February 26, 2021

Stormy Liberal munches some hay

Last week’s severe weather swept over Kentucky, leaving several inches of snow, thick ice, and serious cold. As Laura’s photos show, some horses like to play in the snow as much as kids. A horse’s thermoregulatory system, the internal heaters their bodies have, keeps them comfortable in cold weather. It’s pretty miraculous how hardy horses are.

Popcorn Deelites and Special Ring

Little Mike

You and I

Saratoga Episode (L) and Slim Shadey

Thermoregulation seems like a super-power. I wish we humans had it! But it does burn a lot of energy, so when the weather turned mild a few days ago, and the snow began thawing, and the footing became easier in the paddocks, the horses all relaxed. The older ones rested contentedly and the younger ones played more happily than ever.

The snow was well on its way to disappearing when I caught the clips of them in the video below, Old Friends Blog Visit 32, The Snow’s Gone. It features Silver Charm, Sun King, Touch Gold, Little Mike, Game On Dude, Afternoon Deelites, Arson Squad, Fighting City Hall, Soi Phet, Persie, Hogy, Eye of the Tiger, Special Ring, Popcorn Deelites, Patch, Stormy Liberal, Silver Max, You and I, Ide, and Pollard’s Vision.

And it makes special visits to our two new stars, Bellamy Road and Sharp Samurai.

Bellamy Road during the snow, taken by Laura

Bellamy Road, a 19 year old stallion, is a Florida-bred by Concerto out of Hurry Home Hillary by Deputed Testamony. Owned by Kinsman Stable and trained by Nick Zito, he earned $811,400 on the track. In 2005 he won the most impressive running of the Wood Memorial (G1) of all time. Taking charge of the race at the start, he controlled the pace with a mighty stride throughout and powered away to a 15 length lead under a hand ride from Javier Castellano. The record of 1 1/8 mile in 1:47.16 he set on the Aqueduct track that day still stands.

Watch Bellamy Road win the 2005 Wood Memorial

Unsurprisingly, he went off as the favorite in the 2005 Kentucky Derby. Though Giacomo won that race, Bellamy Road ran a valiant second in the 2005 Travers (G1), setting the pace and nearly holding on to win. At stud, his foals included muliple Grade 1 winner, now Old Friends retiree, Diversify and Old Friends retiree Brilliant Decision.


Sharp Samurai, taken a few days later by Beth (look how much less snow!)

Sharp Samurai arrived at Old Friends a few weeks ago, having retired from the track. He’s a 7 year old gelding by First Samurai out of Secret Wish, a daughter of Street Cry. Through his dam, Sharp Samurai is a great-grandson of Awesome Again. Turf was his surface, and his graded stakes wins at Del Mar and Santa Anita netted his owning partnership more than $1 million. Co-owner Mark Glatt trained him, and Gary Stevens rode him to his most notable victories. Sharp Samurai could race in any style. He won on the lead, and he won running from far back. He didn’t mind, he just liked to win.

Watch Sharp Samurai’s victory in the 2017 Del Mar Derby

Old Friends is proud that these two exceptional retired athletes now call our Georgetown farm home.

Old Friends Blog Visit 32 The Snow’s Gone!


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February 11, 2021

Old Friends at Ashton Grove (last September when the weather was nice)

Last Tuesday, February 9, 2021, Old Friends welcomed a new resident to our Ashton Grove location. Ashton Grove Senior Community in Georgetown, Kentucky is home to sixteen of Old Friends’ Thoroughbred retirees. Three herds occupy three pastures. The first herd, who have long lived together at the main farm, may be familiar to many main farm visitors as “the red guys” because four out of the five of them are chestnuts. Now known as Ashton Grove’s “Founding Five,” they are Secret Getaway, Porfido (the only bay in the bunch), Ireland’s Eye, Massone, and one of the farm’s three stars, multiple graded stakes winner Daytona.

A smaller herd of three live in the middle pasture. All came straight to Ashton Grove on retirement but one is well known to racing fans: Magic Weisner who finished second to War Emblem in the 2002 Preakness Stakes. Magic Weisner is accompanied by his longtime friend, Bo’s a Ten, who is a daughter of our much-loved and much-missed Patton (1991-2014). She resembles her dad. The third member of that herd is another mare, Millie’s Thunder, a daughter of 1995 Derby winner Thunder Gulch and granddaughter of the great Gulch (one of Old Friends’ most revered retirees from 2009 until his passing in 2016). Millie’s Thunder raced only once. The thirteen year old mare has lived a life of ups and downs that eventually led to a slaughter auction. Thanks to the loving and practical help of Shirley Ford, Millie’s Thunder’s life turned around last fall. Under the care of John Bradley, manager of Old Friends at Ashton Grove, Millie has regained her health and high spirits. She’s the sweetest horse on the farm and has become the darling of the residents and staff of the Ashton Grove Senior Community.

