June 2, 2019

Memorial Day 2019

On Monday friends and supporters gathered to remember the horses who passed over the last year. The forecasted rain did not arrive, the weather was kindly cool, and the mood was gentle and loving. Mary Simon’s eulogies reminded us of the highlights of each horse’s career and honored each as a unique, and irreplacable, individual, and Vivian Morrison shared her loving tribute to late Old Friends volunteer Bea Snyder.

Afterward, attendees’ hearts were lifted as they visited the living horses, who didn’t at all mind cheering their admirers with their majestic kindness (Silver Charm), clowning (Special Ring and Popcorn Deelites), bravado (War Emblem), youthful fun (Game On Dude and Little Mike), and venerable wisdom (Alphabet Soup, Dinard).

Among the written memories shared with us by attendees were these poignant testimonials to the love and inspiration that the unique beauty, openness and courage of a horse can inspire.

Danthebluegrassman

Danthebluegrassman a.k.a. Danny Boy was my favorite, since my 1st visit in 2009. He remained my favorite throughout the years & I was blessed to visit him 6 times. He never failed to leave his slobber kisses on my shirt, which I loved. He will always remain in my heart. Thank you to everyone at Old Friends for all you do.
Love,
Pattie, Pickens, South Carolina

When Joyce and I first started volunteering at OF I was attempting to do a rudimentary repair on his paddock fence. I had zero knowledge of race horses other than to handicap them. Dan came over to where I was working to my uneasyness with him in my face, MR CURIOUS! He started my love of these amazing animals as more than just an athlete running in races.
Ken, Lexington, Kentucky

 

Genuine Reward

My sister Doreen & I live in NYC, but we love horses!! We have been coming to Lexington for 6 years now to enjoy the farms. Doreen passed away on April 3, 2019 and I am here honoring her.
Your dam, the truly brilliant & beautiful Genuine Risk, was one of our favorite race horses of all time. When Nancy Hapgood brought us to Old Friends we cried with joy to see you!!
P. S., You are frolicking with your beautiful mother Genuine Risk—& I know you are kissing my sister Doreen right now. Enjoy the flowers I left for you. It’s hard for people to visit Lexington who don’t drive, but we always loved seeing you. RIP!
Don, New York City

 

Regal Sanction

I’ll never forget my first sight of Regal Sanction in 2012, standing at the top of “his” hill, next to his trees with his gorgeous mane & tail blowing in the breeze. He spied us & immediately began coming to us, thrilling me, though I’m sure he was mostly anticipating carrots! It was love at first sight & I believe he knew from that moment. I immediately went to Pinkston’s and ordered him a gorgeous stud halter, which was actually too heavy for him to wear. I brought it back & presented it to him—he knew it was his!! On subsequent visits I just spent all of my time visiting him—he would hang out next to me the whole time, let me pet him & talk to him. I believe he truly understood how much I loved him & always will. I was truly blessed to know him. I now wear a locket holding hairs from his tail & will always cherish it. He was one of the most beautiful horses I’ve ever seen & will always be in my heart. I truly hope we may have more time together on the other side.
Sue, Sun Valley, Idaho

 

Silver Ray

Silver Ray was the most gentle, sweet, amiable horse I’ve ever known. From our first visit here, he became our favorite. We always made sure that he would be on the tour.
Mike  and Debbi, Chilhowie, Virginia

These horses’ lives were celebrated this Memorial Day. Geri and Yankee Fortune will be honored next Memorial Day.

Main farm residents

A P Valentine
Bint Marscay
Danthebluegrassman
Gasconade
Genuine Reward
Highland Ack (Landy)
I’m Charismatic
Lusty Latin
Napoli Express
Ready’s Rocket
Regal Sanction
Santona
Silver Ray

our other locations

Black Tie Countess
Driven By Success
Say Florida Sandy

We will never forget them.

Beth
photos by Laura

 

 

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May 31, 2019

Yankee Fourtune (2007-2019)

As many of you know, we had to bid a loving goodbye to Yankee Fourtune only three days after losing Geri. Yankee’s passing was not unexpected, but as Michael said, “You always hope you can keep them a little longer.” Yankee won two graded stakes on the turf and in another finished third to future Old Friends colleague Little Mike and ahead of future retiree Nicanor. Most who visited him at the Georgetown Farm knew him as Game On Dude’s first paddock mate.

