03/09/2017 10:36AM

CANTER graduates quickly find new careers

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In February 2016, the Communication Alliance to Network Thoroughbred Ex-Racehorses opened a new affiliate in Chicago of its listing and networking service for owners and trainers. In its first year, CANTER Chicago established itself as one of the fastest-growing satellites of the national nonprofit, which reports that it has helped transition more than 25,000 Thoroughbreds into new homes since its founding in 1998.

The Chicago chapter, serving local racetracks Arlington Park and Hawthorne, listed more than 20 retiring horses in 2016, and 14 of those have found new homes. Two of those will represent the nascent program at a major event later this year.

Jacob’s Lighthouse and Our Chance are among the early entries accepted into the $100,000 Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover, a national competition and symposium to showcase off-the-track Thoroughbreds in a variety of disciplines. The show is set for Oct. 5-8 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.

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Jacob’s Lighthouse, a 9-year-old Limehouse gelding, concluded his career last November with a record of 59-2-12-2 and earnings of $89,246 while based primarily at Hawthorne and Arlington. The gelding was purchased by Kallie Zeinstra of Michigan, who spotted him in the CANTER listings last December.

“Jacob was not particularly good at racing and changed ownership repeatedly through these claiming races,” Zeinstra said. “His most recent owner and trainer decided to retire him from racing and list Jacob online on CANTER.

“We are currently working toward competing in the working-ranch and competitive-trail divisions [at the Thoroughbred Makeover]. It is, however, ultimately Jacob’s decision who and what he wants to be, and I am open to his suggestions.”

Our Chance, an unraced 4-year-old, is in training with Elizabeth Rietesel-Karlen of Illinois-based Prestige Sport Horses.

“He was training at Hawthorne when his breeder and trainer decided to sell him and move on to horses that showed more potential on the track,” said Rietesel-Karlen, who describes Our Chance as “reactive and sensitive” to work with.

“Chance hadn’t trained a lot at the track and wasn’t entirely racetrack fit, which allowed us to transition into his second career fairly quickly after I bought him in early December,” she added.

Meanwhile, with the season at Hawthorne under way, the CANTER Chicago team’s second year of listing local horses has started.

“When a horse no longer suited to racing is sold to a home off the track, there is a ripple effect of positive results,” CANTER Chicago executive director Kristen Miller said. “The horse gets a new home and career, the buyer enjoys a new riding partner, the trainer can fill a stall with a horse better suited to racing, and the track is more apt to fill races. CANTER Chicago hopes to help even more retiring racehorses in 2017. Thoroughbreds give so much to us and the sport, it’s only right to give back.”