RRP Makeover Data Reflects Larger OTTB Population

By: Erin Shea, @BH_EShea

The Retired Racehorse Project released data this month on its 509 off-track Thoroughbred entrants for the upcoming Thoroughbred Makeover presented by Thoroughbred Charities of America Oct. 5-8 at the Kentucky Horse Park. RRP's Steuart Pittman said the 500 horses are representative of the larger population of U.S. Thoroughbreds who are retired from racing but are not being used as breeding stock. 

The group of horses have also come off the track fairly recently, since to be eligible to compete in the 2017 Makeover, a horse must have made a start or have a published work after July 1, 2015 and have not started retraining in a second career before Dec. 1, 2016. Former jockey Rosie Napravnik rides Dare Me at the 2015 Thoroughbred Makeover - Kevin Thompson
Former jockey Rosie Napravnik rides Dare Me at the 2015 Thoroughbred Makeover. Photo: Kevin Thompson

The report details some basic information about the OTTBs—such as age, earnings, lifetime starts, state where they were foaled—but also includes the track where they made their last start, which Pittman said is especially telling. 

"As always there is a high percentage of Kentucky-breds, but very few that last raced at a premier track," he said. "These are horses primarily that came out of the lower claiming ranks. Most were purchased directly from racing owners or their track connections, and all have big futures ahead. It's exciting to see so many people involved in rehoming these horses."

According to the data, approximately 30% (152 horses) of the 509 entrants were bred in Kentucky. With the Kentucky-breds representing the largest group, New York-breds came in second with 58 and Florida-breds were a close third with 54.

From the entire group, 50 horses made their last start at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course; 35 from Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack, & Resort; and 27 from Finger Lakes Racetrack. Mahoning Valley Race Course and Parx Racing, with 26 entrants each, rounded out the top five tracks. 

Top Tracks Where Entrants Last Raced


Track Name

Number of Horses

Penn National




Finger Lakes


Mahoning Valley


Parx Racing


Laurel Park


Indiana Grand


Belterra Park


Charles Town


Turfway Park


Excluding Parx, the other four tracks had less than $200,000 in average daily purses for 2016. Parx offered an average of $371,070 for daily purses last year. The lowest of these five in 2016 was Mountaineer with $93,843 for an average daily purse and $6,600 as the median purse size. Competing at tracks where less money is offered might make it more difficult for a horse to earn its keep, pushing a horse toward retirement.

Some of these tracks have very active aftercare programs—for example, Pennsylvania Horsemen's Benevolence and Protective Association's New Start and the Finger Lakes Thoroughbred Adoption Program—to help horses make the transition off the track and into new careers. 

However, despite making their final starts at tracks with lower purse offerings, many in this year's group managed to bring in solid earnings. According to RRP, approximately half of the 2017 entrants made between $10,000 and $100,000 during their time on the track. Eighty-eight made between $50,000 and $100,000 and 82 made more than $100,000—the top earner of the group is multiple graded stakes winner Mister Marti Gras with almost $1.2 million.  

While 30% of the entrants ended their on-track careers fairly early, making 10 or fewer starts, the majority of the entrants (37%) made between 11 and 30 starts. There are 40 horses who made more than 50 starts each and four that made more than 100. 

Click here to see more data from RRP on RetiredRacehorseProject.org

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