Yankee and Game On Dude grazing together in 2015

Yankee’s exceptionally sweet nature made him a perfect companion for the Dude as both settled into retirement. This picture of them grazing together shows a frequent sight. They were just as companionable when sharing admiration and treats from their visitors. All was beautifully happy between these two smart, peaceable horses.

Unfortunately, Yankee had arthritis and a time came when he could no longer keep up with the frolicking Dude loves to do. To keep Yankee from overdoing it, he was moved to another paddock with two less energetic companions, Regal Sanction and Bonapaw.

Not that it meant nobody in this new herd ever had fun.

Visitors to the farm saw less of Yankee in the last few years. That paddock was off the tour route, a little too far to take the tours and still be able to visit Popcorn Deelites & Special Ring, Touch Gold, and others on the the north side of the farm. But Yankee and his friends were near the barn and he continued to enjoy private tours as well as frequent carrot and love sessions with volunteers, and of course observation and daily hands-on care from the barn staff.

Over the years the population in that paddock changed as Bonapaw passed and Saratoga Episode moved in, then more recently, Easy Grades, who benefits from a less rambunctious herd than formerly, moved in after Regal Sanction passed last year. That was Yankee’s last “family,” he, Easy Grades and Saratoga Episode. Yankee was always liked by every one of his companions.

Yankee Fourtune with Saratoga Episode in the background

Though there was no cure for Yankee’s arthritic ankle, it caught up with him only gradually. He had years when for the most part when he felt great.

If only we could have held back time’s inevitable changes! Carole and Antonio, who gave Yankee special care, came pretty close to doing that. Thanks to their tireless watchfulness and adjustments to Yankee’s regimen, he continued to live the good life for years, enjoyed his feed, his grass and hay, and the companionship of horses whose kindness suited his own gentleness and whose quiet lifestyle matched his own. But his condition gradually caught up with him. Things got harder for him despite all that could be done. Last Tuesday he let us know it was time.

How much he’s missed by Easy Grades and Saratoga Episode is evident in how close together they’re now grazing, seeming to take comfort in each other. We all miss Yankee Fourtune. He was one of the sweetest, kindest residents we ever had.

Beth
photos by Laura

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May 29, 2019

20190529 Geri

Geri (1992-2019)

Whether in triumph or defeat, Geri’s quickness and courage were memorable. His victories include the 1996 Oaklawn H (G1) and Creme Fraiche H (G3) on the dirt, and the 1997 Citation H (G2) and Woodbine Mile on the turf. He showed exceptional heart when he missed winning the 1997 Caesars International H (G1) by a nose, and no less in the 1997 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) where undaunted by being outrun by one horse he bested the rest with a determined charge.

20190529 Geri 5

But how to find words to describe Geri as a friend? He could be dictatorial, temperamental, but he inspired in those who knew him an enduring love. Not just for his flamelike beauty and unconquerable spirit, though he had those qualities in abundance.

20190529 Geri 2

In his own way Geri was affectionate. If he liked you, he was possessive. He expected to be catered to, but he’d often return the favor. He’d walk away to show his independence, make a circle and walk back to you. If you walked, he’d follow. He wasn’t very tolerant of petting, but he adored having his mane combed. His eyes would close. Blissful relaxation would come over his face, his ears, and finally his whole body. Then you could stroke him, drape your arm over him, and if horses could purr, he would’ve.

20190529 Geri 3

I think the hardest thing for Geri was when his front teeth had to be extracted. A few years ago he developed a painful dental condition and the extractions relieved his discomfort. But he liked to bite, and when he lost that way of enforcing respect he moped for a few weeks. “Really, Geri?” we asked him. “You can rear and run like the wind, and you imagine you don’t impress us anymore?” Soon he realized he still commanded our full respect and perked up. He ate wetted feed, grazed normally, enjoyed his hay, and on tours got specially shredded carrots. And when in the mood, he gummed us.

20190529 Geri gummin

Gummin’

He liked watching the mares across the road at Summer Wind Farm and hanging out by the fence near his fellow retirees. His particular buddies over the years were Mixed Pleasure, Alphabet Soup, Albert the Great, and off-and-on, Sun King. He and Ide peaceably ignored each other.

