June 8, 2016

2016 06 08 Squally maneDelay of Game 1993-2016

In Delay of Game’s passing we’ve lost one of our most valued friends and role models.

As some of the best do, he grew to wisdom after a rambunctious youth. Sarah Arnold, who’s known him since he was two, once told me that when she was his exercise rider her nickname for him was Stinky Dee. Sarah had the right to call him that. No one knew him longer or better, or loved him more than Sarah. By the time he came to Old Friends at seventeen he’d matured into a quietly dignified horse, patient about most things, and infinitely kind.

Delay of Game wasn’t one of those horses whose presence takes up a lot of extra space, but you felt his class at once. He wasn’t flashy, but his proportions had a rightness, his magnificent chest looked like it housed a powerful heart, and the pale celadon green flecks in his eyes were as beautiful as their intelligent, friendly expression.

Oh, he had plenty of spirit. His accumulating old age issues notwithstanding, he let us know that when it was time to do feet. But what I’ll remember best was the pleasure he took and returned. Being groomed on a summer evening. Trading nuzzles with his human friends. In the company of his paddock mate, Judge’s Case, who felt secure in his leadership. Delay of Game may not have understood all the words spoken to him, but he was remarkably willing to listen, to be open to his friends in happy times and sad ones. To the end, his strength was quiet, supportive and deep. He was a horse of genuine class in every sense. If we humans can achieve half his wisdom and grace in old age, we’ll be doing admirably. We’ll never forget him.


Delay of Game, Feb. 2016

Delay of Game, Feb. 2016

2016 06 08 Squally 2016Delay of Game in 2016


photos by his good friend Laura


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June 3, 2016

On Memorial Day we gathered to honor the five residents of Old Friends in Georgetown who passed during the last year. They were Mixed Pleasure, Francis (Do One Dance), Flick, Gulch, and Wallenda.

2016 06 03 Mixed Pleasure

Mixed Pleasure (1985-2015)

2016 06 03 Francis 2015 2

Do One Dance, a.k.a. Francis (1984-2015)

2016 06 03 Flick 2

Flick (1992-2016)

2016 06 03 Gulch 4

Gulch (1984-2016)

Wallenda 090826-01

Wallenda (1990-2016)

Supporters, staff and volunteers listened to Old Friends’ official eulogist Bill Mooney’s tribute to each horse. Bill said so much that was so meaningful, in so few and so eloquent words that each horse seemed to stand there for a moment, clear, himself, unforgetable.

2016 06 03 Bill M 2

Bill reads the eulogy


Those who were especially close to a particular horse or who wanted to share some powerful experience inspired by Mixed Pleasure, Francis, Flick, Gulch or Wallenda, generously shared how that horse came into their lives and made a difference in them.

2016 06 03 John

John talks about his friend and teacher, Mixed Pleasure.

2016 06 03 Val

Val tells the story of Francis.


We very much missed Bucky Sallee’s Call to the Post, but the tradition of the Last Call to the Post continued with Steve Siegel doing the honors. Those who remember, or have heard about, some of the residents’ interested responses to previous memorial Calls looked around and caught some heads flung up, some ears pricked. War Emblem was too far away for us to see if he responded, but Touch Gold seemed to love hearing “his song.”

2016 06 03 Touch Gold

Touch Gold charges over when he hears the call. “Where’s the race?”

Silver Charm just looked over and continued munching the lovely early summer grass. And with every right. Who’s been there and done that more convincingly than he has?

2016 06 03 Silver Charm

As always, Silver Charm exhibits the ultimate cool.


On the eve of the groundbreaking for the new barn on the site of the “small barn,” our former hospital and quarantine barn that burned down last winter, the sign was unveiled that will adorn the new barn, dedicating it to the memory of pioneering Thoroughbred aftercare advocate John Hettinger. Old Friends is grateful to Fasig Tipton and the many other generous donors who have enabled us to replace the all-important hospital and quarantine barn. Follow its progress on our Facebook page and on this blog.

2016 06 03 John Hettinger Memorial Barn

This beautiful sign will be on the John Hettinger Memorial Barn, now under construction.


