Applications now open for 2021 Thoroughbred makeover

Applications are now open for the 2021 competition year of the Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium, presented by Thoroughbred Charities of America. Applications will be accepted through January 15, 2021. Accepted trainers will be announced on February 15, 2021.

The Thoroughbred Makeover features competition in ten disciplines for recently-retired Thoroughbreds in their first year of retraining for a career after racing.

As the 2020 Thoroughbred Makeover was postponed to 2021 due to the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 edition of the Retired Racehorse Project’s banner event will include competition groups both for horses that would have competed in 2020, as well as those entering for 2021. The two groups will compete separately, including two separate Finales to crown each year’s Thoroughbred Makeover Champion. Applications for the 2020 competition year closed earlier this year, though new owners of horses already entered for 2020 may apply to compete.

Entering its seventh year at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, the Thoroughbred Makeover features competition in ten disciplines for recently-retired Thoroughbreds in their first year of retraining for a career after racing. Horses and their trainers may compete in one or two disciplines of their choice, including Barrel Racing, Competitive Trail, Dressage, Eventing, Field Hunter, Polo, Ranch Work, Show Hunter, Show Jumper, and Freestyle (a freeform discipline showcasing skills of the trainer’s choosing).

Horses and trainers will compete for more than $100,000 in total prize money per competition year, plus the coveted title of Thoroughbred Makeover Champion at the Kentucky Horse Park on October 12-17, 2021. The Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium includes not just the competition, but educational seminars, a vendor fair, the Makeover Marketplace horse sale, and the Makeover Master Class, featuring demonstrations and insight from leading trainers. The Finale features the top five horses in each discipline and will be live-streamed for viewers at home.

The Thoroughbred Makeover is open to professionals, amateurs, juniors (ages 12 and over), and teams. Applicants are required to provide information about their riding and competition background as well as references, including one from a veterinarian. Applicants are encouraged to provide links to riding video, which is a requirement for first-time competitors. Competitors do not need to have acquired their horse at the time of application, though they must register their horse no later than July 31, 2021.

Approved trainers may acquire eligible Thoroughbreds through whatever source they choose, or can ride under contract from an owner. Eligible horses must have raced or had a published work on or after July 1, 2019 and must not have started retraining for a second career prior to December 1, 2020 other than a maximum of 15 allowable rides, intended to allow for trial rides. The 2021 Thoroughbred Makeover Rulebook outlines all rules and information relevant to the competition, with changes for 2021 marked in red and clarifying information marked in blue.

2020 Thoroughbred Makeover Fast Facts:

  • 660 entries originally registered for the 2020 Thoroughbred Makeover have remained active for the “mega-Makeover,” whether they intend to compete in the 2020 competition group or roll their entry to the 2021 competition group
  • Applications for the 2020 Thoroughbred Makeover are closed; however, new owners of a horse already registered for the 2020 Thoroughbred Makeover can apply to compete in the 2020 competition group
  • 581 horses were registered for the 2020 competition group, leveraging approximately $4.6 million invested into their future in health care, training, etc. An estimated $25.5 million has been invested in Makeover-bound horses by their Makeover trainers since 2013
  • A total of 3,479 trainers have been accepted since 2013, hailing from 41 states and five Canadian provinces. 3,191 horses have been directly impacted by being registered to compete at the Makeover
  • High-profile contenders in the 2020 competition group include five Breeders’ Cup participants: Term of Art, Expedited Vision, Sheer Talent, Normandy Crossing, and Imperative; and two MGSWs: Imperative and Page McKenney

The Retired Racehorse Project (RRP) is a 501(c)3 charitable organization working to increase demand for off-track Thoroughbreds in the equestrian world. In addition to producing the Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium, the organization also publishes Off-Track Thoroughbred Magazine, hosts off-track Thoroughbred retraining clinics and programming at major horse expos and events around the country, and maintains the online Thoroughbred Sport Tracker (the internet’s only user-driven database tracking second career talent and accomplishments of registered Thoroughbreds). Visit the RRP online at

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