20171114 Geri and the Heron

Geri napping in the warm sun. (Or girl-watching?)

Geri never lost his enthusiasm for meal times, and at 27 his body condition was perfect. We hoped we’d have his companionship for years to come. But colic is cruel in its suddenness. Antonio, Selso, all of us tending him, hoped he’d recover. To Dr. Waldridge treating him at Park Equine Hospital and Michael who was with him there, it seemed he would. But that was not to be.

His empty paddock seems like a hole in the universe.

But I hope all of you who loved Geri will join me in taking comfort that he was well cared for during his whole life. On his last morning he was tended by those who loved him, and he knew it.

Michael, who was Geri’s racetrack fan before becoming his friend, shared these insights:

“Geri was as competitive and haughty a Thoroughbred as ever set hoof on our farm. From his days as a stakes winner to his final days in his paddock by the pond, his formidable intelligence and iron will never wavered. Like Theatrical, his sire, Geri’s good looks couldn’t disguise his internal fire.”

20190529 Geri 1

Interesting how descriptions of Geri so often include the word “fire.” Fittingly so. He was an elemental.

We don’t have to compose an epitaph for Geri. Shakespeare already did.

He is pure air and fire.

 

Beth
photos by Laura

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May 10, 2018

190508 Santona 1

Santona (1994-2019)

The big mare herd isn’t at all the same without Santona. Chilean champion filly, dam of stakes winners, and boss mare extraordinaire, Santona mattered wherever she went and whatever she did.

When her careers as racehorse, then mom, were done and owner Earle Mack enabled Santona’s retirement to Old Friends, Santona settled in as if the farm was hers. Soon the mares she moved in with were very much hers, and she reigned over them absolutely right up to the end. Being herd animals, horses find security in a consistent social order, and the wise old mare always provided that.

190508 Santona 2

With people, Santona was a bit bossy too, but friendly and kindly, a horse who enjoyed attention and behaved with intelligent, confident benevolence. Her responsiveness and gentleness with her visitors was unfailing.

It’s odd how much smaller her herd seems without her, as if in losing Santona we’d lost not one but several horses. Though a big mare physically, it was in personality that Santona was larger than life.

190508 Santona 4

It’s Miss Hooligan who misses her the most. “Miss Hoolie” was an old timer with us when Santona arrived, and for awhile she couldn’t seem to make up her mind whether she wanted to be Hidden Lake’s friend or Santona’s. Once she chose Santona, she stuck by her faithfully.

190508 Miss Hooligan Euronfire

Miss Hooligan (R) with Euronfire

As you can see from this photo of her with Euronfire, Miss Hooligan gets along well with the other girls and won’t be without friends (horse and human), but just now it’s a little tough for her I think.

As it is for Carole, Antonio, Laura, and all who had the privilege to know and help care for Santona. She was a truly considerable personality, one of a kind.

190508 Santona 3

Beth
photos by Laura

*

May 11th

Rick Capone has shared with the blog these four more great photos of Santona. Thank you, Rick!

190511 Santona 2 Rick

Santona, by Rick Capone

190511 Santona-MuddyGirl-R Capone

Muddy girl. Santona, by Rick Capone

190511 Santona-PortraitInTheSky R Capone

Santona by Rick Capone

190511 Santona 1 Rick

Santona, by Rick Capone

Rick is, of course, the author of History of Old Friends and the sequel, Celebrating Old Friends, both available through our gift shop.

 

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May 4, 2019

Kentucky Derby Day

On this Kentucky Derby day, the twentieth anniversary of 1999 Kentucky Derby winner Charismatic’s victory, we lovingly remember the brilliant racehorse and bright, proud, friendly stallion who all too briefly lit up the farm with his presence.

190504 Charismatic

1999 Derby winner Charismatic at Old Friends in 2016

 

With joy we celebrate the Kentucky Derby winners and contenders living at the Georgetown farm today. For all of them, this is their day, the anniversary of a wonderful achievement, competition in the most legendary race in America, the Kentucky Derby.

190504 Silver Charm

1997 Kentucky Derby winner Silver Charm

170601 War Emblem

2002 Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem

Silver Charm and War Emblem were visited on Thursday by the their mutual trainer, Bob Baffert. Busy as he is readying his impressive current trainees, Mr. Baffert, as usual, looked in on his two retired Derby victors at Old Friends, and of course visited Game On Dude and his other former trainees.

