We’ve had a request for more photos of Slim Shadey. As it happens, Laura just took some this weekend, so…
He’s still in the quarantine phase that all new arrivals go through, but new guys and girls in quarantine get to go out and play too, of course. He’s let us know he especially loves his turn-out time.
So, he’s obviously thinking, I see the people who come to visit feeding carrots to some other horses. How come when they admire me, talk and admiration is all I get?
But if he tries to tell you that his new life doesn’t include any treats, don’t believe it for a moment. Safety dictates careful procedures for a little while longer, but it doesn’t mean no love from the staff! Slim also lets us know he’s fond of the supplements snack he gets daily in addition to his regular feedings. Soon he’s expected to fully participate the tours, carrots from his admirers included.
Speaking of Laura’s photos from this weekend, while I’m at it, she caught Green Mask having a fantastic play session. He’s a lucky horse, and we’re lucky to get to share the joy he takes in life and in being able to impersonate the wind.
This week has been moving week. We have one new guy on the block. Several longtime residents have changed paddocks.
First, a big welcome to Slim Shadey, who moved into Old Friends two days ago. This grand old gelding (now 11 years old) from England ran in Great Britain, then came to America at the age of four. On the West Coast he won three graded stakes, the 2012 San Marcos Stakes (G2), the John Henry Turf Championship (G2) and he repeated his San Marcos Stakes (G2) victory in 2013. In 2014 he won the Elkwood Stakes at Monmouth Park. He acquitted himself well in other graded stakes during those years, finishing second to future Old Friends retiree Little Mike in the 2012 Woodford Reserve and competing again with Little Mike in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Turf. Slim Shadey continued to race and earn until last month, for a career total of more than a million dollars. Now, owner Michael M. Hui and trainer Michael Maker have enabled his new life at Old Friends.
Though Slim Shadey is an Englishman by birth, his pedigree features many well-known American favorites: Alysheba, Secretariat, Halo, Kiri’s Clown’s sire Foolish Pleasure, and Chief’s Crown.
By his first evening on the farm Slim Shadey had settled comfortably in. He’s curious about us, self-possessed, and every bit the old pro.
Slim Shadey says hello on his first evening at the farm. (Apologies for the blur. These my attempts at snapshots, so don’t blame Laura.)
Does he think this is another race track stall, I wonder? Just wait till he’s out of quarantine and discovers he’s in the land of blue grass and carrots! The routine quarantine for all new arrivals generally lasts 21 days, so if you’re in Lexington for next month’s Keeneland meet, come to Old Friends and feed Slim Shadey a carrot!
Amazombie (foreground) and Rapid Redux in their new paddock
The other moves are just from one paddock to another. The roster of horses you’re likely to see if you come for a tour hasn’t changed much, but you may be interested that Soi Phet and Hogy now live opposite Game On Dude and Little Mike.
Hogy (L) and Soi Phet now share the paddock where Amazombie and Rapid Redux used to be.
Both are friendly horses who have accomplished admirable feats on the track, and they’ll enjoy the extra love they’ll get in this key spot as much as their visitors will enjoy them. Amazombie and Rapid Redux have moved a few paddocks back and can still be visited on tours. If you want to see them be sure to mention them to your guide to make sure she or he takes that route.
Einstein in his new digs
Einstein is now in a great big paddock we hope he’ll love, next to the barn and across from Green Mask by day and Alphabet Soup and Gorgeous George by night. For those of you who are familiar with the farm, it’s the paddock where Danthebluegrassman and Flick lived for many years.
Into his first evening there, Einstein was still scoping it out after dinner on Tuesday.
Einstein: “Ok, it’s got a waterer, a feed tub, a run-in shed, all my favorite amenities…”
So where did Diversify settle in after his newcomer’s quarantine? Right up front, across from Ide. That is, the lakeside spot next to Sun King.
Whitney Stakes and Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Diversify
The geese who like to visit Sun King in the evenings have already made themselves at home with Diversify, as well. That’s fine with him.
Other moves that have been made, or soon will be, don’t affect the tours. I’ll post a blog about those shortly. But for today I’ll finish by celebrating one of the most successful, happiest, most wonderful moves made in recent months. This was when Bourbonize moved in with Johannesburg Smile. Frankly, we were a little worried whether Johannesburg Smile, gelded at age 10, would ever accept a paddock mate. Several horses were tried without success. He wasn’t nice to any of them. But look at him now!
