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Thoroughbred
a new series from Animal Planet
Episode Summaries

Run Fast, Dream Big
Premieres Tuesday, April 3, from 8-8:30 PM (ET/PT)

Maryland's Bonita Farm, a rare family-owned thoroughbred farm is home to three generations of the Boniface family who share in the toil and triumph of breeding, raising, and training what they hope will be champion racehorses. It is mid-fall, and the family is working hard to get four of their top thoroughbreds ready for the state's biggest race, the Maryland Million. In this episode, viewers will be introduced to a promising filly named Christmas Shoes who looks like she could go all the way. This family is no stranger to the winner's circle: in 1983, their horse Deputed Testimony came out of nowhere to win the Preakness Stakes, launching Bonita Farm to national prominence, and sparking their quest to regain Triple Crown race glory again.

The Auction
Premieres Tuesday, April 10, from 8-8:30 PM (ET/PT)

It is late fall at Bonita Farm - a critical time of year for the Boniface family. With an injury to their star horse, the filly named Christmas Shoes, Head Trainer Bill and his son Kevin must do everything in their power to get her back to the winner's circle. Their hopes for her comeback hang on a rapidly approaching race at Penn National, but will she be ready to meet the challenge? Meanwhile, youngest son John has only seven weeks to take 24 untrained young thoroughbreds and begin their transformation into racehorses. This is the first time these horses will feel the touch of a bit or the weight of a rider, and John will have to call on his years of experience to gently tame the most skittish of horses. If he succeeds, his young charges will parade around the track at the Boniface's annual Yearling Show for potential investors. The show goes well, but the real test comes when the yearlings are auctioned off for half-interest - a way to raise the money the Bonifaces need to keep their horses on the farm.

Triple Crown Hopeful
Premieres Tuesday, April 17, from 8-8:30 PM (ET/PT)

At Bonita Farm, the harsh winter is making it even tougher than usual to care for more than 150 thoroughbreds. Head Trainer Bill Boniface and his middle son Kevin are intent on getting their Triple Crown hopeful, Forging, in top condition before his first race. But the training track at the farm is frozen solid, so they must take the horse to a nearby racetrack where constant use is keeping the surface soft. Overcoming the weather is only the first obstacle - getting this big, stunning colt to stop acting like a teenage boy and start focusing, is the next. After the training session, they're pleased with Forging's performance - he is ready to run in the first race of his life. Meanwhile, in the mare barn, a snowstorm hasn't stopped oldest son Billy from his duties of caring for about 40 pregnant mares. One, named Proud Greida, has an unusual problem that is baffling everybody - she's overdue by nearly a month. Even when a vet arrives to do an ultrasound, he can't diagnose what is happening. Time, however, is of the essence, as the other mares will begin delivering what could be a new generation of champions.

The Tiniest Foal
Premieres Tuesday, May 1, from 8-8:30 PM (ET/PT)

Having battled through the winter months, Head Trainer Bill Boniface and his son Kevin have their Triple Crown hopeful, Forging, ready to compete in the first race of his life. But at the race, he delivers a shaky performance. Undaunted, Bill reminds his son that even Secretariat lost his first race. Forging will have a chance to redeem himself - another race is coming up soon. Meanwhile, as midnight approaches in the mare barn, on one of the winter's most frigid nights, the extremely overdue Proud Greida finally gives birth. After receiving a phone call from the night watchman, Billy rushes to the barn to find a foal that is half of normal size and barely alive. To save the baby horse from near certain death, Billy nurses it through the night, hand feeding it with a baby bottle. By morning, Billy has kept the foal alive. Born on Saint Patrick's Day, he names the foal Patrick. Thanks to his loving care, soon Patrick is strong enough to be put out in the pasture with his mother like all the other colts. Next, over in the training barn, everyone is in high spirits - the Bonifaces have hit a winning streak, with five wins in a row. But Forging can't keep the streak going. In his next race, he performs poorly again. To make matters worse, he is injured, and Bill and Kevin must decide if Bonita Farm's bid for the Triple Crown is over for this year.

The Big Tease
Premieres Tuesday, May 8, from 8-8:30 PM (ET/PT)

At Bonita Farm, Bill and Kevin have high hopes for a 3-year-old colt named Northbridge - a son of the farm's Preakness champion, Deputed Testamony. Unfortunately, Northbridge isn't showing his father's heart and determination in training. Still, Bill and Kevin believe in the young horse. Despite his lackluster performance during training, they think he might be the kind of horse that saves his energy for race day. There's only one way to find out, so they take him to the track for a race. He puts on a spectacular performance - winning the race decidedly. Meanwhile, in the mare barn, oldest son Billy and his vets are coping with a foal that has been born with feeble legs and can't stand up on its own. Northbridge's big win and the foal's struggle to survive show once again that there is no such thing as a restful day at Bonita Farm.

The Comeback
Premieres Tuesday, May 22, from 8-8:30 PM (ET/PT)

The Comeback focuses on Kevin's efforts to help an aging champion, Winsox, get back to the winner's circle. Kevin has a special bond with the horse, having trained and ridden him for seven years through an immensely successful career. But now the nine-year-old horse is coming off an injury and hasn't raced for a year, so Kevin and Bill begin to train him very cautiously - if they see just one tiny hobble, they'll retire Winsox. He gets the best of care as they train him, and even gets a visit from an acupuncturist to keep him limber and well. Soon, he is performing well in training, and is almost ready to run in his first race since his injury. Then, misfortune strikes. During routine training, he starts limping, having re-injured his ankle. Bill and Kevin are left no other choice but to retire the horse. But it's not the end of his days at Bonita Farm. Kevin has grown so close to Winsox, that he will make him his riding horse, and Winsox will live out his days on the farm, being loved and cared for by Kevin. Meanwhile, at the other end of the 400 acre farm, youngest son John is getting a new group of one-year-old horses ready for the first performance of their lives - a yearling show. It's a family affair, as he also trains his nieces and nephews on the basics of horsemanship as they help train the yearlings. They'll have to learn quickly as the kids will be the ones who lead the yearlings at the show - a 100-year-old Maryland tradition where John and his brothers competed when they were young. Finally, as foaling season ends, oldest son Billy faces a life and death emergency - he's got only seconds to keep the farm's most valuable foal from suffocating during delivery.