And then there’s the third herd. They’re a motley crew of eight who came from four different herds on the main farm. At first four twosomes, they’ve now formed a herd with a clear pecking order and social life. They are Brilliant Decision (no star, but the herd boss), Wake Forest (he’s the star, having won the 2016 Man o’ War Stakes (G1)), Litigate, Talk Logistics, Padua’s Pride, Falcon Scott, Palmer’s Approach, and Riversrunrylee.

Those are the sixteen Thoroughbreds. But, as I mentioned, a new resident has now moved in at Ashton Grove.

Christy Cassidy, who donated Winston to OF, bought him to live at Ashton Grove last Tuesday.

Miniature horse Winston had a famous namesake. Er, well, not Sir Winston Churchill. The pinto mini was named by his former owner, Christy Cassidy, for the longtime miniature resident of the Kentucky Derby Museum, who retired to Old Friends and passed in 2018. This Winston, unofficially Winston II, is a 13 year old gelding with the perfect resume for Ashton Grove since he’s an experienced senior community and nursing home visitor.

His love for people—not to mention his cuteness—may give Millie’s Thunder a run for her money as Ashton Grove’s darling with the community’s residents and staff, and his experience and indoors manners should also make him a favorite visitor in Ashton Grove’s memory unit. This little guy is really something special.

But don’t take my word for it. See for yourself. Here are Ashton Grove’s Thoroughbred residents and the arrival of new resident Winston.


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December 25, 2020

From as many of the horses on the main farm as I could get into it, here’s a video greeting card wishing you a happy holiday season.

Here are a few of those who participated.



new resident Tom’s Ready

Starspangled Heat

And two horses who didn’t come over to share season’s greetings, but look especially beautiful in these recent photos of Laura’s.

Miss Hooligan


All of us at Old Friends wish you a holiday season filled with joy, peace and hope.

photos by Laura


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December 18, 2020

Awesome Again (March 29, 1994 – December 15, 2020)

A few days ago our delighted anticipation of many good times with Awesome Again changed abruptly to inconsolable sadness when the great athlete and sire suddenly died. The reason was not apparent and necropsy results are pending. Though he spent such a sadly short time with at Old Friends, for many years Awesome Again was such a towering presence in the Kentucky Bluegrass that the many people who saw him at Adena Springs knew, respected, and loved him.

Awesome Again at age 16, photographed by Kate Dunn at Adena Stallions in 2007.

His resume is beyond impressive. By Deputy Minister out of Primal Force (by Blushing Groom) who also foaled Macho Uno, Awesome Again was bred and raced by Stronach Stables, trained by David Hofmans, then Patrick Byrne, and ridden to his greatest victories by Mike Smith in 1997 and Pat Day in 1998. His most prestigious wins include the 1998 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), 1998 Whitney H (G1), 1998 Stephen Foster H (G2), 1998 Saratoga Breeders’ Cup H (G2), 1998 Hawthorne Gold Cup (G3), 1997 Jim Dandy S (G2), and 1997 Queen’s Plate. He vanquished such greats as Silver Charm, Touch Gold (also by Deputy Minister), and Skip Away. He was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2001.

After his four year old campaign, he entered stud at Adena Springs and achieved even more lasting status as a sire of champions whose influence will be seen in pedigrees for generations to come. His best progeny include Horse of the Year and influential sire Ghostzapper, Game On Dude, Breeders’ Cup winners Round Pond, Ginger Punch and Wilko, Preakness winner Oxbow, Belmont winner Sir Winston, and top flight graded stakes winners Paynter, Awesome Gem, Spun Sugar, Toccet, Bravazo, and other formidable achievers.

Awesome Again at Adena Springs in the latter part of his stud career. Photo by Laura Battles.

His arrival at Old Friends, October 30, 2020

Losing such a great horse is hard. But Awesome Again was more than that. He was such a personality, so calm, so in command, so professional and smart and gracious, that we’d already come to love him deeply. I know many of you reading this also loved him and hoped to visit him soon. Whether you knew him much longer and better than we did, or through visits to Adena Springs, or through his exceptional sons and daughters, his effect on all who came in contact with him was unforgettable.