People take for granted that humans can deeply affect each others’ lives, perceptions, and wisdom. Sometimes it isn’t recognized that an animal can contribute just as profoundly to our ability to live, feel, and gain wisdom. All of our supporters who have made Old Friends possible and make it continue to work possess a clear understanding of the powerful effect these horses have on us, both the track and as they continue to enrich our lives in their retirements. As handicapper, fan and longtime OF supporter Kate Dunn said after Monday’s gathering, “I guess Michael was thinking about helping horses when he started but I wonder if he knew how much the horses would help people.”


2016 06 03 Mixie and John 2015

Mixed Pleasure

2016 06 03 Francis 1

Francis (Do One Dance)

2016 06 03 Flick 1


2016 06 03 Gulch Nov 2015


Wallenda 091012-02


the good photos – Laura
the snapshots – Beth


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April 25, 2016

I’m pleased to introduce a guest blogger with a special announcement.



A Charmed Life cover - web

My first book (as an author, that is), A Charmed Life, will be in the Old Friends in Georgetown gift shop within days. If you can’t wait that long – which is understandable – you can buy it now on Amazon.com. The link is at the end of this post.

Little Silver Charm

A Charmed Life

by Little Silver Charm


I am an extremely modest little horse and yet I’m not surprised when visitors to Old Friends make a point of seeking me out before they ask to meet (Big) Silver Charm, War Emblem, Game On Dude, Sarava, Touch Gold or any of our many retired Thoroughbred champions. I am pretty cute after all. But I’m more than just a pretty face. As I leafed through the pages of A Charmed Life, a brilliant collection of photographs of me, many taken by world-class equine photographers, I gained some insight into the secret of my phenomenal appeal. It’s not just that I’m adorable, or that I’m incredibly photogenic. I think people respond to my keen intelligence and my independent spirit, qualities that emerge in so many of these photographs and the accompanying remarks from my internationally acclaimed Facebook page. These same qualities moved Michael Blowen, our founder and president, to name me Old Friends’ official spokeshorse. I hope you enjoy the photos and my comments and that you will visit me at the farm and on my Facebook page, Little Silver Charm at Old Friends.

2016-04-25 MB shows ACL to LSC

With lots of photographs by Barbara Livingston, Equisport Photos, Connie Bush, Rick Capone,  and Laura Battles, to name just a few!

Get A CHARMED LIFE at Amazon

With “Look Inside”!


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March 11, 2016

Arson leads IC

Arson Squad, front, leads the way for I’m Charismatic.

Continuing the theme of some of the best friends at Old Friends, another pair known to many of our supporters and visitors are Arson Squad and I’m Charismatic, whose bond has endured and strengthened through some life-changing developments. The two bay geldings could hardly have been more different on the track, Arson Squad a well-known millionaire multiple graded stakes winner, I’m Charismatic, though a son of Derby and Preakness winner Charismatic, a modest claimer who by the end of his career was struggling in the bottom-most ranks with an ankle issue that should have sidelined him long before a fan enabled his retirement. Arson Squad was as lucky as he was talented: his owner was Samantha Siegel of Jay Em Ess Stable. He was going strong when a workout-related accident cut his career short. Thanks to Samantha, Arson received the treatment for a comfortable retirement and normal pasture life, and a place at Old Friends.

Both geldings having survived serious issues in the right front ankle, they were perfectly matched paddock mates. As younger horses do, they’d enjoy playing but neither would push the other beyond what he should do. And so it proved. They hit it off so well that when Arson Squad made a guest appearance one Saturday morning in the Keeneland paddock, I’m Charismatic trotted around and called for him until he returned that afternoon.

Tougher times were in store for I’m Charismatic, though. He succumbed to an incurable infection that gradually blinded him. Though repeatedly tested and treated by our expert resident vets, the late Dr. Doug Byars, and Dr. Bryan Waldridge, both among the leading equine vets worldwide, I’m Charismatic’s sight could not be saved. He’s otherwise a healthy, active horse. He’s also smart and a great adapter to everything life has brought to him. I’m Charismatic already knew his paddock and paddock mate well. If we can help it we’ll never change his environment  or his companion.

