Phillip Dutton and Icabad Crane. Photo by Megan Stapley Photography

Phillip Dutton and America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred Icabad Crane. Photo by Megan Stapley Photography

With over 10,000 people voting online, countless videos being viewed, blog reads, social media sharing and more, this year’s Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover was one for the record books, bringing Pimlico and Maryland to the center of the country’s attention and helping to push off-the-track Thoroughbreds to the top of many people’s horse wish list.

The America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred contest paired ten top trainers with ten Thoroughbred ex-racehorses, showing their progress throughout the summer on RRP’s website. The trainers represented a variety of equestrian disciplines, which showcased the versatility of the breed. The disciplines showed were Polo, Show Hunter, Eventing, Ranch Work, Steeplechase, Fox Hunter, Show Jumper, Barrel Racing, Dressage and Pony Club.

The horses were brought to Pimlico on October 5 for a final demonstration of their skills before hundreds of people in the stands, a panel of guest celebrity judges and via live streaming online with more than 5,000 viewers. In the end, it was Icabad Crane, owned by Graham Motion (Fair Hill), and trained by Eventing Olympian Phillip Dutton (PA), who took home the win. The nine-year-old gelding ran third in the 2008 Preakness Stakes and his team of trainers from Dutton Eventing pulled out all the stops for the win including allowing Dutton’s 13-year-old daughter Olivia hack him around the track after Dutton jumped a five-stride line in four, five, six, seven, and even eight strides, showing just have responsive Icabad has become. “He is very adjustable and such a sensible horse,” Dutton said. “The last time he was at Pimlico was when he ran in the Preakness Stakes in 2008, so to give it a go in front of the grandstands says a hell of a lot about the horse.”

Icabad has already seen great success in the eventing world, competing through the Training level at U.S. Evening Association events with Dutton and Waylon Roberts on board. He won his first event at Beginner Novice this past March while in Aiken, South Carolina before moving up to Novice this spring. He placed fifth at his first Training level event, which was very fittingly completed at the Fair Hill International Horse Trials in August. Icabad’s most recent event was a sixth place finish at Morven Park (VA) the day before his Most Wanted Thoroughbred win.

Even though Icabad’s popularity and skill set earned him the win, it was a narrow victory with Pookie’s Princess finishing second by only 120 votes. Trainer Patrick King demonstrated Western Dressage, some reining, working with a tarp, working with a Garocha pole and lying down on the track for King to dismount.

Third place went to Discreet Dancer, trained by Olympic Show Jumper Armand Leone, who represented New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program. D’Sauvage of MidAtlantic Horse Rescue was fourth, demonstrating side saddle, show hunter and leadline (with The Equiery’s Jennifer Webster’s son George on board). D’Sauvage actually left straight from Pimlico to his new home with a young show hunter rider in Marriottsville.

Although the contest was the spotlight event of the weekend, there were also seminars and lectures throughout the weekend including such topics as training, health care, and the business side of acquiring, training, and placing horses with new owners.

The EQUUS Foundation was the presenting sponsor for America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred Contest with Thoroughbred Charities of America sponsored the TCA Thoroughbred Marketplace. The Equiery was also a sponsor of the weekend.

Photos and more from the weekend will be featured in an upcoming issue of The Equiery!