Grade 1-winning New York-based trainer Rick Violette will judge the 84th annual Maryland Horse Breeders Association Yearling Show. Open to all yearlings eligible for Maryland-bred registration, the show will be held at the Maryland State Fairgrounds’ Horse Show Ring in Timonium on Sunday, June 24. Entries close Friday, June 1.
Violette’s achievements in racing extend far beyond the backstretch. In addition to being a successful trainer, he was president of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (NYTHA) for nearly a decade (from 2008 through 2017) as well as president, and first Director Emeritus, of the national Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association. He is currently president of TAKE2, a program sponsored by the NYTHA and co-founder New York Thoroughbred Breeders Inc. with the goal to create a market for retired racehorses beyond the racetrack.
Violette was a show horse rider and galloped racehorses part time before taking out his trainer’s license and getting his first winner at Rockingham Park in 1977 at age 24. He was assistant trainer to David Whiteley before launching a public stable in 1983. Top runners to come out of Violette’s barn include 2017 Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes-G1 winner Diversify, multiple Grade 1-winning filly Dream Rush, Grade 1 turf winner Man From Wicklow, and multiple graded stakes winners Upstart and Read the Footnotes. Violette regularly makes selections for his clients at public auctions, among the purchases have been Diversify and Read the Footnotes, the latter the $320,000 sales topper the 2003 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training sale.
The list of judges in the MHBA Yearling Show’s long history is a who’s who of renowned horsemen. The celebrated group includes 26 Hall of Famers and Triple Crown-winning trainers James “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons, Max Hirsch, Lucien Laurin and Billy Turner. Among Maryland-bred yearlings to have competed in the show are Eclipse Award-winning Hall of Famer Safely Kept, Eclipse Award-winning juveniles Smart Angle and Declan’s Moon, and millionaires Cathryn Sophia, Urbane and Cherokee’s Boy.