Arson and IC

Left: Arson Squad, right: I’m Charismatic.

Since then, Arson Squad has retrained himself for a new career. In many ways he has taken on the role of his buddy’s Seeing Eye horse. I’m Charismatic has learned new things, too. He was already an expert meeter and greeter on tours and still is. Formerly not much of a cuddler, he’s now learned to enjoy being rubbed and scratched, a new way to communicate with the people he can no longer see. More than that, when he was sighted the leader in that paddock was I’m Charismatic. In herds, even herds of two, horses always have a pecking order. Nowadays, the leader in that paddock is…you guessed it…I’m Charismatic. He may not walk in front, but horse leaders usually don’t anyway. He still tells Arson what to do. Arson, being the peaceful soul that he is, gracefully plays his supporting role and remains a patient and kind friend to his best buddy.

I'm Charismatic has a rest on the warm hay pile. Arson rarely goes far away.

I’m Charismatic has a rest on the warm hay pile. Arson rarely goes far away.


Photos by Laura

I was going to post about several other pairs, but this has turned into a long account, so coming soon will be Victor Cooley & El Brujo, Rapid Redux & Amazombie, our newest twosome Futural and Yankee Fourtune, plus an interesting triangle with Maybesomaybenot living up to his name.


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March 10, 2016

I should have included…


Swan’s Way, too, is enjoying the warmer weather and the larger numbers of visitors who are taking advantage of the milder temperatures to admire his hard-knocking past and relaxed retirement. Swanny has been with us “since Hurstland.” That is, since Old Friends was located at Alfred Nuckols, Jr.’s’ beautiful Hurstland Farm in Midway. Old Friends’ main location moved to Georgetown in June 2006.


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March 3, 2016

After some beautiful early spring days – blop! – snow fell today. The ground is white and winter seems forever. To cheer away the wintery glums, I’m going to interrupt the theme of buddies to share some recent photos, most of them taken within the last few days, of some horses many have come to know and love over the years. How are Riva Way, Kudos, and other long-time favorites of many, doing?

War Emblem

War Emblem enjoys last Sunday’s warm weather

First, a few photos of a horse who’s new to Old Friends but who’s being reunited with many admirers since he came to live with us a few months ago, 2002 Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem. He’s 17 now, a ruggedly handsome, nearly black horse with an individualist attitude.

War Emblem and Michael

War Emblem and Michael – time for carrots!

War Emblem has settled into his home and is getting to know us. He likes to be on top of everything that happens and keeps an eagle eye out on everything in his world. We’re under no illusions. In War Emblem’s world we exist to serve War Emblem. Well, did we win the Derby?

Tinners Way

Julie grooms Tinners Way

Ahh, yes…how’s this for service? Tinner’s Way gets a nice grooming from volunteer Julie Witt. Besides her affiliation with Old Friends, Julie is part of the University of Kentucky’s Horse Racing Club, a student group who will be visiting Old Friends in April.

Affirmed Success

Affirmed Success

Over the years many visitors have gotten to know one of Affirmed’s best sons, $2 million plus winner and red hot miler from 1997 through 2003, Affirmed Success. He’s now 22 years old. He, Kudos and Northern Stone share the paddock across the way from Tinner’s.



As for Kudos, the G1 winner, donated by Jerry and Ann Moss in our early days, one of Old Friends’ “founding stars,” he’s doing great. He’s a social horse who finds good companionship whoever he’s with. He and Affirmed Success are great friends, and Northern Stone likes living with them, a smaller, less competitive circle where he gets to be a star, too.

Riva Way

Riva Way

Speaking of really long time residents, here’s a photo Laura took a few days ago of Riva Way. As some may remember, Riva has lived with us far longer than his dad, Tinners Way. His grandpas are two Meadow Farm horses a few people might have heard of, Secretariat and Riva Ridge. Riva Way is now 18 years old.

Falcon Scott

Falcon Scott

And speaking of the kin of Derby winners, some may remember when Falcon Scott, half brother to Giacomo, lived in the paddock that’s now Sarava’s. As you can see from the background, Falcon currently lives in one of our most spacious pastures among a thriving herd of youngish geldings like himself. As can be seen, he’s as kind, curious and attention-loving as ever. He seems to enjoy life with his gang of good buddies. Being herd animals, many horses feel the most secure that way.