This photo and video, “Remembering Awesome Again,” doesn’t begin to do him justice. With tours suspended for the winter and our staff and volunteers taking care to observe pandemic precautions, not so many people were fortunate enough to photograph him at Old Friends, and those photos that are available are mostly of his head looking out of his stall window, or at dusk, or in the fly mask he wore for the first few days to protect his eyes from irritation. I’ve done my best to pay him tribute, but his dignity, graciousness and charisma deserve more. We’re heartbroken. We were deeply honored to have been his home for awhile.



Photos of Awesome Again
at Old Friends by Laura Battles



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December 13, 2020

It’s hard not to be able to welcome visitors to the farm when we’re bursting with excitement over our several wonderful new residents! How we wish we could proudly show them off and give their fans and other horse lovers the opportunity to spend some quality, in-person time with them! Until then, here’s an Old Friends Blog Visit video with our three biggest new celebrities.

1998 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner and leading sire for decades, Awesome Again

2002 and 2003 Santa Anita Handicap winner, Milwaukee Brew

Multiple graded stakes winner, Silver Max
(after a roll in the mud)

Also featured in the video are Birdstone, who’s settled nicely into his new life, and Carole Oates, to whose skilled and vigilant care the horses at the main farm have thrived. Carole, her husband and her retired sport horse have moved to warmer weather and new adventures. We—humans and horses—will miss her.

You’ll find the video below, but first I want to share a few glimpses of other residents shared by Laura. They’re not in the video but some are old favorites and one is a new girl on the farm.

Touch Gold makes his signature entrance
Riva Way, son of Tinners Way. Can you believe Riva is about to turn 22?
Special Ring and Popcorn Deelites share an affectionate moment
(actually Ringy and Pops do appear in the video)
Pollard’s Vision



Hi Dubai

Our new mare, Hi Dubai, was foaled and did most of her racing in Great Britain. She’s by Rahy out of Jood, a daughter of Nijinsky II. She raced for Godolphin, trained by Saeed bin Suroor, and won the 2003 R. L. Davison Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket. The following fall she came to North America where she raced third in a stakes at Woodbine with Frankie Dettori up. Afterward she was a broodmare in both Great Britain and America until her retirement to Old Friends by LNJ Foxwoods, whose support has meant much to Old Friends through these difficult times. We’re also grateful to LNJ Foxwoods for donating Mystery Trip and Gold Round to us—two distinguished and very sweet girls we’ve quickly fallen in love with. Hi Dubai is 20 years old and a full sister to Fantastic Light. She’ll appear in a video soon.

Now for this week’s Old Friends Blog Visit.

photos by Laura


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November 28, 2020

He could provide themes for many films. Inevitably, he’d star in an Old Friends Blog Visit. So why did Little Silver Charm wait so long? Maybe it was generosity, letting the larger and less cute horses have their day in the limelight. Or maybe, thinking back, Little Silver Charm actually did star in one of the earliest Old Friends Blog Videos, in the genre’s more modest days. Be that as it may, yesterday the photogenic mini graciously stepped forward to share a few grooming tips, assisted by a supporting cast of Jane and Michael.

The Premiere Miniature Horse at Old Friends (see video) has, of course, starred in Old Friends Virtual Tours, not to mention countless live tours, sports videos, and two books. Now, to please his many friends and fans whose presence and admiration he misses, he has graciously obliged with this offering.

So here it is. Old Friends Blog Visit 28, Little Silver Charm’s Grooming Tips.

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November 16, 2020

Caught in the act!

It’s great to have so many people on the farm who are able with a camera. It means that a good deal of what happens gets recorded. Some of it may not seem so important at the time, just the everyday doings of the same old residents and staff. In later years snapshots of daily life often prove the most valuable of records, once times and faces (horse and human) have changed, the evocations of some of our best memories.

Another kind of photo easy to overlook at the time are the captures of silly moments. Sometimes accidentally, sometimes very much on purpose, Laura or Rick or Tim or a visitor to the farm, might end up in possession of an especially cute, or characteristic, or fun, or downright embarassing, moment. A moment that’s utterly useless as a calendar photo, or a publicity portrait, or a gift shop postcard, yet just wonderful for the smiles these moments bring to all of us who love the horses.

Here are a few such moments with horses (and people) caught in the act by Laura during the fall of 2020.

A truly embarassing moment for Patch and Stormy Liberal. The multiple graded stakes winners get beaten in a race by Little Silver Charm and Michael (while Ide looks on).

And in case you’ve doubted the tour guides’ reports that Little Silver Charm is indeed a house horse, here’s the proof, caught in living color, as he not only goes indoors but brings Michael in with him.

Amazombie and Rapid Redux, caught in the act of being gorgeous.

Tuneintobow and Saratoga Episode caught telling secrets.

While Windy Land and He Loves Me Not share a bromance moment.

