Foolish Games, ridden by Katie Graney, and Southern Charm, ridden by Lainie Wimberly, were named champions of the TAKE2 Thoroughbred divisions during the opening week of the 25th annual Vermont Summer Festival, which runs through August 12 at Harold Beebe Farm in East Dorset, VT.
Foolish Games, a 16-year-old Thoroughbred gelding by Out of Place and owned by Olde Towne Equestrian Center based in Selden, NY, earned two first-place and two second-place ribbons in the jumper division to be crowned champion. Epitomizing the versatility of the breed, Foolish Games has carried 14-year-old Graney of Garden City, NY, in the hunter, jumper, and equitation rings and competed in both the TAKE2 Hunter and Jumper Divisions during the first week of competition at the Vermont Summer Festival.
“We just celebrated our one-year anniversary together earlier this week,” said Graney, who leases Foolish Games from trainer Myrna Treuting. “We started in the hunters, but I really wanted to have a career in the equitation, so we worked on halting, counter canter, and trotting jumps, and ended up champion in the mini equitation at several horse shows.
“He is the best to jump, so sweet on the ground, and loves everyone,” continued Graney. “I like that these horses have had a history in racing, but people work to train them to be hunter/jumpers. They are so much fun to ride!”
Foolish Games raced at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, NY, before starting a career in the show ring when Treuting added him to her program two years ago.
“These divisions are great because race horses can absolutely be retrained and this gives them a job, and it also gives people a reason to buy Thoroughbreds again,” said Treuting, who coaches the Stony Brook University Equestrian Team out of Olde Towne Equestrian on a string of mostly Thoroughbred horses. “They are amazing; so honest and brave. I have warmbloods too, but I would take a Thoroughbred any day of the week!”
In the hunter ring, Wimberly and Southern Charm, a seven-year-old Thoroughbred gelding by 2007 Breeder’s Cup winner Curlin, swept the division with four blue ribbons over fences and a win under saddle. Wimberly, who hails from Ridgefield, CT, and operates Brigadoon Show Stables out of North Salem, NY, had the ride for owner Courtney Safadi.
“We showed nothing but Thoroughbreds when I first started in this business,” said Wimberly, who started riding Southern Charm in August of 2016. “Courtney asked me to show him in the Thoroughbred division, and he was delightful. He wants to do the right thing for you all the time and is a ham in the barn.”
Safadi adopted Southern Charm from New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program in Lexington, KY, as a way for her to return to show jumping after 18 years out of the saddle. While Southern Charm was bred for the track, he never raced.
“I am really happy he doesn’t run that fast,” joked Wimberly. “Thoroughbreds are wonderful horses that need a second career and a second job, so for us to support this division is only natural.”
The TAKE2 Second Career Thoroughbred Program is committed to promoting and developing second careers for racehorses once they have retired from the track. Launched in 2012 by the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (NYTHA) in collaboration with the New York Racing Association (NYRA) and the New York Thoroughbred Breeders Inc. (NYTB), TAKE2 funds prize money and awards in hunter and jumper classes restricted to Thoroughbreds that are eligible to be registered with The Jockey Club. In addition to the Vermont Summer Festival, TAKE2 events are offered at more than 300 horse shows in 10 of the 12 USEF zones across 23 states.
The Vermont Summer Festival is New England’s largest hunter/jumper competition and the richest sporting event based on purse in the state of Vermont with more than $750,000 in prize money. The event is also a proud member of the Show Jumping Hall of Fame, the Marshall & Sterling League, and the North American League (NAL). Outside the show ring, exhibitors are immersed in the charm of Vermont's shopping, dining, and outdoor activities.
Competition at the 2018 Vermont Summer Festival runs weekly from Wednesday through Sunday, beginning each day at 8 a.m. Admission is $6 for adults and $3 for children from Wednesday through Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, admission is $9 for adults and $5 for children with 100% of all gate proceeds benefiting The Dorset School, Manchester Community Library, and the Rotary Club of Manchester.