Fabulous Strike and Commentator

Fabulous Strike and Commentator

…Like these two. Once Fabulous Strike (L) and Commentator (R) held off all challengers to occupy the lonely glory of the winner’s circle. These two have been there, enjoyed that, and now appreciate just hanging out with each other and English-bred Marshall Rooster.

Hidden Lake plays in her waterer

Hidden Lake plays in her waterer

On the theme of enjoyment, Older Female Eclipse Award champion Hidden Lake was quite busy Saturday.

Hidden Lake plays waterer 2

While Ogygian’s grandson Cherono played on dry land.

Cherono plays

Cherono plays


Finally, I’d like to introduce a new friend, Old Friends’ most recent arrival and youngest resident, Saint Aloysius.

Saint Aloysius

Saint Aloysius

When three-year-old Saint Aloysius’ attempt at a career on the track didn’t work out due to a bowed tendon, his racing owner, New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson, generously enabled his retirement to Old Friends. Welcome, you cute guy!


photos by Laura


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February 29, 2016

“OLD FRIENDS” expresses the way many fans feel about the magnificent former contenders retired at our farms, whether or not the horse is very old. But there’s another aspect to the “FRIENDS” part, too, and it’s wonderful. It’s the bonds the horses form among themselves. We have several twosomes, and a few threesomes, of special pals at the Georgetown farm that I’d like to devote a few posts to celebrating.

Popcorn Deelites and Special Ring are the longest running and best known pair of buddies at Old Friends.


For all too brief a time, Seabiscuit actor Popcorn enjoyed the friendship of Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Fraise, one of the most impressive athletes, and one of the most lovable horses, ever to live at OF. After Fraise passed in 2005, Popcorn adjusted to a paddock mate who was  more…shall we say, in-your-face? And so, the famous rivalry began, Pops and Special Ring each striving to outdo the other for attention and treats.


For several years, multiple Grade I winner though he is, Ringy had to take a back seat to the movie star with most visitors, but in the summer of the Equestrian Games, 2010, with tours ramped up to at least four a day, Ring made a breakthrough. It might not have been as amazing a feat as the competitors were doing over at the Horse Park, but Ring did very well out of it.

Ring and Pops apr 28 2013

Ring shows his i.d. Pops won’t show his (if he did, we’d know he’s not really Seabiscuit).

He invented his lip flip schtick! Who would have thought a mere lift of the lip, just a flash of an identification tattoo, would upstage a movie star, train an endless stream of admirers to offer a carrot on cue, and make a chubby retired gelding one of the most photographed horses in the state of Kentucky?

Popcorn Deelites and Special Ring have been best buds for over a decade. They’re inseparable. Ring may steal his buddy’s treats occasionally, but he is absolutely protective of Popcorn, and Pops seems to love that security.


EG and U 4

A less well known pair of pals, because they live at the very back of the farm where most tours don’t go (it’s a long hike), are Easy Grades and Ukiah. Easy Grades, now 17 years old, competed in the 2002 Kentucky Derby – War Emblem’s Derby. He raced on through the years, still working hard long after the limelight was just a memory, while advancing age and athletic aches gradually caught up with him. In November 2008 he finished fourth in a $5000 claiming race at Churchill Downs, where he had once paraded to “My Old Kentucky Home.” It didn’t seem right. When trainer David Vance was contacted by Old Friends, he graciously helped facilitate Easy’s retirement to the good life he had amply earned.

EG and U

Easy Grades joined a herd on the Georgetown farm and got along with all its members, but he never had a best buddy till he met Ukiah. A few years younger, Ukiah was lucky to start out with the best of connections, owners Jerry & Ann Moss, trainer John Shirreffs and jockey Mike Smith, but he changed hands over the years, running on after his competitive days were over. When they learned of his situation, the Mosses financed Ukiah’s retirement to Old Friends. That Ukiah had never run in the Derby didn’t matter a bit to Easy. What began as love at first sight has endured through changes in the population of their herd and in location. Wherever they are, Easy and Ukiah are happy being there together.

