Stakes Winner Made In America Comes Full Circle In His Transition To New Career - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Stakes Winner Made In America Comes Full Circle In His Transition To New Career

Tedesco and Made In America pose for a joyful photograph. Photo courtesy of Tori Tedesco

When a mare named Kindle gave birth to a Tiznow colt on Jan. 26, 2016, it was the first foaling Tori Tedesco handled in her new position at Darby Dan Farm.

Though Tedesco would go on to foal many more Thoroughbreds and care for still more at Darby Dan, at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, and later at Coolmore America, the 2016 Kindle baby always stuck out for her – partly because he was “her” first Kentucky foal, and partly because his personality was just a little different.

“He was the most laid-back, funny little foal you'd ever see,” she said. “In the stall, he was always passed out, so laid-back, which is weird for some foals. Even when he was being broke as a 2-year-old, he stayed the same the whole time, a puppy dog. He could be high energy but never malicious. I thought, 'Oh God, I'm going to keep getting more attached.'”

Tedesco has since come a long way from that first job out of college, and so has the little bay. But six years later, the two of them are together again.

Tedesco and the 2016 Tiznow-Kindle colt. Photo courtesy of Tori Tedesco

The colt was a homebred for Hank Nothhaft, who was based in California at the time Kindle dropped her 2016 foal. Nothhaft would make regular visits to the farm to check on his mares and foals, and Tedesco made sure she was always on hand to show off the Kindle colt. Nothhaft knew the colt and his handler had formed a bond.

“She's been there for him all along,” he said.

Racing is a retirement pastime for Nothhaft, 78, who races as HnR Nothhaft Horse Racing. Nothhaft spent his career as a technology entrepreneur and had always enjoyed an afternoon at the races. He embarked on a breed-to-race program with no ownership experience and found his niche in buying promising mares he could race and retire to his broodmare band.

Kindle, who was multiple graded stakes-placed, was one of those. Nothhaft purchased her as a $50,000 yearling in 2009 and, together with trainer Gary Mandella, campaigned her to runner-up finishes in two editions of the Grade 2 Monrovia and the G3 Sen. Ken Maddy Stakes. Her colt by Tiznow was the culmination of a long-time dream Nothhaft had for what his involvement in racing could look like.

“I ended up going to my first Kentucky Derby in the year Super Saver won the Derby and on that trip, through some friends, I got a tour of WinStar,” said Nothhaft. “I got to see the stallion barn, where Distorted Humor and Tiznow were standing. I had bred to Tizbud, his full brother, and this was kind of an aspirational eye-opener for me.

“Thinking of Tiznow, and the race for America [the 2001 Breeders' Cup Classic] right after 9/11, I decided to breed the mare to him, and that's why I named [the foal] Made In America.”

Made In America grew up in Kentucky and went to the West Coast to begin training with Mandella in late 2017 at San Luis Rey Downs. When the Lilac wildfire tore through the facility in December 2017, Made In America was part of Mandella's string of young horses just beginning their training. The flames singed the hair on his nose, but he emerged from the disaster otherwise unscathed. As news of the fire reached Kentucky, Tedesco got a message from Nothhaft reassuring her their favorite colt was ok.

Made In America's career didn't go quite the way Nothhaft and Mandella had planned; the fire was one setback, and just as the colt completed a final workout ahead of an anticipated career debut at Del Mar, there was another – he came back to the barn with a ligament injury. Nothhaft sent him to a rehabilitation center in California for extensive therapy and lay-up, believing there was potential in his horse.

When Nothhaft moved his residence from California to Texas he moved his horses too, and sent Made In America to Ben Colebrook as he refocused his stable to the Mid-Atlantic and Kentucky. Conveniently, this meant Tedesco was able to attend almost all of Made In America's six career starts, cheering her favorite foal alongside Nothhaft and bloodstock agent Carl McEntee.

After his win in the Forego Stakes at Turfway Park in January 2021, Nothhaft again got one of those calls owners dread. There was a new issue with the horse, and this time it marked the end of his career.

