OTTBs Celebrated at Vermont Summer Festival

August 7, 2019 - East Dorset, VT

Vala de Plata, ridden by Maggie Gillis, took top ribbons in the TAKE2 Thoroughbred Jumper division during the fifth week of the 2019 Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, VT.
Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography
One Lucky Guy, ridden by Armand Chenelle, was named champion of the TAKE2 Thoroughbred Hunter Division during the fifth week of the 2019 Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, VT.
Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

Off-the-track Thoroughbreds (OTTB) found success in TAKE2 Thoroughbred competition during the penultimate week of the Vermont Summer Festival, which runs through August 11 at Harold Beebe Farm in East Dorset, VT.

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.

In the Take2 Thoroughbred Jumper division during week five of the Vermont Summer Festival, Vala de Plata, or “Silver” as he is known around the barn, won two classes with Maggie Gillis of Rexford, NY, in the tack.

“Because of his age and experience, we only do two or three classes a week with him,” said Gillis of the 20-year-old Thoroughbred gelding by Silver Music owned and trained by Betsy Joyce of Ballston Spa, NY. “He is a great horse and a complete professional. He’s very careful over fences and does his best to jump clear regardless of where I put him. He’s my dream, but I think he would be anyone’s dream horse.

Gillis got the ride on Vala de Plata after she retired her hunter mount and made the transition to the jumper ring. Found on the track by Joyce, Vala de Plata made a successful transition to the show ring and is qualified to compete in the inaugural $20,000 TAKE2 Thoroughbred Finals at the Kentucky National Horse Show in Lexington, KY, this September.

“His attitude is, ‘Stay in the tack, and I will get you to the next fence,’” continued Gillis. “Photographers ask me all the time if he every goes with his ears anything but forward, and the answer is no, he doesn’t. He loves his job.”

Of the Take2 Thoroughbred division, Gillis noted, “I think the Take2 program is terrific because of its purpose, which is to give Thoroughbreds second careers. I’m 68 years old, and when I was a teenager almost all the hunters and jumpers were Thoroughbreds. It’s nice to see the program give these horses an opportunity in the show ring and show what they can do, because they have so much talent.”

In the Take2 Thoroughbred Hunter division, One Lucky Guy, ridden by Sarah Herring of Glastonbury, CT, and Armand Chenelle of Hebron, CT, was champion. Owned by Patricia Garrett of Victor, NY, One Lucky Guy is a 12-year-old Thoroughbred gelding by Formal Gold. Reserve champion honors stayed in the Windcrest Farms family with Bravado, a 14-year-old Thoroughbred gelding by Lion Hearted ridden by Elizabeth Chenelle of Hebron, CT, and owned by Armand Chenelle, taking the tricolor.

Now in its 26th year, the Vermont Summer Festival offers a dynamic competition schedule while also giving competitors an opportunity to enjoy the wide variety of entertainment, recreation, shopping, and dining options offered in Dorset, Manchester, and the surrounding area. A recent study conducted by the Center for Rural Studies at the University of Vermont cited that the total direct spending of visitors frequenting Vermont for equine-related activities is estimated at nearly $15.5 million annually.

Competition at the 2019 Vermont Summer Festival runs weekly from Wednesday through Sunday, beginning each day at 8 a.m. Admission is $5 for adults and children from Wednesday through Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children with 100 percent of all gate proceeds benefiting Dorset Equine Rescue, The Dorset School, and Manchester Community Library.

The Vermont Summer Festival is a proud member of the Show Jumping Hall of Fame, the Marshall & Sterling League, and the North American League (NAL). For more information on the Vermont Summer Festival, please visit