EG and U 3

EG and U2

This post ends with a less obvious kind of friendship, but one that can be a deep bond. Stallions are too territorial to share a paddock. Each needs to rule his own bit of turf. They don’t rest their heads on one another’s backs or indulge in mutual scratches, but stallions do hang out together, race each other up and down their fences, and engage in what look almost like silent gossip sessions, seeming for all the world like codgers trading tales on a courthouse bench. The bond Awad and Kiri’s Clown shared was especially wonderful. They were rivals who loved dissing each other like the French razzing the English from the battlements in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. But they were inseparable, each on his own side of the fence but rarely far from each other. If one went to the barn the other would call or run his fence line until his chum returned.

Kiri and Awad 07-12-12


Geri and AS

The growing friendship between Geri and newcomer Alphabet Soup is less dramatic. They peacefully enjoy each other’s company. And after all, they have lots in common. Both raced in the mid-90’s, won Grade I victories, they even competed at the same meets at times, though not against each other. Though Geri didn’t quite equal Alphabet Soup’s win in the 1996 Breeder’s Cup Classic, he did finish second in the 1997 Breeders’ Cup Mile. Who knows, maybe they do have a lot to talk over. Maybe they’re discussing who’s likely to win this year’s Kentucky Derby. Wouldn’t you like to listen in? I would.

all photos by Laura except Kiri and Awad in 2012 by Beth


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February 3, 2016

What happens on a windy day at Old Friends?

Tails blow!

W. C. Jones, Rail Trip, Photon. Bonapaw behind them.

W. C. Jones, Rail Trip, Photon. Bonapaw behind.

Mane blows!

Alphabet Soup.

Alphabet Soup.

Hay blows!

Touch Gold.

Touch Gold.

The wind will soon blow spring into the Blue Grass. Special Ring practices for the growing number of admirers he hopes to be seeing again.

20160203 Ringy practices

You and I doesn’t have to practice being beautiful. He always is.

20160203 You and I

Silver Charm runs for the sheer joy of it.

Silver Charm plays.

Silver Charm plays.

And Sarava? Sarava is the wind!

20160203 s120160203 s 220160203 s 320160203 s 4

("Huh?" sau Amazombie and Rapid Redux.)

(“Huh?” says Amazombie to Rapid Redux.)

20160203 s 6

Photos by Laura


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January 24, 2016

Rail Trip, W. C. Jones and buddies. Hay, guys!

Rail Trip, W. C. Jones and buddies. Hay, guys!

Probably you know about the barn fire yesterday morning at Old Friends in Georgetown. It was the small barn, our hospital and quarantine barn, that burned. Thanks to our brave, wonderful, observant, level headed heroes, farm staff James and Tammy, the two horses who were in that barn, Alphabet Soup and Archie’s Echo, were safely evaculated. Everyone is fine, horses and humans. The big barn and other buildings are undamaged.

We thank the Georgetown Fire Department and the fire fighter who sustained a knee injury due to the icy footing, and we thank all the generous people who are contacting us to help. Michael says we’ll get the insurance report in a few days. Then we’ll know how much money we need to raise to replace this facility that’s so necessary to our horse care. Please watch our tweets, web site and Facebook page for fund raising updates.

Rather than post more photos of the patch of rubble–Barbara Livingston put some good ones on Facebook–I went for a walk around the farm this afternoon and caught snapshots of what the horses are doing today. They’re not Laura’s skilled photography, and the horses are being pretty boring in them. That’s because they spent a relaxed day soaking up the sun, munching hay and wishing more people would come visit–carrots! They said to remind you that winter tours are at 11 am daily with reservations.

So here are some snaps of the horses safe, sound and lazy on this winter Sunday.

Yankee Fourtune--white on white.

Yankee Fourtune–white on white.

War Emblem chows down

War Emblem chows down

Silver Charm smiles as he sunbathes in the snow

Silver Charm smiles as he sunbathes in the snow

Geri leaves his hay to come over and say hey

Geri leaves his hay to come over and say hey

Genuine Reward

Genuine Reward

Some horses surpass all captioning...

