Maker’s Mark Secretariat Center Launches All-Star Program

Lexington, KY — The Maker’s Mark Secretariat Center is pleased to announce the launch of the All-Star Program, a collaborative initiative to re-establish the Thoroughbred horse as the premier international level competitor in equestrian sport. Conceived by Dorothy Crowell, the All-Star Program will pair exemplars of the breed with the best riders in the nation, then follow their progression from their first ride off the track, to their medal winning performances.

Crowell and her OTTB Molokai won silver medals at the World Equestrian Games at The Hague, were selected for two Olympic Teams, and captured the inaugural US 4* Championships at Rolex Kentucky 3-Day. Crowell is a life-long Thoroughbred enthusiast, born and raised in Kentucky where her family owned Spendthrift Farm, famous for standing Triple Crown winners Seattle Slew and Affirmed at stud.

“Thoroughbreds have heart, stamina, cat-like quickness, and a bottomless engine,” Crowell said when discussing the innate athleticism of the breed. “Many of our best riders in Eventing began their international careers riding Thoroughbreds – Neville Bardos, JJ Babu, Donner, Courageous Comet, Biko, Might Tango, True Blue Girdwood, the list is long!”

But all equestrian sports, eventing included, have changed considerably in the last two decades, with American riders choosing the European warmblood or the Irish draft over their native sport horse, the Thoroughbred. Crowell wants to change that.

She began by reaching out to Jonathan Holling, an international four star**** event rider who has competed in the US and abroad. “I like Thoroughbreds,” Holling said, “but my barn has all kinds of breeds, because I like a GOOD horse, no matter what the breed. That said, I was intrigued with Dorothy’s idea,” he continued. “I see it as a wonderful way to get more people involved in the sport. By being part of the teams around the horses in the All-Star Program, eventing enthusiasts will have an affordable way to enjoy the process of an international horse’s progression to the top.”

Crowell, Vice President of the MMSC’s Board of Directors, recently brought Holling to the MMSC, which is known for having Thoroughbreds that represent the athleticism and versatility of the breed and was actively looking to partner with top riders. Holling tried several possible All-Star prospects, and one of them, Ragtime Rebel, a 16.2h, four-year-old chestnut gelding, had all the qualities that he looks for in an international prospect.

“Rebel is super intelligent and level-headed,” Holling explained. “He has a good, kind eye. He is a lovely mover. He’s got the tools to collect and expand at the canter. He has an impressive, balanced jump. And the MMSC has done a wonderful job of restarting him.” Excited by these qualities, Holling adopted Ragtime Rebel, becoming the first Team in the MMSC’s All-Star Program. They have begun developing a partnership that will hopefully take them to the top.

Crowell couldn’t be happier. “This is a win-win!” she said. “A win for Rebel and Jon and a win for eventing, racing, and the MMSC. There’s no doubt that finding the perfect combination of horse and rider can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. By pairing a Thoroughbred like Rebel with a rider of Jon's talent, we are hedging our bets! And for me, it has always been about the journey. The long game. The vast majority of successful international partnerships are horses and riders that have been together for many years. The All-Star Program provides the opportunity for all of us to be a part of that amazing long-term bond that is created between a special horse and its rider as they seek to bring the Thoroughbred back to the top levels of competition!”

Follow Rebel and Jon’s progress on the MMSC’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MakersMarkSecretariatCenter. Inquiries about creating an All-Star Team should be directed to mmsecretariatcenter@gmail.com.

 Jon riding Ragtime Rebel for the first time at the MMSC.

Jon riding Ragtime Rebel for the first time at the MMSC.

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The Maker’s Mark Secretariat Center (MMSC) is a premier non-profit re-schooling facility and showcase for adoptable Thoroughbreds. Founded in 2004, the MMSC uses its illustrious location in the Kentucky Horse Park to herald the athleticism of this amazing breed by teaching new skill sets to horses of all levels of ability, so they can go on to be ambassadors for racehorses in new careers. The initial funding came from Maker’s Mark, Keeneland Race Course, and private donors. Today the MMSC is supported solely by donations, grants, and adoption fees. Director Susanna Thomas brought the Horse Centered Reschooling Programto the MMSC. It is a holistic interdisciplinary training program comprised of three distinct phases: body, spirit, and mind. Potential adopters must fill out an application and when approved come to the MMSC to try the horse/s to make sure that the fit between horse and adopter is a good one. The MMSC is open to the public and welcomes visitors. For more information visit www.secretariatcenter.org and follow the MMSC on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.