Golden Altar (a.k.a. Zeus), a horse owned by Gina Bortner Woods ’93 of Chambersburg, tried out April 30 as part of a jumper prospect contest being sponsored by John Madden Sales.
Zeus, a 9-year-old thoroughbred gelding, is one of five semi-finalists chosen from among 130 horses from around the nation vying to win the Breeder’s Bridge to High Performance contest.
Zeus was ridden during the tryout by Callie Schott, a young Grand Prix rider who works with well-known horse trainer John Madden and Olympic rider Beezie Madden of Madden Sales, a New York state-based company that cultivates horses for competitions such as the Olympics.
The winner of the contest will receive three months of free training and board at Madden Sales.
Zeus is a former racehorse who has shown outstanding promise in his new career in the show world, according to Woods. His great-great-grandfather was the legendary Secretariat, she said.
“He’s a star to me so I’m just really pleased other people have recognized his potential to be a star,” said Woods, who purchased Zeus from owners who were racing him at Charles Town Races as a six-year-old. After hearing about him from a friends, she went to see him at the track and placed a $20 bet on him to win, which he promptly did.
“He was everything the trainer said he was and we were very happy with him,” Woods said. “He has a great work ethic. He wants to get to work right away.”
When Woods heard about the Madden contest, she entered Zeus because she felt he could benefit from the training and perhaps go on to have a brilliant second career. She entered information, photos and a video of her riding Zeus “on a whim” and he was chosen as a finalist.
For the past three months, Wilson’s Jessica Bortner-Harris ’06 has ridden Zeus in several events to sharpen his skills, Woods said. Bortner-Harris (no relation to Gina Bortner Woods) also trains and competes professionally in the equestrian sport of three-day eventing.
After the five semi-finalists are all visited in person and ridden by Schott, Madden Sales will announce the winner around June 1.