Though only one horse emerges as winner, competition in the Derby is limited to the best of the best three year olds, and having run in a Kentucky Derby is, in itself, a high honor. So today we celebrate our wonderful guys…

20180726 Afternoon Deelites

1995 Kentucky Derby contender Afternoon Deelites

Afternoon Deelites also got a visit from a sharer in his old glory, Kent Desormeaux, who rode him in the ’95 Derby and in all his races, including a number of graded stakes wins.

20180405 Comma to the Top

Comma to the Top ran in the 2011 Derby

190504 Easy Grades

Easy Grades contended in the 2002 Kentucky Derby (War Emblem’s)

190504 Eye of the Tiger

Eye of the Tiger, 2003 Derby competitor

190504 Nobiz Like Shobiz

Nobiz Like Shobiz participated in the 2007 Derby

20171114 Smooth Air

Smooth Air ran in the 2008 Kentucky Derby

190504 Sun King

Sun King contended in the 2005 Kentucky Derby

While our Derby heroes may occasionally reflect on their past, this week they’ve been happily busy greeting the many visitors who’ve come to share this season and the beautiful spring weather with us.

They’ve all done a wonderful job meeting, greeting and wowing their guests through this busy week. All of us, horses and humans, look forward to sharing our Annual Homecoming Event with you tomorrow (Sunday, May 5, all afternoon). We hope to see you there!

Beth
all photos except Easy Grades are Laura’s

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April 17, 2019

I have a new iPad, so I thought it might be fun to make a few short videos of the horses from time to time. For now, my theme is Old Friends in Georgetown in the evening. What do the horses do after hours?

01 WE brochure 2019 little pic

As it turned out, yesterday evening, not that much. 2002 Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem walked around being War Emblem.

War Emblem on an April evening

 

smooth-air-sunlit-profile.jpg

Smooth Air (Smooth Jazz – Air France by French Deputy), winner of three Grade 2 stakes, the 2008 Hutcheson S, 2008 Ohio Derby, and 2009 Gulfstream H, was being particularly handsome. I think he came all the way over hoping for a carrot. Unfortunately, my iPad didn’t qualify as a treat.

Smooth Air at Sunset

Now that I know how much the iPad can store I hope to post somewhat longer clips as spring becomes summer. I can’t promise the horses will do much more than eat grass or mosey over to say hello, but for glimpses of after hours around the Old Friends, Georgetown paddocks, watch this space or subscribe to the new Old Friends Blog channel on Youtube.

Beth
still photos by Laura

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April 11, 2019

The following are only my point-and-shoot snapshots in yesterday’s dusk, so they’re not so great, but I just had to share the tale of Touch Gold and the Two Geese.

Yesterday two of our newer residents, Wake Forest and Talk Logistics, moved in together. Around sunset I went back to the farm to see how they were getting along.

190412 Wake Forest and Talk Logistics making friends 190410 06

Wake Forest (L) and Talk Logistics make friends.

Beautifully, it turned out. They grazed close together, tussled a little like foals, and seemed to be generally having a happy time getting to know each other. But a bit of a commotion in the paddock diagonal to theirs distracted me. Two geese had landed in Touch Gold’s paddock. Touch Gold was not pleased. He was pawing and snorting, telling them in no uncertain terms that Talk Logistics could share his paddock with Wake Forest if he wanted, but that did not mean that he, Touch Gold, had any intenion of sharing his home with geese.

Maybe that was too subtle for the geese. They paid him no attention. That, I think, added insult to injury. Clearly, they didn’t know who they were dealing with. The winner of the 1997 Belmont Stakes, the horse who denied the Triple Crown to Hall-of-Famer Silver Charm, no less. Plainly, those geese needed to be told what’s what. So he wheeled, and off he went!

 

190412 Touch Gold and the two geese 190410 01

The first charge scattered the enemy, but they didn’t retreat.

190412 Touch Gold and the two geese 190410 03

The second charge involved some fancier maneuvers.

190412 Touch Gold and the two geese 190410 06

190412 Touch Gold and the two geese 190410 07

Having put some fear into them, he returned to check in with his audience (I was the only audience on hand). Did I see that? Did I observe his formidable magnificence?

