Here are a couple of examples of OTTBs who have excelled in their new endeavours in eventing.

It was October, 2015, and Barbara Burke had just bought out her partners for the dark bay three-year-old Careless Cousin, convinced the friendly fellow simply did not want to race anymore. “I was torn on what to do,” said Burke, part of the Overheath Stable syndicate at Woodbine Racetrack. “I didn’t want to see him racing at the low-level claiming races for the rest of his life, but I had no idea what to do now that I had my own horse.”

A horse racing fan, Burke joined the Overheath syndicate, run by Charles Overland, the year that the group purchased Careless Cousin at the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society (Ontario) yearling sale at Woodbine. The Ontario-sired dark bay cost $33,000 and showed promise as a two-year-old, earning more than $56,000. “We fell in love with him the first time we met him, about two months after he was bought,” said Burke. “He was as gentle as a lamb and Bennett [her eight-year-old son, who has cerebral palsy] got along with him right away.”

When Eddie started to show signs that he was not thrilled with racing anymore, the syndicate of some 14 others decided to drop him to the bottom claiming level in the fall of 2015. He won that $4,000 claiming race, but did not attract a claim. That is when Burke stepped in and paid $3,000 to buy out the partners.

Burke, who lives in Sudbury with her husband, Jim Radey, and son, Bennett, knew Careless Cousin was sound and had a lot to give in another career. She contacted LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement Society and in less than two months, Careless Cousin was scooped up by Chloe Duffy, 15, of Duffy’s Equestrian. The gelding, affectionately known as Eddie, is in training for three-day eventing and is headed to the 2016 Thoroughbred Makeover in Lexington, Kentucky, October 27-30, 2016.

Duffy is coached by one of the country’s top three-day eventers, Jessica Phoenix. “As soon as I walked in the barn at the LongRun foster farm, Eddie welcomed me and I knew he was the one that would be coming home with us,” said Duffy, who has re-named the gelding Just Between Us. “He has been willing and wanting to learn and I think he is going to be a strong eventer.”

“I believe in looking after your horse after he’s done racing,” said Burke. “Bennett and I are excited to be able to follow Eddie’s post-racing career with Chloe and wish them the best of success.”

When Val Topp and David Bell first brought Ojibway Signal to the track as an unraced two-year-old, they soon found the big fellow was going to be a work in progress. “He’s was very good-looking as a two-year-old, but he was really nervous and a bad stall walker,” said Topp. “He was kind of a high-maintenance guy.”

‘OJ’ also proved to be an intelligent and keen student who quickly settled down, completed a successful racing career and just a few months into his retirement, is now an easy-going riding companion for Topp.

Bell, one of Woodbine’s most successful trainers, paid $22,000 for the tall, dark bay son of Queen’s Plate winner Niigon at the Woodbine yearling sale and brought him into the track the following spring to begin training. Once he was gelded and started regular training, OJ put his nervous energy into galloping and racing and by the fall of his juvenile season was really keen on his job. “He was quite a good racehorse,” said Topp, who gallops Bell’s horses and helps manage her partner’s Woodbine stable.

Ojibway Signal won his maiden at the top level, earning over $33,000 for that first score and was stakes-placed before his two-year-old campaign was over.

As a three-year-old in 2011, Ojibway Signal was given a chance to compete in the biggest race of them all for Canadian-born thoroughbreds, the Queen’s Plate, and while he was 14 lengths in arrears of super-filly Inglorious, he came out of that race to win his next two races in allowance company. His biggest win came in 2012, when he galloped around the Woodbine turf course to win a 1 1/2-mile event worth $70,000.

When the gelding was retired in November of 2014, he had earned over $250,000 in his 40 races. Topp was eager to keep OJ for herself once his career on the track was finished, even if he was always one of the more aggressive horses she had to gallop each morning. “From the first time I saw him, I had him pegged as my riding horse,” said Topp, who was long-listed for the Canadian eventing team before she began a career at Woodbine. “He was strong to gallop, but he was always interested in everything and liked everyone.”

After some turnout time during the winter of 2015, Topp moved OJ to a nearby boarding stable and started riding the gelding in a more serene, but very different setting. “I just started riding him around an indoor arena and that was it,” said Topp. “He became very mellow. Dave and I have gone for hacks and trail rides and he loves it.”

During the summer of 2015, Topp schooled OJ over some cross-country jumps and was not surprised that her gelding thrived. “He’s a natural learner. He went up banks and down banks, over and through water.” In July of that year, OJ took part in his first event at Myrddin Equestrian Centre in Georgetown, ON, placing third and looking as confident as he did on the racetrack. “I’m happy enough to do lower-level stuff with him. It’s exciting to be riding again.”

Topp then entered OJ in the popular Thoroughbred Makeover: Retired Racehorse Project events at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington last October, where they placed a respectable 9th in dressage and 17th in eventing.

At 17 hands, Ojibway Signal certainly looks intimidating, but like the majority of retired racehorses, he is a gentle giant. “On the ground, he’s always mooching for treats,” said Topp. “He loves attention and looks for it.”