Inmidair was the top placed Thoroughbred at Rolex with Jan Jyyny aboard (Photo by Eclipse Sportswire).
While 3-year-old Thoroughbreds will take the spotlight at Churchill Downs on May 3, their older counterparts were in the spotlight about an hour and a half away at the Kentucky Horse Park on April 24-27 at the Rolex Kentucky 3-Day Event.
After the first day of dressage, off-the-track Thoroughbred Mensa G brought back memories of the old days of eventing when his name was regularly on the leaderboard at the end of the day. The 16-year-old gelding had a full career on the track before moving to the upper levels, making 40 starts from 2000 to 2003 under the name of Merisa G.
The following day, another Thoroughbred stepped into the spotlight with another solid dressage performance: Inmidair, an unraced New Zealand-bred gelding. With a score of 49.5, Inmidair and rider Jan Byyny tied Mensa G for fourth place after the dressage phase.
At the end of the dressage, Thoroughbreds were well represented with four in the Top 20 going into the cross-country portion. A phase where horse and rider gallops over a set course outside while jumping large obstacles, the pair has an optimum time they must meet to go “clean” around the course. In addition, a refusal adds 20 points to their score with pairs also facing elimination for three refusals.
Of the 39 pairs to finish the cross-country phase, 19 horses received no penalties with six Thoroughbreds in that group, including ex-racehorse Parker, who had the fastest overall time on cross-country. While Mensa G and Inmidair did take home some penalties for going over the allotted time, both horses headed into the final phase of stadium jumping in the top 11.
Closing the event in the arena where it started four days earlier, 11 Thoroughbreds entered the Rolex Stadium on Sunday looking to complete North America’s only four-star 3-day event. While most Thoroughbred fans’ eyes were on Mensa G and Inmidair, who were sitting fourth and 11th respectively, three other Thoroughbreds were also within striking distance in the Top 20.
The aptly named Sir Rockstar, who ran on the track as Sir Rock, put in the only clear round of the Thoroughbreds and made his presence felt by jumping nine spots in the standings to place 19th. While Gin & Juice, Pirate, and Tsunami all suffered penalties when they knocked two poles down each for eight faults apiece, they too made the top 20, finishing just ahead of Sir Rockstar for a Thoroughbred domination of the 16th through 19th spots.
THOROUGHBREDS AT ROLEX
But perhaps the most disappointing of all the stadium jumping rounds for the Thoroughbred crowd was Mensa G, who had led the dressage after the first day of the event. Going into stadium jumping, he was sitting in fifth position, just seven points away from the lead and only two-tenths of a point out of third. However, the long weekend caught up with the horse and he accumulated 12 faults to drop down to 14th with a final score of 63.5.
Inmidair, however, was able to keep the Thoroughbreds in the top 10 by only knocking down a pole on one jump for a final score of 56.7. The score was good enough to move Inmidair and rider Jan Byyny from 11th to seventh overall, just 1.2 points behind the sixth-place finishers.
While Mensa G did have the penalties in stadium jumping to drop him to 14th, he won The Jockey Club’s Thoroughbred Incentive Program’s highest-placed Thoroughbred award for being the highest-placed Thoroughbred registered with the American association.
Overall, 11 Thoroughbreds finished in the Top 35 at the Rolex Kentucky 3-Day Event with eight of those horses spending time on the racetrack before moving to their second careers. Those eight retired racehorses raced a combined 155 times for $179,175 in earnings with Rolex 25th-place finisher Irish Rhythm making the most starts of any horse with 43, followed by Mensa G with 40.
For more information on the Rolex Kentucky 3-Day Event and official results from this year’s competition, visit www.rk3de.org.