Johannesburg Smile (L) and Bourbonize, who have now been bonding for two months
I think Bourbonize also feels he’s finally found the perfect buddy.
We’re having a great summer here at Old Friends in Kentucky. Some short heat waves have come through, but much of June and July has been pleasantly sunny and breezy, like today. It’s a perfect time to relax with a visit to admire some of the greatest former athletes in the world.
Like Game On Dude and Little Mike. These two deservedly popular stars, now twelve years old apiece, hold court in their big paddock near the front of the farm where they greet all who come and go. Literally. From their position on both the entry and exit routes for each tour, they often come over to spend time with their fans at the beginning of the tour, then just happen to be on the other side of their paddock as those same folks head back down at the end of the tour.
“Hi, we’re Dude and Mike, have we met before?
Silver Charm, War Emblem, Alphabet Soup & Gorgeous
George, Einstein, Afternoon Deelites and his son Popcorn Deelites (alias “Seabiscuit”),
Little Silver Charm, and all the gang are having a great time meeting,
greeting, making new friends and renewing their ties with longtime friends. We
also have some new stars who, at least at the moment, are all on the main tour
route. (I say “at the moment” because we’re doing some shifting of horses into
different paddocks. Any visit to the farm may introduce you to an unexpected horse
or reunite you with an old buddy you haven’t seen for awhile.)
New stars just settling into retirement and the role of
meeters and greeters, include:
A youngster by our standards, six year old Diversify earned
nearly $2 million in 16 starts, including the Saginaw Stakes at Belmont Park, the
Evan Shipman Stakes at Saratoga, the prestigious Jockey Club Gold Cup, the
Suburban, and the Whitney. Pretty amazing list of honors. And by the way, he also
won the Commentator Stakes (wonder who that race was named for?). Diversify is
a big darkish bay gelding with a profile that suggests strong character. His
retirement at Old Friends was enabled by his racing owners, Lauren Evans and
her father Ralph M. Evans.
Another of our wonderful new guys goes by the unassuming name of Hogy.
But a name doesn’t always say it all. Ten year old Hogy won
more than $1 million in his eight year race career. Starting his stakes wins
with the Brian Barenscheer Juvenile Stakes at Canterbury Park, he moved on to take
the Hansel at Turfway, the Hanshin at Arlington, the Troy and Presque Isle in
New York, the Colonel Power at the Fair Grounds in Louisiana, the Kentucky
Downs Sprint, Frontier Utilities Turf Sprint at Sam Houston, and Canadian Turf
Stakes at Gulfstream. Besides all that, he’s a sweet guy with a beautiful face
who we’ve fallen in love with from his first day with us.
The newest kid on the block is Soi Phet.
Pronounced “soy fet,” his name is no new one to his big fan base in southern California, or to lots of race fans all over the country, come to that. Soi Phet, eleven year old son of Tiznow’s full brother Tizbud, isn’t a big guy like his uncle. He’s a deceptively elegant, refined looking guy. “Deceptively” because he was one sturdy warrior on the track. He just about owned the Los Alamitos racecourse. He won two runnings of the Bertrando Stakes there, the Los Alamitos Mile, two consecutive E.B. Johnston Stakes, as well as the McCann’s Mojave Handicap and Crystal Water Stakes at Santa Anita, and the Harry F. Brubaker Stakes at Del Mar. If you’re wondering if he’s also a millionaire, the answer is a resounding yes. Beloved of fans, of his race owners the Benowitz family, Mathilde Powell and Paul Viskovich, and trainer Leonard Powell, Soi Phet is settling into his Kentucky retirement with beautiful grace and poise.
So if you can, run to Old Friends to meet our wonderful new stars, all of whom can currently be seen on the regular tours.
Or, if you’d rather, schedule a private tour and visit our delightfully
sweet new ladies, Saudi Poetry and Silver Charm’s daughter, Classy Charm. Their
paddock is too far to get to during the time allotted for regular tours, but
they love visitors too.
