Education Blog

Welcome to the Foal Patrol Education Blog! Thank you to veterinarians Dr. Ted Hill and Dr. Stuart Brown for help with this project. Questions or comments? Contact us at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame:

Therapy Horses: TRF Second Chances Program

Career Paths
April 28th, 2020

After retiring from racing, thoroughbred horses can pursue other careers. One is to become a therapy horse. The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF) is a non-profit organization whose mission, to save thoroughbred horses no longer able to compete on the racetrack from possible neglect and abuse, has a unique program for such horses. The TRF Second Chances program allows inmates at correctional facilities to build life skills while participating in a vocational training program as they provide supervised care to retired racehorses.

The TRF Second Chances program provides training in equine care and management for offenders using retired thoroughbred racehorses. Through this program, retired racehorses are saved from possible neglect and abuse. The Vandalia Correctional Center in Illinois is one of seven Second Chance programs through the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation around the United States.

See media coverage of this facility to learn more about the program in the video here.

If you are interested in learning more about the Second Chances program, join Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation for a FREE educational tour of seven TRF Second Chances Programs via Zoom. Sign up at the link here and tune in at 4 p.m. on Friday May 1st!


Career Paths
April 1st, 2020

Thoroughbred horses are mainly used for racing; however, they also participate in other disciplines (such as eventing/dressage, mounted archery, polo, and fox hunting). Godolphin takes us behind the scenes to learn more about yearling training and the breaking in process for dressage riding. Dressage, derived from the French term meaning "training", is an equestrian sport where horse and rider perform choreographed movements from memory. This breaking in and training process is an important step in preparing horses for their career. 

This video has a few questions at the end, followed by the answers to learn more.  

Women in Racing

Career Paths
March 5th, 2020

The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame is celebrating Women’s History Month throughout March by highlighting the women enshrined in our Hall of Fame and works by women artists in our collection with weekly posts on our social media channels (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!). 

Some key female firsts in the sport of Thoroughbred racing in America are highlighted in our “Women in Racing” exhibition which will debut for its second summer when the Museum reopens this July 2020. These include:

July 7, 1934 – Mary Hirsch becomes the first woman to receive a trainer’s license. In 1938, Mary Hirsch became the first – and to this date, only – female trainer to win the Travers.

September 27, 1968 – Kathy Kusner becomes the first licensed female jockey in America.

February 7, 1969 – Diane Crump becomes the first female jockey to ride in a pari-mutuel race.

February 22, 1969 – Barbara Jo Rubin becomes the first female jockey to win a pari-mutuel race.

June 5, 1993 – Julie Krone becomes the first female jockey to win a Triple Crown race. In 2000, she becomes the first woman elected to the Hall of Fame.

August 14, 2009 – Janet Elliot becomes the first female trainer inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Stop by this summer to learn more about the pioneers and trailblazers of the sport in “Women in Racing!”

Thank you to the Museum Curator and the Collections Manager for writing and pulling together this information.  

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Sports Illustrated magazine cover courtesy of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame collection

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1938 Travers Trophy, courtesy of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame collection

Aftercare of thoroughbred horses with Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA)

Career Paths
February 11th, 2020

The aftercare of thoroughbred horses is an important aspect of their lives. This can take a lot of different paths and routes depending on their background, age and experience. Some horses transition to eventing, mounted archery, polo, and fox hunting in addition to serving as therapy horses and lead ponies on the racetrack. Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA) is an non-profit organization that accredits, inspects, and awards grants to approved aftercare organizations to retrain, retire, and rehome thoroughbreds. Here is a video overview of the organizations work as wel as a link to learn more about the success stories on their website 

Careers with Horses: How Ashado confirmed my desire to work in the horse racing industry by Alexa Ravit

Career Paths
January 30th, 2020

A first-generation “horse girl,” I became a fan of Thoroughbred racing at age 10 following Funny Cide’s Triple Crown bid in 2003, and in the ensuing years, I became engrossed in the sport. I was fortunate that the formative years of my fandom included the great Ashado. I’ll admit that I had no sense of the magnitude of Ashado’s accomplishments while she was racing. It never crossed my mind that seven grade 1 wins, two Eclipse Awards, and almost $4 million in earnings would put her in racing’s hall of fame one day. I just loved her talent, consistency, and longevity. When she was purchased by Darley for $9 million at the Keeneland November sale, I was not surprised, but I never allowed myself to dream that I would or could ever see her in person.

Fast forward to 2013. As a sophomore at Cornell University, I spent my winter focused on looking for summer internships. One of my letters was written to Darley, and I received the break of a lifetime when I was offered the opportunity to spend the summer of 2013 at Darley’s Gainsborough Farm as a groom trainee. I accepted the offer immediately, but it wasn’t until the summer approached that the possibility of working on the farm where Ashado lived crossed my mind. Darley, now known as Godolphin, owns multiple properties in Kentucky; what are the odds that my first work experience in horse racing would be at the home of one of my childhood heroes?

It turned out that the odds were in my favor. I didn’t work directly with Ashado during my time at Gainsborough, but I was told that I could see her whenever I wanted, and I took advantage. I was nothing short of starstruck the first time I walked into Ashado’s stall. I don’t get nervous around horses, but I was nervous around her. I don’t know how I expected her to behave, but her calm, almost aloof, demeanor enabled me to relax and take in a moment that I never could have imagined when I was 12 years old. For the rest of the summer, I spoiled her and her foal with peppermints and attention every chance I got.

I haven’t worked at Gainsborough for almost seven years, but Ashado remains a significant part of my life. Thanks to the generosity of the Gainsborough team, I have continued to visit and spoil this great mare when in Kentucky. My first visit to the Bluegrass State following my summer at Gainsborough was to attend the 2014 Kentucky Derby, and, to be honest, the highlight of that trip was reuniting with Ashado. Her election to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame had been announced the month before, and I was so excited to congratulate her in person. I’d be lying if I said that Ashado knew me then or knows me now; there is a direct correlation between the number of peppermints I have and her interest in me when I visit. However, I graciously offer my services as her personal treat dispenser in return for the impact she has had on my life.

Without question, my summer with Ashado confirmed my desire to work in the horse racing industry. Each subsequent visit reminds me how the love of the horse is what motivates me every day as an employee in the Thoroughbred industry. It is fitting that my current employer, The Jockey Club, is a supporter of the racing museum and Foal Patrol (The Jockey Club Technology Services created and hosts the Foal Patrol website), enabling fans to get up close and personal to beloved Thoroughbreds in a manner that was not possible when I was growing up. As the calendar creeps toward Ashado’s foaling date, I look forward to keeping tabs on a horse who means the world to me, and I’m excited that other fans will be able to connect with such a special champion who has brought so much joy to my life.


Photo courtesy of Alexa Ravit


Photo courtesy of Alexa Ravit