The Retired Racehorse Project announced today that a new special award will be offered at the 2018 Thoroughbred Makeover, taking place Oct. 4-7 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY.

The New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, New York Racing Association, and New York Thoroughbred Breeders Inc. are jointly sponsoring the $5,000 Empire State Success Story Award, which will go to the top-placed New York-bred at the Makeover.

“Racehorses are first and foremost athletes, and they excel at second careers,” said Rick Schosberg, chair of the NYTHA Aftercare Committee. “It is truly amazing how versatile they are. We want to put the spotlight on our New York-breds at the Makeover and show everyone that our horses have long and fruitful lives after they leave the track.

“We are dedicated to taking care of our horses, whether they bankrolled a million dollars or never earned a dime. That is our duty, as horsemen,” he added.

Forty-one New York-breds were entered in the 2017 Thoroughbred Makeover, competing in all 10 of the Makeover disciplines: barrels, competitive trail, dressage, eventing, field hunters, freestyle, polo, ranch work, show hunters and show jumpers. New York was second only to Kentucky as far as the number of entrants bred in the state.

“The Thoroughbred Makeover is yet another prime example of our industry establishing second careers for our horses,” NYTB Executive Director Jeff Cannizzo said. “They never stopping giving to us and I’m glad to say we strive to give back to them with programs like this. It’s wonderful to see so many New York-breds being retrained for these various other disciplines after racing with the support from our industry.”

The Empire State Success Story Award will be presented to the New York-bred that earns the highest percentage of the total possible score in any of the 10 disciplines offered. Almost 800 trainers have been accepted to compete in the 2018 event.

Many trainers have not yet purchased the horse they intend to compete, and the cash award will offer an extra incentive to shop for an eligible mount bred in New York. Any Jockey Club-registered Thoroughbred that raced or had a published work on or after July 1, 2016, is eligible to compete in the Makeover, as long as the horse did not start retraining for a second career prior to Dec. 1, 2017.

Thoroughbred breeders in New York now join those in Louisiana, Pennsylvania and Maryland in honoring horses bred in those states with special awards at the Makeover. For a list of all the special awards announced so far, visit www.tbmakeover.org/special-awards.

The Empire State Success Story Award at the Makeover is just one of many aftercare initiatives for New York Thoroughbreds, including the TAKE2 Program, which promotes second careers as hunters and jumpers via prize money and awards, and NYTHA’s Take The Lead Thoroughbred Retirement Program, which has placed more than 400 horses retiring from the NYRA tracks with organizations accredited by the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance.

In all, NYTHA contributed more than $488,000 to support Thoroughbred aftercare in 2017.

“The horses give us their all on the track, and we are obligated to give it our all when it is time for them to retire from racing,” NYTHA Executive Director Andy Belfiore said. “For New York’s racing industry, aftercare is not an afterthought.”

Retired Racehorse Project (RRP) is a 501(c)3 charitable organization working to facilitate placement of Thoroughbred ex-racehorses in second careers by increasing demand for them in the marketplace and inspiring equestrians to provide the training that secures their futures. RRP offers online directories, educational resources, and publishes Off-Track Thoroughbred Magazine.