Fast Breaks
Premieres Tuesday, May 29, from 8-8:30 PM (ET/PT)

In this episode, a new group of two-year-old horses enter the training barn. On the first day of training, Bill and Kevin run them on an indoor track to ease them into the process. Soon they move outside to run on the training track and, not long after that, they are entering the gate for the first time in their lives. One beautiful chestnut colt, Charlie Irish, has a great pedigree, but is having a hard time coping with all the new changes in his life. He is nervous as he enters the gate for the first time; when the doors close, he becomes very skittish, and finally rears up, throwing rider and smashing his head on the top of the gate. It's a tense moment as the Bonifaces get him out of the gate and back to safety. On a second try, Charlie faces his fear with a strong start from the gate. He's ready to race. Later, youngest John and the kids have arrived at the yearling show. The other brothers and their wives show up to help as they show off 12 of Bonita Farm's most impressive yearlings. Meanwhile, the filly Christmas Shoes is battling back after a major setback. After a routine operation she can't seem to run as fast as she once could. A vet comes to the farm to check on her condition and his pessimistic prognosis forces the Bonifaces to confront the possibility that one of their most promising horses, one who they've spent countless hours nurturing, training and loving, may never race again.

Country Horse, City Race
Premieres Tuesday, June 6, from 8-8:30 PM (ET/PT)

This episode will allow viewers to travel in the Bonita Farm horse van up the Eastern Seaboard, to follow Kevin and his wife Chris, as they take a nervous filly to a race near New York City. Meanwhile, back at the farm, viewers will meet the man who gets assigned the toughest horses in the barn - Shorty. A salty old horseman, Shorty has been with the farm for thirty years riding racehorses. As he rides the most difficult horses in the barn, he reveals his secrets of what it takes to control the most high-strung thoroughbreds. Finally, viewers can join the family as two of the grandchildren ride in the first races of their lives. They get plenty of advice before their pony races, as they try to live up to their family's legacy. After winning his race, Kevin's son Fritz gets his first lesson about the highs and lows that are a part of horse racing when he gets disqualified for a minor mistake.

Jump Start
Premieres Tuesday, June 12, from 8-8:30 PM (ET/PT)

At Bonita Farm, youngest son John wants to prove himself as a steeplechase trainer. As he trains three horses for a big race in one of the capitals of horse racing, Saratoga, New York, a nasty accident happens. On a rainy day, as one horse makes a practice jump, the rider loses control and both horse and rider crash into a fence then hit the ground. In the end, both come away without any major injuries. Then, on race day in Saratoga, John and Bill get terrible news. The jockey they handpicked to ride their best horse - the best in the country and a friend of John's - passed away two days earlier in a freak accident. Despite his anguish, John stays focused on the race and quickly lines up another top-ranked jockey. But the jockey breaks his ankle just before the race, and at the last minute, John and his father scramble to find any jockey available to ride the horse. The horse makes a last minute bid as he charges from behind, and quickly passes other horses in a dramatic surge toward the finish line that offers John hope that the horse may be a champion someday. Back at the farm, a traumatic time of year has arrived for Bonita's youngest horses - the moment when their mothers are taken away. Billy and his wife Barbara wean two of the year's foals. The five-month-old horses are separated from their mothers and put in pastures far apart. For hours, mothers and babies cry out for each other, yet by the following day, they are fine. Elsewhere on Bonita Farm, Kevin and his wife Chris train a filly named Essee's Lass for a race, and viewers will learn where the horse got her determination.

The Legend's Son
Premieres Tuesday, June 19, from 8-8:30 PM (ET/PT)

In this episode, Bill and Kevin begin training an unraced two-year-old colt named Astral Ascent. The son of the farm's Preakness champion Deputed Testamony, they have high hopes for him. When the horse disappoints them during training at the farm, they decide that he may need the excitement of the racetrack to give him the spark he needs. So they take him to train at Delaware Park. While they're at the race track, Astral also tries to earn his 'gate card' - a license that all horses must have to be eligible to race - but he won't get it unless he can prove that he can stay calm and break away cleanly. Though hesitant at first, with a little help Astral enters the gate. When it opens, he charges away like a true race horse and bolts around the track with such confidence that he has the family thinking that he might just have what it takes to follow in his fanous father's footsteps. Meanwhile, back at the farm, there's a new face in the barn. Bill's oldest daughter Kim is visiting. She lives in Kentucky where she's been trying to make it as a trainer on her own - a tough thing to do in a profession dominated by men. She's stopping by the farm for a few weeks with her stunning colt Field Cat before taking him to a race at Delaware Park. Field Cat is the kind of top quality horse that could catapult Kim's career if he can bring home the wins. Finally, viewers will be reintroduced to Patrick, the year's tiniest foal whose life Billy saved at birth, as he faces a critical rite of passage - he's grown old enough to be weaned. In fact, he's made such great progress that Billy registers him as a true thoroughbred so he'll be eligible to race some day. It's a long shot, but as Billy says, "he's a real fighter."

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