Lookin’ Good: OTTB Follows Yellow Brick Road to New Career
By Mary Perdue
In April of 2016, a 6-year-old New York-bred gelding by Disco Rico set the pace throughout much of a starter allowance at Aqueduct going 1 1/16 miles on the turf, but faded in the stretch to finish fifth. It turned out to be Goodtolook’s last race; the hearty bay had compiled 33 career starts, hitting the board 14 times, including an allowance win at Saratoga, for over $332,000 in lifetime earnings.
Barely 18 months later, Goodtolook is well on his way to a new career with owner/trainer Bridget Hollern of Richwood, OH, as the pair competed at the 2017 Thoroughbred Makeover held at the Kentucky Horse park earlier this month in Lexington, KY.
Hollern, riding side saddle and wearing ruby slippers, showed Goodtolook in a freestyle performance to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” The handsome gelding walked down his own yellow brick road and left the clouds behind him. Hollern was more than satisfied with Goodtolook’s performance.
“He’s only been to one other indoor show,” she said.
But the pair’s best result came in the competitive trail event, where they finished seventh out of 63, missing the top five and a chance to compete for the $10,000 prize money by a single point.
The story of how Goodtolook and Hollern became a team began when the gelding arrived at New Vocations (www.horseadoption.com) in June, 2016 with a fractured sesamoid. During his rehab, which included stall rest and round pen turnout for 90 days, the pair formed a bond, and Hollern, a staff trainer for the organization, formally adopted the bay the following spring.
“I was looking for one to do ranch (events) with,” Hollern explains. “I watched him march right through water and mud and bridges, and I knew he’d be good at competitive trail.”
Hollern and Goodtolook were all set to begin serious training when they were thrown a curveball: Hollern’s mother died suddenly of pancreatic cancer in early April.
“We didn’t really get rolling until May,” Hollern recalls.
Hollern showed Goodtolook in a few small arena trail challenges during the summer, but the Thoroughbred Makeover event was the pair’s first large scale outdoor course, consisting of four miles and ten judged obstacles, including a mailbag carry, weaving through trees showing lead changes, and navigating around cages full of chickens. Hollern admits that Goodtolook’s comeback and transition in such a short time has made her especially proud of his accomplishments.
“He loves all that stuff,” Hollern said. “I wanted to spotlight one that wasn’t perfect so that more people will be open to taking a horse with rehabbed injuries.”
Goodtolook shows barefoot and earns his keep as a lesson horse in Hollern’s barn, where she says riders as young as nine ride him safely. His barn name is Gene (after Gene Simmons), for obvious reasons.
It’s a long way from the turf course at Aqueduct to a barefoot life as a lesson and trail horse, but Goodtolook seems to have found his own yellow brick road to a new and happy second chance.