Some horses surpass all captioning…

Archie's Echo dozes in the peace and quiet.

Archie’s Echo dozes in the peace and quiet.

Should I take that personally, Afternoon Deelites?

Should I take that personally, Afternoon Deelites?

Alphabet Soup enjoys a visit from his friend Linda.

Alphabet Soup enjoys a visit from his friend Linda.

More hay enjoyment. Afternoon Deelites.

More hay enjoyment. Afternoon Deelites.

War Emblem yawns. "You call that excitement? If you want excitement, go to youtube and watch the 2002 Ky Derby."

War Emblem yawns. “You call that excitement? If you want excitement, go to youtube and watch the 2002 Ky Derby.”





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September 4, 2015

On a farm full of old horses, no news is often good news. I’m happy to report that in the past weeks there’s not that much news at Dream Chase farm. One horse does have an unfortunate news item to relate. Some days ago Futural had a paddock accident that injured his left eye. Our vets could not save the eye and it has been surgically removed. Futural is recovering well. His right eye is fine and he’s adjusting in stoic good spirits, eating well and enjoying the extra care he’s getting from Tim, Carole and the barn staff and the love and bananas–his favorite treat–he’s getting from the volunteers.

Futural. I'll post a more recent photo soon as I have one. He's doing well.

Futural. I’ll post a more recent photo soon as I have one. He’s doing well.

While in the hospital Futural got a visit from his special friend, Chris McCarron. The Hall of Fame jockey rode Futural to his victory in the 2001 Mervyn LeRoy (G2) and game seconds in the 2001 Californian (G2) and San Diego Handicap (G1). This wasn’t the first hard luck the two had shared. In July 2001 they finished a strong first in the Hollywood Gold Cup. It should have made Futural a Grade 1 winner and given one of the finest jockeys ever a win in that prestigious race. They were much the best, the inadvertent bump didn’t affect the outcome, and Mr. McCarron rode safely. Their disqualification remains puzzling to many.

Admire Futural’s youthful athleticism in this G1 race for yourself.

Be that as it may, Futural’s present fortitude has won our admiration all over again. After his recovery on stall rest and turnout by himself in a small, safe space, Futural will again be available for visits. According to the plan Tim  recently mentioned, he may get a paddock more on the main tour route than he’s had for some years. For Futural’s excellent medical care Old Friends’ grateful thanks go to our mainstay, Dr. Bryan Waldridge, and at Rood and Riddle, J. Brett Woodie, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVS, and Elizabeth L. Anderson DVM.

Did I say no other news? Maybe not news about the horses, but good things have been going on that make the horses’ days ever more fun and comfortable. For instance, our wonderful new auxiliary stalls and bathing station provide the “back 40,” with nearby in-stall care and exams and convenient facilities for the cooling baths so welcome during hot weather like we’re now having.

Tinners Way enjoys a bath from Antonio and Yoel at the new bathing station. Photo by Tim Wilson.

Tinners Way enjoys a bath from Antonio and Yoel at the new bathing station. Photo by Tim Wilson.

By the way, items are still needed for some of the stalls you see in the background. To hear about those needs, please call the OF office, 502-863-1775.

Another piece of good news that really matters to a few residents:  the regular visits the farm has been getting from JJ Vautier Brown, DVM. Dr. Vautier is a specialist in acupuncture and massage. Hidden Lake is benefiting greatly from her acupuncture sessions. She’d built up soreness, and with each session her stride gets longer and more free. She’s running for the sheer fun of it again. Below is a session with Wallenda. Dr. Vautier brought along Brittany Breidenbach, DVM, a colleague from Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington. Doesn’t this make you want to retire to Old Friends?


Wallenda: “Oooh, yes, that’s the spot! Right there!” Photos by Tim.



Thank you to Dr. Vautier and her colleages!

Meanwhile, as summer heads toward autumn, the horses enjoy the cooling breezes that come each evening.

Sunset is playtime. Massone and Daytona. Photo by Laura.

Sunset is playtime. Massone and Daytona. Photo by Laura.



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