TAA Grads Make a Splash at the Thoroughbred Makeover

Over 55 Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA) graduates competed in the Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover October 12-15, 2022. This year, the RRP special awards—including the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance Graduate High Point Award—were presented Friday night, following the conclusion of preliminary competition. As such, Buckeye Warrior ridden by Holly Zecchin and Union Charm ridden by Alyssa Kelly tied for the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance Graduate High Point Award.

“It was wonderful to cheer on so many graduates of TAA-accredited aftercare organizations at the Makeover and in the Finale this year,” said TAA Office Manager, Catherine Flowers. “The success of TAA grads in the Makeover is a testament to the dedication of our accredited organizations in rehabbing, retraining, and rehoming off-track Thoroughbreds into new, well-matched homes. It is our pleasure to present the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance Graduate High Point Award to not just one, but two deserving horses and trainers, and we congratulate all the TAA Graduates and their trainers for their impressive efforts in the 2022 Thoroughbred Makeover.”

The Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance Graduate High Point Award comes with a TAA swag bag and $1,000 cash prize to be split between the winning trainers and TAA-accredited organizations from which the horse transitioned.

Catherine Flowers & Holly Zecchin (credit: Suzie Picou-Oldham)

Catherine Flowers, Alyssa Kelly, and Eileen Johnson (credit: Suzie Picou-Oldham)

Ohio-homebred Buckeye Warrior ran 18 times for owner Robert Reeves and trainer Mark Thomas. After four seasons on the track, the son of Majestic Warrior retired with a record of 2-0-4 and earnings of $43,819. Buckeye Warrior spent just 3 months at TAA-accredited New Vocations before being adopted by Holly Zecchin. At the Thoroughbred Makeover, their first-place preliminary ranking resulted in tying for the TAA High Point award, and on Saturday, October 15 Buckeye Warrior and Zecchin proved top of their class in the Dressage finale.

Bred in Kentucky by Castlepark Farm, John Karakourtis, and AF Thoroughbreds, Union Charm made seven careers starts in New York and Maryland, never breaking his maiden. The half-brother to stakes winner Charming Vixen was retired after three starts under owner/trainer Horacio De Paz to TAA-accredited MidAtlantic Horse Rescue by way of Beyond the Wire. After seven months at the aftercare organization, Union Charm was adopted by Eileen Johnson. On behalf of Johnson, Alyssa Kelly competed with Union Charm in Show Hunters and Show Jumpers at the Thoroughbred Makeover, earning the fifth and first-place positions after the preliminary round in show Hunters and Jumpers, respectively.

Union Charm & Alyssa Kelly (Credit: Suzie Picou-Oldham)

Of the 55 TAA graduates who competed in the Thoroughbred Makeover, 11 placed in the top five of their divisions, qualifying for the finale. TAA grads’ finale results are as follows:

Competitive Trail: 1st Hieronymous & Isabel Wells (CANTER Kentucky)

Dressage: 1st Buckeye Warrior & Holly Zecchin (New Vocations); 4th Bokeelia Island & Kelly Sulik (Thoroughbred Athletes)

Freestyle: 2nd Evaluator & Colleen Nolan (New Vocations); 5th Stonecatcher & Raechel Ramsey (New Vocations)

Polo: 5th Buffalo Dancer & Benjamin Lynch (New Vocations)

Ranch Work: 4th Change of Fortune & Nathan Bradley (CANTER Kentucky); 5th Stonecatcher & Raechel Ramsey (New Vocations)

Show Hunters: 3rd Union Charm & Alyssa Kelly (MidAtlantic Horse Rescue)

Show Jumpers: 3rd Union Charm & Alyssa Kelly (MidAtlantic Horse Rescue); 4th Nothin Really & Clare Mansmann (MidAtlantic Horse Rescue)