these horses,” she says.
Graham Motion agrees.
“There are a lot of people doing a lot of good things for horses, and we want to be part of that movement,” he says.
While not all Thoroughbreds off the track are gifted enough to enter training with dual Olympic gold medalist Dutton, this particular off-track Thoroughbred is “pretty unique,” Dutton says in a telephone interview.
“His disposition is very, very settled and quiet. He’s a forward-thinking horse who doesn’t get too wound up,” Dutton says. “He’s very easy to work with.”
Dutton started training Icabad in December. “He’s been a pretty quick study,” he notes.
With one win under their belts, Dutton plans to enter Icabad in another Beginner Novice Event this summer, before moving him up to Novice, and beyond.
13 responses to “3rd in Preakness, Icabad takes 1st as eventer”
[…] (For more on Icabad, see this story.) […]
Just love these stories of second careers, and this one is so exciting. Godspeed Icabad, you are one talented horse!
OTTB’s are truely talented athletes. So many of them can go on to new careers as performance and pleasure horses if they are given the chance. Look at Icabod, he looks so happy to be challenged with something new. May he have a long second career as a sport Thoroughbred.
Thanks for this story. You know there are good people in racing – and this helps make the case. Zenyatta in now on foal watch – another case of an incredible animal who now gives and gives – and is able to do so because of the caring and invested follow-up of those from racing days.
I never ever want to know what life would be without horses! My guy is amazing – and every day is great if I can ride.
Love this. I hope my filly on the track can retire to this. She’s kind of hot for me, but maybe there’s one somewhere that a 70-year-old gal can ride over some gentle cross-country again.
It’s great to see that Icabad is coming along great as an eventer. OTTBs are the best because they can do anything once their racing careers are over.
[…] ago at Full Gallop Farm, where he won his Beginner Novice division on his dressage score of 32.1. Offtrackthoroughbreds.com has a nice story today on how Icabad is […]
SUPER story. I hope others will pass it along to encourage others to give OTTB a home doing what they love best. And that is…riding to please
This is just what I’d expect from a classy guy like Graham Motion. And it’s great to see another TB (especially one with such wonderful bloodlines) in eventing. They once dominated the sport (until the format was changed to make competing easier for Warmbloods).
I sincerely hope Dutton can take him to the upper levels — that sill shine a spotlight on OTTBs, and show the eventing world that TBs are still the best for that discipline.
I have been following Icabad because my g/daughter is an eventer who loves her thoroughbreds. They are so talented, and I am thrilled to see how well Icabad is doing. Awesome that Graham and his wife are so involved in helping these magnificent horses after their racing careers are over. Well done everyone!
It is a great joy to see Icabad-our New York-bred Thoroughbred making a name for himself in the Eventing world! He was a most-beloved figure on the track and now we can cheer him on as he campaigns with one of the most respected and talented competitors in the sport horse world.It says a great about the intelligence and adaptability of this OTTB that he can train with Olympian Phillip Dutton and show promise.It’s a great story and it wouldn’t have happened without the care and guidance of the Motions.They are models of how things should be done in the racing world. If more trainers would follow their lead, we would have many more happy partnerships for our OTTBs! I will be looking forward to watching Icabad and Phillip as they exhibit throughout this year. Icabad has his own FB page if others would like to follow him on his journey.
Thanks Susan for writing about Icabad Crane!
Thank YOU. Now my fingers are crossed (toes too) that Icabad continues to move up the ranks, and best of all, is happy.
So very refreshing to see a great trainer such as Graham
Motion and his wife step up to help this very talented
horse find his second career. If trainers, owners, jockeys and
breeders could get together, we would not have this
massive influx of disposable horses.
Bravo Icabad….. You are an “IT” horse!!!!!