We’ve had a sizzlin’, jumpin’ five day weekend at Old Friends. This year’s Breyerfest at the Kentucky Horse Park concluded yesterday. It’s always a huge gathering of horse lovers from just about everywhere, and we’re fortunate to be a favorite side trip for many attendees. Others learn about us for the first time at our booth at Breyerfest, which this year in the 90 degree weather was staffed by Ken and Joyce (and maybe other steadfast souls of whom I’m not aware). This Breyerfest we were delighted to have many guests at the farm who said it was their first visit with us. Tour guides pitched in for double shifts, and the horses did their bit with their usual kindness and grace.
Nicanor sees visitors coming!
The horses are in laid-back summer mode. Nicanor is more into those group back scratches than ever. Touch Gold is ambling over at a lazy canter instead of a full charge, and our comedian team Popcorn Deelites and Special Ring are sauntering over at their leisure rather than waiting already in position, though once they arrive they’re doing their schtick with the usual flourishes. They know it inspires extra carrots, which go down nicely on a summer day.
Little Mike quite agrees.
So does Comma to the Top.
The geese have pretty much raised their crop of goslings, who are now old enough to party. Unlike Touch Gold (click the sidebar for last April 11’s blog), Sun King and Old Friends Stakes winner Kalamos both happily play host to family expeditions away from the pond.
Kalamos and friends
Nobiz Like Shobiz does not. But he sure knows how to look gorgeous.
Nobiz Like Shobiz
And sometimes Cherono looks so much like his grandpa Ogygian it brings a lump to my throat.
By the way, Cherono is the reigning leader of his herd, and one of the kindest herd leaders on the farm. Here you see him with his good friends (L to R) Lion Hunter, W. C. Jones and the very distinguished Rail Trip.
One paddock beyond theirs, new resident Hogy is seeing if he bonds well with Cost Affective, Rathor and Bunker’s Edge. If not, a new living arrangement will be tried. Tim and Carole are careful to make sure that paddock companions make a compatible fit. I apologize for not having a photo of Hogy. He’s a good looking guy with a strong resemblance to his close relative, Sarava. (Hogy’s taller though).
Cost Affective and Bunker’s Edge
We love it when everybody gets along (Game On Dude & Little Mike. Sarava in the background)
Summer is a good time for dust baths.
He Loves Me Not has a dustbath.
…and a shake-off.
So come on over to Old Friends this summer and hang out with us!
We had an amazing weekend at Old Friends. Saturday was Wise Dan Day!
Thanks to the generosity of Charlie and Amy LoPresti, the two-time Horse of the Year made a personal appearance at Old Friends’ party in his honor to benefit our retirees.
For many of his fans it was as much a reunion as a celebration of his greatness. Dan’s home track was Keeneland, just down the road. In his four-year race career he often thrilled us there and at Churchill Downs in Louisville.
As Saturday approached we’d sold many tickets. Our anticipation grew. At last, the day arrived. Worries about rain dispelled under a bright summer sky. At 1:30, as the 1:00 tour was visiting Game On Dude and Little Mike, up the drive rolled the LoPrestis’ trailer. And who was gazing out the window but the champion himself.
Little Mike raised his head, looking at him as if to say, “Hey, about that 2012 Male Turf Championship award…” Wise Dan and Little Mike never raced each other since they specialized in different distances, but they did meet briefly at a ceremony in the Churchill Downs paddock honoring 2012 Breeders’ Cup winners Wise Dan (Turf Mile), Little Mike (Turf), Groupie Doll (Filly & Mare Sprint), and Fort Larned (Classic). But this Saturday Wise Dan had places to go and people to meet. He rolled on up the hill.
He unloaded, got comfortably settled in, and at 2:00 the gate opened and the party began.
As you can see, at 12 years old Wise Dan is absolutely superb. Three other qualities about this horse stand out immediately and powerfully. His intelligence, his strong bond with his trainer Charlie and Amy with whom he makes his permanent home (as does his multiple graded stakes winning half-brother, Successful Dan), and his remarkable blend of high spirits and kindness.
In case you missed his race career and wonder what all the
fuss is about, get this:
Wise Dan (Wiseman’s Ferry – Lisa Danielle by Wolf Power (SAF)) was bred (2007) and raced by Morton Fink and trained by Charlie LoPresti. He was American Horse of the Year in 2012 and 2013. He also took Champion Turf Male and Older Dirt Male honors in both those years. That’s six Eclipse Championship awards in all.