And Green Mask acts like … well … like Green Mask.

And Sarava acts like Green Mask.


Sun King!



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November 7, 2020

Breeders’ Cup 2020 has been an exciting two days. Though the stands couldn’t be open to the public due to the pandemic, this year’s two days showed racing at its best and all the horses had safe runs. This year’s Breeders’ Cup featured four victories by hugely talented horses who have Old Friends retirees, past and present, among their ancestors. They are:

Vequist, winner of the Juvenile Fillies. This two year old girl, who looks to have a bright future, is a great-great-granddaughter of Gulch.

Gulch (1984-2016). Photo by Laura Battles.

In the Dirt Mile a course record was set by the handsome gray, Knicks Go, whose sire Paynter is by Awesome Again.

Awesome Again on his recent arrival at Old Friends.

Now that Awesome Again has made his home with us, we will no doubt be constantly celebrating the achievements of his descendants. Awesome Again, a Breeders’ Cup Classic winner himself, has been one of the foremost sires of his era (as Game On Dude and Awesome Gem would no doubt agree if they could read this blog). Old Friends is honored to give a home in retirement to this superstar.

This year’s most prestigious Breeders’ Cup race for fillies and mares, the Distaff, was won for the second time by Monomoy Girl, who also won in 2018. The superlative Monomoy Girl gets some of her talent from her second damsire (great-grandpa), the unforgettable Williamstown.

Williamstown (1990-2015). Courtesy of Equisport Photos.

Williamstown was, of course, a son of Seattle Slew.

The Distaff, the Classic, several of this year’s Breeders’ Cup races, were exciting competition among especially impressive fields, but maybe the biggest thrill of all was Whitmore‘s win in the Sprint. Seven-year-old Whitmore, a fan favorite co-owned and trained by Old Friends supporter Ron Moquett, is a great-great-great-grandson of the one and only Ogygian.

Ogygian (1983-2015). Photo by Laura Battles.

And hey, did you catch the great closeup of Joel Rosario wearing his Old Friends face mask in the Classic post parade? Woo-hoo! Thank you Joel, and all of you amazing supporters whose generosity keeps us going during these challenging times!



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October 31, 2020

Einstein (2002-2020)

He was one of the best racehorses of his era. He won G1 and G2 stakes on all 3 surfaces, including the 2009 Santa Anita Handicap and two runnings of the Woodford Reserve. After stud duty at Adena Springs in Kentucky and Daehling Ranch in California, his retirement to Old Friends was enabled by Frank Stronach. On arrival at Old Friends in March 2019 had been diagnoised with a tumor. He received surgery which it was hoped would be entirely successful.

It seemed to be. His health returned and Einstein enjoyed a happy year and a half at Old Friends, but in fall 2020 fell ill again with what proved to be a widespread resurgence of cancer. He was euthanized on the morning of Wednesday, October 28, 2020.

On the track he was courageous, determined and gritty. In retirement he was spirited, demanding, affectionate and kind. We, his friends and fans, are grieving. We will always miss him.

photos by Laura


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October 16, 2020

Today’s post and video are for Secretariat fans and pedigree geeks. Old Friends Blog Visit 20 began a three part series recognizing Secretariat’s ongoing influence on racing by celebrating the retirees at Old Friends who descend from him. They include some of our most successful athletes. Part 1 covered the horses in the paddocks and pastures on the south part of Old Friends’ main location in Georgetown. Old Friends Blog Visit 27, Secretariat Descendants part 2, visits with the horses on the main tour route who have the great Triple Crown winner among their ancestors.

Rapid Redux

Stormy Liberal and Patch

Some are stars of the sport, some worked hard and honestly, achieved according to their abilities and now enjoy a retirement just as amply earned. One is a movie star. Another never raced but gave birth to horses who did.

Mystery Trip

The horses you’ll visit this time are Afternoon Deelites, River Squall, Popcorn Deelites (who played Seabiscuit in the 2003 film), two time Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner Stormy Liberal, Patch, Nobiz Like Shobiz, Smooth Air, Sun King, Green Mask, Breeders’ Cup Marathon winner Eldaafer, and Mystery Trip.

If you’re wondering where are Saudi Poetry, Johannesburg Smile and other of your favorites who haven’t yet had Secretariat-related spotlight, his descendants who live on the back of the farm will star in part 3 in a few weeks.

Popcorn Deelites

Sun King


Green Mask

To learn some horse-genealogy about these horses who range in generation from a grandchild to some great-great-great-grandchildren of Secretariat, or just to enjoy the beauty of the horses on a splendidly clear, colorful autumn evening, have a watch.

photos by Laura


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