People’s Choice: Icabad Crane wins crown

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It’s official. Icabad Crane is “America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred.” Graham and Anita Motion’s up-and-coming event horse bested competitors from nine other disciplines Sunday at Pimlico Race Course during the Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium.

It was the 9-year-old gelding’s first trip to Pimlico since he finished third behind Big Brown in the 2008 Preakness Stakes.

Olympian Phillip Dutton, Icabad Crane’s trainer and regular rider, was admittedly curious to see how he would handle the situation. No worries, mate. Although the Australian laughed during Icabad Crane’s early warm-up that “He’s shaking beneath me,” the New York-bred was the consummate professional when their turn came later that afternoon.

Dutton showcased Icabad Crane’s athleticism and responsiveness through a four-stride combination of vertical jumps in front of the grandstand rail. Starting at four strides, he then went through the grid in five, six, seven and eight strides before powering through one last time again in four strides. Immediately after completing that last pass, Dutton dismounted and legged up his 13-year-old daughter, Olivia, into the saddle.

Without missing a beat, the bay son of Jump Start swung into a lively, controlled trot in perfect frame.

“See,” Dutton said, “right away, he knows who’s up there.”

A crowd of nearly 700 watched the competition at the track, with an estimated 5,000 more viewers following along on the live stream presented on Bloodhorse.com. Among that number were the Motions, in France for the weekend and therefore unable to attend first-hand. More than 10,000 votes were cast in the compeition, with Icabad Crane winning by 120 votes over Pookie’s Princess (western dressage) with Discreet Dancer third and D’Sauvage fourth.

 “The whole afternoon was pretty incredible and inspiring watching these off-track Thoroughbreds – where their lives have gone and what the other trainers have been able to achieve with them in all these other disciplines,” Dutton said.

Icabad Crane’s winner’s share of the $10,000 purse will be donated by the Motions to Thoroughbred charities.

For a full recap of the event including video, see the Retired Racehorse Project website.,