Sep 24, 2019

OTTB Critique Presented by Athletux: Starlite Event

By Mikaela Kantorowski - Athletux Equine
Starlite Event (Event of the Year x TheGrassIsGreen), a 12-year-old off-the-track Thoroughbred. MGO Photography Photo courtesy of Michelle Cooley.

In this series, the United States Eventing Association (USEA) is partnering with Athletux to critique your off-the-track Thoroughbred (OTTB) eventing prospects. Would you like to have your off-the-track Thoroughbred featured in the next edition of OTTB Critique presented by Athletux? We are looking for our next horse! Email your tips to [email protected].

Off-the-track thoroughbreds come in all shapes, sizes, and breeding. While you can breed a racehorse with all the best pedigree in the world, sometimes they just don’t want to race as was the case with this month’s nominee. We are excited to feature Starlite Event, or Star as she is known around the barn, in our OTTB Critique column. Bred to run, Star is by Event of the Year (Seattle Slew x Classic Event xx Mr. Prospector) and out of TheGrassIsGreen (Wind and Wuthering x Interquillo xx Interco). As you can see from Star’s pedigree, she comes from a long line of impressive racing history. Star is the perfect example of a horse who has that pedigree but maybe didn’t have the racing talent that the breeder would have hoped for.

Star is a 12-year-old Thoroughbred mare, bred and raised in California, which just so happens to be where her current owner Michelle Cooley found her. She raced at Santa Anita four times and came in last three out of the four times only coming in second to last once. It was clear that she did not have a future as a racehorse thus she then became a part of her breeder’s program, the Thoroughbred Education Foundation.

Photo courtesy of Michelle Cooley.

It was there that she was restarted and where Cooley was introduced to the talented mare as she worked for the foundation. Cooley explained, “I worked for them and it was my job to bring her, as well as the Foundation’s other OTTBs, along and sell them.” Of course, once she laid eyes on Star, she couldn’t let this one go. “I loved her so much that the breeders ended up gifting her to me,” Cooley said.

Now, Cooley and Star are successfully competing at Training level with Preliminary in their sights. Cooley is the first to admit that her conformation is not ideal for an event horse, but explained that Star makes up for it with her heart. “She is absolutely AMAZING with a heart of gold,” Cooley added. After two fantastic finishes at Training level this year, the pair is well on their way towards accomplishing and exceeding those goals.

Photo courtesy of Michelle Cooley.

It is clear that Star shows immense potential in her new career and we are thrilled to have Caroline Martin here with us to critique Starlite Event. First, Martin gave a little insight on how she goes about looking at potential mounts adding this helps her when looking at photos and being unable to ride the horse herself. “Casey Mckissock and I pick out our sale horses oftentimes based on expression and then feel if we are lucky enough to sit on them in person,” she explained. Martin is excited to use her eye to critique Star and evaluate her potential to blossom into an upper-level event horse.

Right from the beginning, Martin comments on her great expression she shows as she is jumping and how well she uses her neck. “This is a very keen looking horse! She looks athletic and brave, while still being efficient over the fences,” she added. This checked off the positive expression box off quite quickly for Martin who was pleased to see the same positive expression and technique in every photo.

Photo courtesy of Michelle Cooley.

When she moved on to evaluating her under-saddle photos further, Martin was drawn to how well she jumped and her positive form over fences. “She also looks very smooth and balanced, as her rider has a consistently correct position in the pictures. Her expression says, 'Let’s go,' which is great to see,” she detailed.

Finally, Martin detailed, “You have to have a horse that loves his job and this one clearly does.” There is nothing better than an OTTB who excels in his or her new career and Martin is very impressed by this 12-year-old’s talent for the sport. Martin is looking forward to cheering Star and her owner on as they continue to progress up the levels. She wants to wish them all the best and will be following them on the West Coast.

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I’m not one for the spotlight. As the voice of the Association, you don’t need to know my personal views, political, eventing, or otherwise. So despite my byline appearing on thousands of articles on the USEA website and magazine, this is probably only the second time I’m writing about myself (the first was about my love for lessons, and reading it now makes me laugh as I am still 100% addicted). But as I am now just a USEA member I thought I would share a bit of my journey to add to our member spotlight series, Now on Course.

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