Second Stride, New Vocations Highlighted By TAKE2 Jet Run Award Winners - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Second Stride, New Vocations Highlighted By TAKE2 Jet Run Award Winners

Tavish and Debra Ward at the Kentucky Horse Park

The Bluegrass State is the heart of Thoroughbred country, so it's fitting that this year's TAKE2 Jet Run Awards have been won by a pair of Kentucky-breds who transitioned to second careers through Kentucky-based Thoroughbred aftercare programs.

Irbywood, who captured the 2022 Jet Run Award in the Jumper division, represents Second Stride. Located in Prospect, Ky., Second Stride was founded in 2005 by Kim Smith, a veteran horsewoman who also established Moserwood Farms, a broodmare care, foaling, breaking and lay-up facility. This year's Jet Run Award in the Hunter division, Tavish was retired through New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program; he was also named the 2022 TAKE2 High-Score Hunter. New Vocations has rehomed more than 8,000 retired Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds since its inception in 1992. The oldest and largest racehorse adoption program in the country, it is based in Lexington, KY, and has facilities in Florida, Louisiana, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

The Jet Run Award was created to highlight the role of aftercare organizations in the successful second careers of retired racehorses. It is open to all TAKE2 Thoroughbred League members who are graduates of an aftercare program accredited by the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, affiliated with a recognized horsemen's organization, and/or approved for a grant from Thoroughbred Charities of America.

Both of this year's Jet Run Award winners boast enviable pedigrees.

A repeat winner of the Jet Run Award in the Jumper division, Irbywood is by the late stallion Indian Charlie, who finished third in the 1998 Kentucky Derby, his only loss in a five-race career. Irbywood sold as a two-year-old for $625,000, going to Thoroughbred racing and breeding powerhouse Stonestreet Stables in 2011. After finishing third in his racing debut, he sustained an injury that required surgery and significant time off, returning from a layoff of more than two years to win his second start. Unfortunately for his connections, that would be his final race, but despite that early injury, he has flourished as a jumper for owners Michael and Sharon Kvistad.

Now 13, Irbywood exemplifies what retired Thoroughbreds can achieve with patience, good training, and physicality.

“He was eight years in the making,” said Anna Ford, New Vocations' Thoroughbred Program Director. “Mike and Sharon have really taken their time with him.”

Both are experienced horsepeople, and they have adopted several horses from New Vocations to show. Neither was concerned that Irbywood's injury had been surgically repaired.

“Irbywood is a perfect example of what a well-bred, athletic Thoroughbred can do,” said Ford. “Stonestreet did right by him; they took care of him when he was injured and they retired him when he needed to be retired. And we had adopters that were willing to go at the pace that suited the horse and rest him when necessary.”

Cinthia McGreevy's Black Tavish, known in the show ring as Tavish, descends from bloodstock royalty. Sired by Giant's Causeway, the 2000 Breeders' Cup Classic runner-up who earned $3 million on the track, Tavish was offered at the 2014 Keeneland September yearling sale, drawing a final bid of $165,000. He earned $167,000 during a 27-race career, running his final race for trainer Matt Shirer at Fair Grounds in New Orleans.

“Matt transitioned him through us,” said Second Stride's Smith. “Tavish came in with a bow [bowed tendon], but he was very correct and very sound. And obviously he was very attractive with that big white face. He was very desirable as an adoptee because of his looks.”

Tavish made his final appearance at the racetrack in 2018. He was given plenty of time to learn his new career before McGreevy entered him in the 2021 Retired Racehorse Project; he won the award for Best Conditioned Horse.

“It's so cool to see his success, and to watch his adopter develop him and do right by him,” said Smith. “He's such a cool horse, and now that he's won the TAKE2 High-Score Championship, he's the bomb.”

Smith's voice glows with affection when she talks about the Second Stride alumnus. She also has high praise for the TAKE2 Program.

“Industry programs like TAKE2 give horses a chance at making a name for themselves, and they educate people about what horses can do and how to handle injuries,” said Smith. “Before programs like TAKE2, a horse like Tavish would have been with us for six months, because people would have been wary of him. Now we have clients who are educated and who have complete veterinary histories of the horses they're adopting.”

She added, “The educational outreach [of Second Stride and TAKE2] is showing the riding community that when treated properly, a horse with an injury like a bowed tendon can go on to be successful.”

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