“I'm committed to all my horses; most of them, I've been able to retire sound,” he said. “This one wasn't sound, but I'm not going to stick him in some program and put that onto someone else.

“I have to get up and look at myself in the mirror in the morning. I spend a lot of time thinking about the users in this industry versus the givers. There are a lot of people in this industry taking from it and not giving back, and I don't choose to be like that. The other thing is, there wasn't anyone else in my family that was ever involved in horse racing and when I pass there's not going to be anybody. This is a one-generation event.”

For Nothhaft, an aftercare plan (and associated expenses) was always part of the budget for a racing operation. He has kept many of his female homebreds to add to his broodmare band, but he knew when he started he'd need to have a plan for the geldings, and that the best way to form a plan is to proceed through their racing career with patience and an eye towards their future in new sports. HnR has sent some of its horses to accredited aftercare facilities with donations to cover the cost of their housing until they find new homes, and has placed still others privately, but Made In America was going to need more time than most to begin the groundwork for a new job.

Nothhaft started Made In America's early rehabilitation at Colebrook's farm, and when the horse was ready for exercise again, he contacted Carleigh Fedorka at Sewickley Stables to see if she could help. Nothhaft had worked with Fedorka before, paying training costs for a retired racehorse while Fedorka put an eventing and dressage foundation on them and sold them to competition homes.

In the meantime, Tedesco had a lot going on. She had moved her career on to Coolmore and gotten her first OTTB, a high-energy horse named Smart Transition she had adopted from New Vocations. The pair went to the 2018 Thoroughbred Makeover together in eventing and show jumping. Although Tedesco learned a lot from him, his personality was tough for a busy adult amateur rider who could only dedicate a certain number of rides to him each week.

“He's your typical Thoroughbred – needs to be in work, needs to be showing and competing. He's very work-driven,” said Tedesco. “I'd been leasing him out because I can't ride him six days a week and give him everything I need.”

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She hadn't forgotten about Made In America.

“I'd lost touch a little at the end of his racing career,” she said. “I'd gotten overwhelmed with work. When I found out he was at Carleigh's, I'd go visit him.”

For Tedesco, Fedorka's involvement with Made In America's next step brought her Thoroughbred career full circle.

“She was my equine reproduction teacher in college,” said Tedesco. “I realized I loved equine repro and she said I needed to be in the Thoroughbred industry.

“She kind of set me up with my first job at Darby Dan.”

Fedorka and Nothhaft had a lot of interest in Made In America, but found he needed a gutsy rider, and professional equestrians were frightened away by the possibility he may have some jumping limitations due to his last injury. One day, they both realized the perfect solution was right in front of them. Nothhaft asked Tedesco if she wanted to take the gelding, free of charge.

“I had put a sale price on him, but only in my mind so that someone would have a commitment to the horse,” Nothhaft. “But it obviously wasn't to recoup money, because what it cost to rehab the horse, I don't even want to tell you. I wanted someone to be committed. How could you find anybody more committed? Of all the horses I've placed, I've never felt better about placing any horse with a human being. It makes her so happy that it makes me happy, too.

“It's one of the more positive things that's happened to me in the Thoroughbred industry, frankly.”

Tedesco and Made In America during his racing career. Photo courtesy of Tori Tedesco

Tedesco says now she never imagined she could become be the owner of that little bay foal. As he grew, she had dared to imagine they might be together one day.

“I'd always dreamed about it, and I was so hopeful, but I thought there was no way. This never happens,” she said. “They get claimed, or something happens. As soon as Hank found out I was seriously interested in taking him, he dropped everything and said this is where he was meant to be.”

Tedesco is in no hurry with her young prospect, who she now calls “Hank,” after Nothhaft. Though they know each other very well on the ground, she's going to take her time getting to know his personality under tack. She hopes to tackle some lower-level events with him, or may aim for dressage and jumpers. For now, their days are likely to include relaxed hacks through the fields and the creek on the property where Tedesco keeps her new partner.

“He's still super laid-back,” she said. “It's cool that he hasn't changed through the years. It shows everyone who has had him has taken care of him, and his owner has taken care of him too.”

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