Jockey Megan Fadlovich attended this year's Thoroughbred Makeover presented by Thoroughbred Charities of America without a mount. The rider, who has earned more than $4.7 million in her career to date, helps retire racehorses when she's not busy at the track.
Although she's currently recovering from an injury incurred in a spill at Presque Isle Downs, Fadlovich came to Kentucky to see the how the former runners she helped move are progressing in their second careers. While attempting to find our way to the dressage rings, I talked to Fadlovich about her involvement in the aftercare industry and her thoughts on the state of the off-track Thoroughbred market.
How did you get involved in aftercare and off-track Thoroughbreds?
"My first horse was an off-track Thoroughbred. I was 15 and probably didn't need a horse, but I got him anyway. I think everybody thought I was a little bit crazy and he just turned out to be an awesome animal.
"I just want more people to enjoy off-the-track Thoroughbreds. I feel like they all have a purpose, and I feel like sometimes racing isn't it. Let's find something else that they can do."
How do you move horses into new homes?
"I created a group on Facebook and I post horses on there. I try to (work) between the owner and the buyer. I take pictures, video, set up pre-purchase exams, all of that to try and facilitate moving these Thoroughbreds off the track into (new) homes.
"I think (Facebook) the best way (to move horses). Right now, It's a free social media venue where you can put descriptions with the pictures... I found it the best, easiest way to connect. I've tried things like Craigslist, which is kind of a very strange open market. And if you post on things like Dream Horse (Classifieds) and EquineNow, it seems that (people there are) looking for more of a finished horse. They don't really understand what an off-the-track Thoroughbred is.
"OTTB connect is great. I also post on things like Ohio Horses for Sale (Facebook group), and then you get people like 'oh, that horse is so skinny.' They're so negative toward Thoroughbred racehorses that they have no concept of, they don't understand what a lean racehorse is, (and) they also don't understand that as these horses trickle down into the lower levels they don't look as pretty as the horses that you see at Keeneland. So OTTB Connect is great, because they don't really allow any negativity on their posts. I have to really commend them for that.
"... Off-the-track racehorses have to be moved quickly too. A lot of times when the trainers are done with them, they're kind of like 'I need this stall.'... it is a business, and it's not like they're going to ask a lot of money for a horse, they want him to find a good home, but they need the stall. They need it moved to a good home, in a timely fashion."
Do you see more people looking to purchase OTTBs now?
"I think the Makeover has caused a giant increase in people interested in them and wanting to participate in this event. My only worry is what happens—are people going to continue getting OTTBs every (year)? I'm kind of curious to see how this all goes. What's going to happen to the Thoroughbreds who have been in it the past couple of years? Because now they're ineligible. Maybe they can bring a class back to this for horses who have competed already."
Do you think being a jockey helps you move horses?
"I think it does. I try to not just be a jockey but be a horseman too. I did three-day eventing when I was younger, I did mounted shooting, I ran a polo string. I think that has helped me a lot in being able to tell people 'Hey, I've ridden this horse,' and to be able to notice things.