190412 Touch Gold and the two geese 190410 08

“Yes, I saw you,” I told him. “I am in awe of your stallionly majesty.” Needless to say, I totally meant it.

190412 Touch Gold and the two geese 190410 09

There was only one problem. The geese were still in his paddock.

Sorry for the blurry photo. He was moving too fast for me to follow with the camera.

190412 Touch Gold and the two geese 190410 10

Once more into the breach!

190412 Touch Gold and the two geese 190410 12

190412 Touch Gold and the two geese 190410 13

(That’s Popcorn Deelites who’s being oblivious in the background)

Again, the geese scattered. Satisfied, Touch Gold returned to me at the fence and celebrated a little. (Again, he was just too much for my photographic aim.)

190412 Touch Gold and the two geese 190410 14

190412 Touch Gold and the two geese 190410 16

Finally, the ever-vigilant warrior contemplated a job well done.

Beth

 

 

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March 28, 2019

Readys Rocket 04 LB

Ready’s Rocket 2003-2019

Ready’s Rocket was barely fifteen hands tall, scarcely bigger than a pony, but he was one of the most courageous horses ever to live at Old Friends. He won the most races at Churchill Downs of any horse in that track’s long history—eleven of them. He also won at Keeneland, Turfway, Ellis Park and Delta Downs.

Ready’s Rocket and his jockey, Calvin Borel, were well-paired, two dauntless warriors that when they were on their game, nothing and nobody could stop. Ready didn’t give Calvin much chance for the signature “Bo-rail” dash up the inside rail for a last moment win. Ready’s Rocket wanted to be in front all the time. He raced as fast and furiously as the Wildcats play basketball. Calvin understood and let him do what he did most happily and best—sprint to the front and out-brave all comers.

Readys Rocket 03 LB

When the gritty little gelding’s race career was done, owner-trainer Tim Glyshaw, along with co-owners Deann Baer and Margaret Woodside, enabled his retirement with us. We found he was aptly named. Sometimes we called him Ready, sometimes the Rocket. He was scrappy, gutsy, determined to show the world that little though he was, he wasn’t stepping down for anyone. He earned respect from his paddock mates. You could tell that’s how he’d decided it would be from foal-hood on.

Readys Rocket 01 LB

Perhaps surprisingly, Ready’s Rocket settled into retired life with evident contentment. He liked to spend some of his time apart from his paddock mates, but he always fit into the herd, definitely one of the gang. He spent his last years with one particular friend, Geronimo. The little dark brown Kentuckian and big chestnut Chilean were comfortable companions in a paddock up near the tree line.

Readys Rocket Geronimo LB

Ready’s Rocket and Geronimo

But words are just words. Let the Rocket himself show you why the steward’s official description of one of his Churchill races was that he won “on own courage.”

Here is Ready’s Rocket’s record 11th win at Churchill Downs, May 1, 2012.

Here’s another, on July 2, 2009.

See what it was like to ride Ready’s Rocket. Calvin Borel wore a jockey cam for a work, Nov 1, 2011

At Churchill Downs and at Old Friends we’ll always miss you, our Rocket Man, our valiant soul.

Beth
photos by Laura

Readys Rocket 02 LB

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March 20, 2019

190230 Dan1

Danthebluegrassman (1999-2019)

Danthebluegrassman. Our big, lovable lug. It’s hard to imagine Old Friends without him. For more than a decade Dan graced (if that’s the word) the Georgetown farm with his robustness, his distinctive golden good looks, and his forward personality. He would have been 20 years old this March 31.

On the Kentucky Derby trail in his youth, Dan won the Gold Rush Stakes at two and Golden Gate Derby (G3) at three, both these career bests under jockey and future Old Friends colleague, Joe Steiner. He competed against Old Friends retirees-to-be Lusty Latin (1999-2018) and Easy Grades. He also won the Northern Dancer Stakes at Churchill Downs.

190320 Dan and Michael

Dan and Michael get to know each other, early spring 2008

Dan’s race career continued through the age of 9, finally for a claiming tag of $7,500, before retirement to Old Friends in the spring of 2008. During his career he’d earned $423,794.