He broke his maiden at Turfway in his second start, won an allowance race at Churchill Downs, then went to Keeneland for his first stakes win in the Phoenix (G3) in October 2010. (I was there and bet on him. I never saw him go off at long odds again.) At 4 he won the Firecracker Handicap (G2) at Churchill (also in the field was future OF retiree Lubash). That year Wise Dan also won the Presque Isle Downs Mile, Fayette Stakes (G2) and Clark Handicap (G2). At five he won the Ben Ali (G3), Fourstardave Handicap (G2), Woodbine Mile (G1), Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) over Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom. At 6 he won the Maker’s 46 Mile (G1), Woodford Reserve (G1), Firecracker Handicap (G2), Fourstardave Handicap (G2), Woodbine Mile (G1), Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), and at 7 the Maker’s 46 Mile (G1), Woodford Reserve (G1), Bernard Baruch Handicap (G2) and Shadwell Turf Mile (G1)—whew!
After some time with his fans outdoors, Dan and the rest of us retired to cooler quarters in the barn, where Dan continued to greet his many friends up close, posed for photos with them, and got a few carrots into the bargain.
It was great of Wise Dan and his human family to stay with us for two full hours. It made for the perfect party, never too crowded at any one time but with a steady stream of fun and interesting people for Dan to meet.
Lexington’s Channel 18 covered the event, and Wise Dan’s visit to Old Friends featured on the NBC Sports Network that night. Though other stars, even two Triple Crown winners, have come along since his racing days, Wise Dan remains a legend.
Beth photos by Laura
Watch Wise Dan set a track record winning the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Mile
Wise Dan’s thrilling 2013 Breeders’ Cup Mile
5 minute feature about Wise Dan from the Keeneland Magazine, Spring 2013
We’ve had a lot of rain this
month, but on a balmy June evening a week ago as I walked the farm with my iPad
I happened on this moment.
Seen through a curtain of late sunrays, Alphabet Soup decides
on the perfect spot for a refreshing roll in the dust. At 28 years old the 1996
Breeders’ Cup Classic winner is a bit cautious about the smoothest way to lie
down, but he sure does know how to make a jaunty exit.
If you’re a repeat reader of this blog, or a follower of Old
Friends on Twitter and Facebook, or of photographer, tour guide, and worldwide
race attendee Laura Battles on Facebook, you have a good idea of what the
Georgetown Farm is like after the last tour leaves and the farm closes for the
evening. The beautiful golden light in so many of Laura’s photos attest to how many
hours she spends with the horses after-hours, with her camera at the ready. And—as
the horses all know—her carrot bucket is also at the ready, especially for the
residents pastured off the main tour route. Here are a few glimpses of Laura at
work on a summer evening. For this session a week ago, she was joined by a
second photographer, events volunteer Kurt.
Shutters click as Skip’s World (the grey), 1996 Queen’s
Plate winner Victor Cooley (dark bay wearing a fly mask) and younger fellow
Canadian, El Brujo, come to see what’s up. If you’re not familiar with fly
masks, Skip and Victor can see perfectly well through them – they’re mesh. They
just do what the name implies, keep flies out of a horse’s eyes. Some of our
residents like wearing them in the summer, some prefer not to.
We especially wanted to get photos and a video clip of our
two new girlfriends, Silver Charm’s very sweet daughter, multiple stakes winner
Classy Charm (bay), and impressive multiple graded stakes winner Saudi Poetry (chestnut).
Laura’s photos were more successful than the video, I think, and I’ll post some
These two ladies will be moving to a different paddock
before long. Though they won’t be on the front of the farm because the
stallions behave much more nicely when there are no nearby mares to show off
for, the two will be available for visits by private tours. When this clip was
taken they were coexisting peacefully, as you see here. Making friends takes
more time, but as of a few days ago these two have started to really make friends.
Here’s a clip for all those folks who may think the horses
off the main tour route don’t get lots of lovin’, too. Laura and Kudos.
And here’s 2002 Belmont Stakes winner, Sarava. I know he’s
quite familiar, very much on the beaten path of the tours, and he’s also not
doing anything in particular in this video, but he’s so handsome by sunset that
I just had to include him.
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 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.
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
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
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 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
photos by Laura
Rick Capone has shared with the blog these four more great photos of Santona. Thank you, Rick!
Santona, by Rick Capone
Muddy girl. Santona, by Rick Capone
Santona by Rick Capone
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.