From Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) contender to low level claimer, Advice has been given a second chance to find a new calling in life through New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program.
And, once he’s finished his rehabilitation at the organization, Advice will be looking for a forever home.
What better way than a blog on Derby Day to highlight this gelding and the generous band of supporters that helped him achieve a well-deserved retirement.
I caught up with Anna Ford, executive director of the organization, about the son of Chapel Royal last week, and she reported he had settled in nicely to the Lexington facility.
Advice, now happily retired at New Vocations, photo courtesy of New Vocations
“He’s in really good condition with good weight,” said Ford, who added the gelding’s only ailment is an old bowed tendon on which he had been running.
Advice attracted a following when he captured the 2009 Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. III) for Kenny Troutt's WinStar Farm, but then fell from the public eye after finishing a distant 13th in that year’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). Over the next two years, the gelding was claimed by two different owners and—as we’ve heard many times before—dropped down to lower and lower ranks.
But Advice had several supporters looking out for him, including Ford. A few days before Advice was entered in a $3,000 claiming race in March at Turf Paradise, Ford decided to do some research to find out if there were any Kentucky Derby contenders since 2005 that were still running.
“I saw that Advice was entered that Sunday,” said Ford. “So I picked up the phone to call Elliot (Walden, president/CEO and racing manager of WinStar), and he said, ‘I just bought the horse this morning.’ ”
Ironically, Walden had heard about Advice’s situation from a group of supporters started by Jason Litt of Litt Bloodstock, who rallied for Advice’s retirement via Facebook. Upon Litt’s prompting, racing fans and industry members from all over the country contributed financially to the gelding’s cause.
Supporters included Byron Rogers of Performance Genetics, Bob Feld of Bob Feld Bloodstock, trainer Jared Brown, Barry and Shari Eisaman’s Equine Services, farm owner Cass Dewey; and transportation companies Brookledge, Sallee Horse Vans, and H.E. Sutton, who agreed to ship Advice to Lexington at no charge.
Advice’s rehabilitation at New Vocations will be covered by WinStar StableMates, WinStar’s Thoroughbred fan club (stablemates.winstarfarm.com).
After Ford called Walden about Advice, they worked out a deal for him to be sent to New Vocations, which has successfully re-homed more than 4,000 retired racehorses since 1992.
“He’s what you would think of a Kentucky Derby contender; he’s a class horse,” said Ford. “You can tell he’s been there, done that. He’s very confident. He does seem to like a job. He goes out (to his paddock) and within an hour, he wants to come back in.”
Ford thinks Advice is fit and willing to take on another job in his retirement. He may not ever become a champion eventer, but he is more than a capable riding horse.
“He’s not a ‘10’ mover, but he’s not a bad mover, so I think he’s going to be versatile,” said Ford. “I think he could do anything at a low level without a question. He would be a good horse for someone that likes to do low-level dressage, jumpers, or hunters."
Ford said the more New Vocations works with Advice, the better idea they’ll get of the areas in which he will excel and who would be best suited to be his new owner. “We’re going to be looking at (adoption) applicants case-by-case,” she explained.
“We want to put him in a place where he’s got the best possibilities to succeed in whatever second career—whether it’s foxhunting, pleasure riding, etc. The best situation would be somebody that has experience…not that he’s a hard horse to handle, but we want somebody that knows, appreciates, and works with Thoroughbreds that will appreciate who he is.
“Secondly, (the adoptee) should be someone that’s going to be financially able to care for him and have a facility set up that can help him adjust from being a stall baby to being turned out.”
Advice already made a post-retirement appearance at the Thoroughbreds For All Education Symposium in Lexington April 28. The evening celebrated the versatility of the retired racehorse while raising $10,000 to support two worthy charities.
The event, which was sponsored by New Vocations and the Retired Racehorse Training Project, attracted more than 300 Thoroughbred enthusiasts.
Highlights from the evening included two-time World Champion Bruce Davidson alongside Rolex veterans Dorothy Crowell and Cathy Wieschoff and veterinarian Dr. Steve Allday evaluating the potential of recently retired racehorses available for adoption through New Vocations.
Hall of Fame Jockey Chris McCarron and two of his students from the North American Racing Academy demonstrated how racehorses are ridden and how jockeys develop skills that all equestrians should learn. Further demonstrations included a special appearance by the 1994 World Equestrian Games silver medalist and 1998 top-placed American at Rolex, Molokai, a Kentucky-bred Thoroughbred.
Eight Thoroughbreds available for adoption were used in the presentations, including Advice.
Advice doing a demonstration at the Thoroughbreds for All Educational Symposium, photo courtesy of New Vocations
“Our goal for the event was to promote retired racehorses for second careers through providing an evening of educational yet entertaining sessions led by industry leaders of both the Thoroughbred racing and equestrian world,” explained Ford. “We definitely reached that goal and more. We have already received requests for future events.”
Those interested in adopting Advice or any other Thoroughbred at New Vocations should contact the facility through www.horseadoption.com.