FORMER MANDELLA TRAINEE UNMARKED BILLS ENJOYING PRODUCTIVE CAREER AS ‘SPORT HORSE’ AT AGE 10 AS HE COMPETES FOR FORMER JOCKEY TURNED CHRB SAFETY STEWARD,NUESCH, AT KENTUCKY HORSE PARK
ARCADIA, Calif. (May 11, 2019)–A retired racehorse and a jockey-turned-CHRB Safety Steward acquitted themselves just fine, thank you, this past April 25-28, as the horse/owner duo finished 27th at the prestigious Land Rover Three-Day Event Competition at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.
Originally trained by Hall of Famer Richard Mandella, Unmarked Bills, a foal of 2009 who was bred in Kentucky by Diamond A Racing Corporation, raced at Hollywood Park and Santa Anita, where he broke his maiden for a $20,000 claiming tag on April 4, 2013.
Eventually owned by retired jockey David Nuesch and trained by his brother, Patrick Nuesch, Unmarked Bills finished his career at Penn National on Nov. 14, 2014 and retired with earnings of $67,250 from an overall race record of 24-3-6-2.
Prior to transitioning to his current position as CHRB Safety Steward at Los Alamitos, Nuesch, 49, had been a full-time exercise rider for Mandella in Southern California.
“Unmarked Bills, who we called ‘Billy,’ was one of my favorite rides and I just thought he was a nice horse in general, that loved his job,” said Nuesch. “He was just a cool customer that handled everything in stride, and although he found himself competing at the lower levels of racing here at Santa Anita, he couldn’t wait to go out and train every day.
“I purchased him from Diamond A and immediately sent him to my brother Patrick at our family training center, Braeburn, which is located in Virginia. Truthfully, my focus was (running him at one of) the many racing operations on the East Coast, not transitioning him into another career. It was my (future) wife Daryl that knew, with his physical appearance, if racing him back east didn’t pan out, he would make someone a nice ‘Sport Horse.'”
Although “Billy” did win two races for the brothers Nuesch, they decided that as the horse approached his 6-year-old campaign in December, 2014, it didn’t make sense for him to continue as a race horse.
At this point, Nuesch contacted a family friend, an event rider named Kate Samuels, for advice as to how he could find “Billy” a home where he’d be an active, event-type of horse. Eventually, Unmarked Bills was taken to a farm owned by the family of emerging eventing star Chris Talley in Crozet, Virginia, where he was prepped for sale as an eventer.
Although he was for sale, “Billy” remained unsold and with Talley due to a slight breathing issue and Nuesch and his wife Daryl were more than content to leave the arrangement as it was.
“This approach just felt right, as the two of them together had done so much in such a short period of time,” said Nuesch. So, as Chris Talley and “Billy” approached their recent five-star eventing competition this past month in Kentucky, horse and rider emerged as fan favorites and were cheered on by both Nuesch and his wife, who works as a full-time assistant to Santa Anita-based trainer Matt Chew.
“It was really incredible,” said Nuesch. “Even though my Dad was a three-day rider himself, it really didn’t sink in until we arrived in Lexington, what a big deal this was. Daryl and I both find it humorous that in the racing world, “Billy” would be considered an old man already, but at the tender age of 10, he was among the youngest equine participants at Land Rover this year.”
A devoted advocate for Thoroughbreds, Nuesch often recommends the California Retirement Management Account (CARMA) Placement Program to people who are retiring their racehorses.