Skip to Main Content

Maryland “Thoroughbred Makeover” Winners Receive December Touch of Class Awards

Award Recipients

From left: Board Chairman Jim Steele with Award Recipients Rebecca Walters, Michelle Warro and Neil Agate. (Photo by Jerry Dzierwinski of Maryland Jockey Club)

ANNAPOLIS, MD – The Maryland Horse Industry Board, a program within the Maryland Department of Agriculture, presented its December Touch of Class Award to three Maryland horse trainers who earned top honors at the 2015 Thoroughbred Makeover competition in Lexington, Kentucky. The awards were presented during the Thoroughbred Alliance Show Series banquet in Laurel on Dec. 5.

Award recipients were: Michelle Warro from Davidsonville (Anne Arundel County), Rebecca Walters from Fallston (Harford County) and Neil Agate from Germantown (Montgomery County). The awards were presented to the trainers, their horses and the horses’ owners and breeders by Horse  Board Chairman Jim Steele at the banquet.

The Thoroughbred Makeover competition featured 350 horses and trainers from 44 states, Canada and England who were tasked with re-training a Thoroughbred who had retired from racing within the past year and re-schooling it to excel in one of 10 different equestrian disciplines.

Warro, aboard the four-year-old gelding Best Things In Life—who had raced at Laurel as recently as last March—scored best in the Three-Day Eventing division as well as third in Dressage. Walters, on the six-year-old gelding, Feet Included, was the top amateur trainer in the Show Jumping division. Agate, riding his six-year-old mare, Demon, finished as the top amateur trainer in the polo division.

All three trainers also rode their horses. Owners and breeders of the horses who were foaled in Maryland were also honored and include Cynthia McGinnes of Thornmar Farm in Chestertown (owner-breeder, Best Things InLife) and Glade Valley Farm of Frederick (breeder, Feet Included). Walters and Agate also own their horses.

“It is entirely fitting that we honor these Maryland trainers and horses at the Thoroughbred Alliance banquet,” Steele said. “Like the Makeover contestants, the owners, trainers and riders in the Alliance show series re-school Thoroughbreds to excel in the show ring after they are finished with their racing careers.  Re-purposing the lives of Thoroughbred racehorses has become a tremendous part of our industry.”

The Maryland Horse Industry Board began the Touch of Class Award program five years ago to honor Maryland horses and people who achieve national and international recognition. The Award is given in memory of Touch of Class, a Maryland-bred mare who won two show jumping gold medals at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. For more information, contact Executive Director Ross Peddicord at or 410-841-5798.


Contact Information

If you have any questions, need additional information or would like to arrange an interview, please contact:
Jessica Hackett
Director of Communications
Telephone: 410-841-5888