190320 Dan May 3 2008

Dan settles in at the farm, May 2008

Dan’s accomplishments didn’t end with retirement. He was celebrated in “The Ballad of Danthebluegrassman,” by the Gallatin County Youth Bluegrass Band, who performed the song at our May 2008 Homecoming, an event honoring Dan. The following year he took over mentoring a newer retiree, Flick (1992-2016), a grand old gelding who’d excelled on the turf for nearly ten years and wasn’t so sure what to make of the quiet of retirement. Paddock mate Dan showed him the art of goofing off. Under Dan’s guidance, Flick took to relaxation beautifully and they remained fast friends.

190320 Dan and Flick bts

Dan and Flick

Dan spent his last years with Fighting City Hall, eventually along with Arson Squad. When Dan began experiencing discomfort, he had not only the best of care from Dr. Waldridge and the staff, Arson Squad also did all a horse could do for his buddy’s wellbeing.

190320 Dan FCH and Arson

Dan, Fighting City Hall (center), and Arson Squad, January 2019.

190320 Dan and Arson

Danthebluegrassman and Arson Squad.

Danthebluegrassman had a reputation on the farm as an extrovert, a bit of a goof, and a confident, playful guy. He nipped a few people over the years, but in good humor. Danny had the gift of connecting with people. He’d look you in the eye and let you know what he wanted. Through all his years with us he was a constant and companionable friend.

Dan was big, and his presence was bigger. He was a character, one of a kind, and without him we are less than we were.

190320 Dan

Beth
photos 1, 5, 6, 7 – Laura
photos 2, 3, 4 – Beth

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March 11, 2019

Einstein!

Einstein arrives 100311 05

What a huge day it’s been at Old Friends! Today a much beloved star of racing came to live with us. Einstein, 5-time Grade 1 winner, G 1 & 2 victor on all three surfaces, won the 2009 Santa Anita Handicap (G1), 2008 & 2009 Woodford Reserve (G1), 2006 & 2008 Gulfstream Park Turf Stakes (G1), 2008 Clark Handicap (G2), and 2007 Mervin H. Muniz, Jr. Memorial (G2). Besides that, he ran close seconds in the 2009 Pacific Classic (G1), 2008 Maker’s Mark Mile (G1) and 2008 Firecracker Stakes (G2), and also beat all but one (Curlin) in the Stephen Foster Stakes (G1). What a phenomenal resume!

Trained by Helen Pitts, Einstein impressed his fans with his formidable combination of athletic power and tactical intelligence in race after race from ages 4 through 7. He earned nearly $3 million and he beat several of our other most talented residents in the process. He finished his career in the ownership of  Stronach Stables, did stud duty at Adena Springs in Kentucky and Ontario, then Daehling Ranch in California. Now that his breeding career is done, we’re hugely thrilled and honored to be his new home. Many thanks from all at Old Friends to Frank Stronach for enabling Einstein’s retirement to Old Friends and his continued generosity on Einstein’s, Alphabet Soup’s, and Touch Gold’s behalf.

Einstein’s arrival went smoothly, facilitated by Donald Wells, Farm Manager at Adena Springs, who stayed to watch him settle safely in, share information with Michael and our barn staff, and to visit with Alphabet Soup and look in on Touch Gold (who made it clear that napping was, at the moment, more important that mere humans). As for Einstein, by then he’d already showed his approval of his stall by rolling in it and was snacking contentedly on hay.

Einstein arrives 100311 01

Einstein takes ownership of his stall and hay

Having approved of his stall, he turned his attention to us, greeting each of us with lively interest and friendliness.

Einstein arrives 100311 02

Einstein arrives 100311 08

As you can see from the sign on his stall, he’s in the three week quarantine that is the required routine for all new arrivals. When the quarantine is over, he will participate in the tours like his fellow residents. So all you Einstein fans, mark your calendars. For the ultimate Einstein experience, make plans to visit with him from April on.

Einstein was so cool, calm and collected that it was clear he was ready to enjoy the early spring sunshine in the round pen adjoining his stall. He walked out with confidence and made himself at home, quietly sniffing things, taking in the sights, sounds and smells, and impressing us with his beauty and self-possession.

Einstein arrives 100311 15

Einstein arrives 100311 12

Well, I mean really, should we have been surprised that Einstein is really smart?

Einstein arrives 100311 14

How incredibly lucky and honored we are to have this great athlete and star in our care!

Beth
(words and snapshots)

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