August 2019 - Thoroughbred Makeover: California Contenders
Written by by Kaitlyn Zaleski
Wednesday, 31 July 2019 20:41


Eight California Thoroughbred trainers headed for Kentucky this fall.

by Kaitlyn Zaleski

Hot summer days and a busy schedule while getting ready for my wedding at the end of July led to a quiet month for Hula’s Thoroughbred Makeover training. Considering the very active spring and early summer that we’ve had, I think this has actually been the perfect excuse to give Hula some down time. We did recently take one trip into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada for the day to do some hill work. She has become such a pro at hauling that the trip required zero training moments and was just pure fun! She even expertly navigated three different water crossings, something we’ve struggled with in the past.

Because I don’t have much to write about Hula this month, I’d like to take the opportunity to highlight some of the other Thoroughbred Makeover competitors that will be heading east to Kentucky with their horses this fall. Earlier this year, 673 trainers were accepted into the 2019 Thoroughbred Makeover program. A mere eight of those were Californians! Here are the stories of a couple to watch out for.

Sarah & Austria. Photo: Kylie DeJesus

Sarah and Austria


Sarah Nichols Jolley is the eventing trainer at Pebble Beach Equestrian Center in Pebble Beach.  Her program has a large emphasis on retraining OTTBs in addition to offering a competitive show team. Sarah’s Makeover horse, Austria, is a 5-year-old gray mare with 28 starts. The pair first met about three years ago when Austria was a 2-year-old and Sarah was looking at another prospect. She nickered at Sarah over the top of her hay net and it was love at first sight!

Sarah diligently followed Austria throughout her racing career, and snatched her up the minute she could upon the completion of her last race. The plan for this pair is to compete in the eventing discipline at the Makeover this October. So far, Austria has schooled and competed at Twin Rivers, Woodside and Santa Cruz. She has been a pleasure to train and Sarah is really looking forward to the journey to Kentucky this fall. She attributes her success to the love and support of her family, farrier, veterinarians, colleagues, and trainers.

Follow Sarah and Austria’s journey on Instagram @glamazon8.

Ann & Westley

Ann and Westley

Ann Marie Moznett-Avansino has been a part of a farming and ranching family in Linden, California for six generations. Her family was involved with Thoroughbred racehorses in Northern California for many years. While living in San Diego, Ann Marie co-founded Winner’s Circle Ranch, a non-profit organization for at-risk youth and racehorse adoption.

Ann Marie will be competing with Southern Keys, also known as Westley, in Kentucky. She has her sights set on the Western Dressage and Ranch Riding disciplines. Westley is a 6-year-old bay gelding with eight starts, racing at Golden Gate Fields, Del Mar, and Santa Anita. Westley is Florida-born and was given his name to honor a famous Pirate from the movie Princess Bride.

This pirate’s response to his true love was always “as you wish” which aligns with Westley’s sweet personality and willingness to please.

Westley is for sale, like many of the horses headed to the Makeover, and has been ridden with an emphasis on Ranch Riding and Western Dressage. He would also make a lovely dressage or Equitation prospect.

Follow Ann Marie and Westley’s journey on Instagram @tbmakeover_westley and Facebook @RRPSouthernKeys.

Ali & Percy

Ali and Percy

Ali Dacher is the cofounder of the CANTER California. Her mount for the Makeover is Ice Bank, known around the barn as Percy. Percy is a 5-year-old dark bay gelding that had 11 starts at the track. Ali has been blogging diligently at Check it out to follow their journey!

Kaitlyn & Hula

The Thoroughbred Makeover will be held at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY on October 2-5, 2019. We are less than 100 days away, so get excited to cheer on these California competitors!