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Graduate Spotlight: Buddha Kai

Updated: Nov 7, 2022

Welcome to the first in a new series of Success Stories. I will be interviewing After the Races adopters about their journeys with their Thoroughbreds and sharing this information with our greater ATR family on a weekly basis.

First up is a 2015 mare: Buddha Kai. Her adopter Mackenzie happened to post some photos on Facebook as I was brainstorming this new column, and was happy to be the first participant! For some background, Buddha Kai retired after 37 races and came to After the Races in partnership with Beyond the Wire, a Maryland, track-based retirement program. She is by Paddy O'Prado and out of a mare by Buddha. You can see her racing record and pedigree here. Now, on with the interview!


How long have you had Secret now, and what inspired her barn name?

I have had Secret for two and a half years, having adopted her in May of 2020. My previous horse had just passed and I was quietly looking for a new horse despite people telling me not to. When I adopted her I didn't tell anyone I was buying a new horse and I just called her my big secret. "Secret" just sort of stuck as her name from there, however, she also goes by The Beast because of her size and Sparkle because of her princess attitude.

2. What drew you to her when you were searching for a horse? How did you know she was "the one?" I was looking for a jumper prospect and I really liked her breeding as a sport horse. She also had the conformation I was looking for. When I saw her presence in her video on After the Races' website, I knew she was what I wanted. Also the fact that she retired sound after a pretty serious racing career sealed the deal for me.

3. What are the two of you up to these days? We are currently showing in the jumpers with hopes to do the 1.0m Take2 jumpers next season. In the spring of 2022 we moved to Ballyclare Farm to train. They specialize in OTTBs as well so it’s been a great transition for her. I also plan on taking her to get her approval as a warmblood broodmare in the future.

4. Were there any challenges you had to overcome together? Secret and I have had many challenges since I adopted her. Shortly after her adoption, she had part of her hoof resected to treat white line disease. Soon after she was diagnosed with uveitis caused by Lyme and Leptospirosis infections. She lost some of the vision in her right eye due to the uveitis, but you would never know it.

She is also relatively accident prone and has injured herself badly twice. Luckily, she has overcome everything and is happy and healthy these days. She is also a serious work horse. She does not do well with time off, so finding a balance between training and trying to take things slow has been a challenge for sure.

5. Any advice for someone considering adopting a Thoroughbred?

I would tell them to take their time. These horses are gritty and athletic but need time to adjust to new careers. Some jump in and take everything in stride and some just need more time. Having patience and working on the horse's schedule is the best way to get the most out of your OTTBs. Some like the time off and some want to go right back to work. There is definitely no one size fits all, so it's important to listen to your horse. 6. Anything else you want people to know about Secret?

She is absolutely perfect. I have never met a horse who so willingly meets new challenges and tries so hard. She absolutely loves jumping and would do it all day if I let her. She is a princess though and will tell you when she doesn’t like something.

It has been a rewarding challenge to meet her in the middle and figure out everything as a team, as you definitely can’t tell her what to do! But I wouldn’t have it any other way. She is also obsessed with peppermints and won’t eat any other treats.


A huge "thank you" to adopter Mackenzie for sharing her story with us and of course thank you to our partner Beyond the Wire that facilitated Secret retiring with After the Races as she transitioned from racehorse to show horse.

Stay tuned for another similar update next week!

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