May 24, 2020

A few evenings ago Laura took some photos in the rain that are so spectacular, and so close to the horses’ individual essences, that they don’t need much narration. They come pretty darn close to the horses speaking for themselves.

Because I’m human I feel an urge to apologize for how muddy they are in these pictures. I doubt the horses feel any need to apologize at all. During a spring rain what’s more natural than rolling in the mud?

In this little photo essay Game On Dude shows how it’s done.



Amazombie and Rapid Redux

…once properly decorated, it’s nice to enjoy some fresh, green May time salid.

Bourbonize and Johannesburg Smile take shelter from the rain

Though some take a different view of spring showers.


Najran’s son Palmer’s Approach

Others prefer their water in a glass. Or waterer, as the case may be.

Victor Cooley

Others figure that if you fix a photographer in a steady gaze for long enough, a carrot will often materialize. That technique didn’t work much at Woodbine or Belmont – or maybe Victor Cooley was too busy winning races there – but it’s an amazingly effective method at Old Friends.


Miss Hooligan


Though Touch Gold has moved into the paddock that was War Emblem’s, the 1997 Belmont Stakes winner has brought his signature Grand Entrance with him.

At 26 I think Touch Gold has adopted an attitude that Creator patented: “Old age? Yeah, I read about it somewhere.”

Here are two especially beautiful photos of Miss Du Bois and Elusive Honey.

Miss Du Bois (front) and Elusive Honey

Miss Du Bois poses by herself


Special Ring and Popcorn Deelites are always ready to pose.


As is the breathtakingly gorgeous Einstein.


As usual, Green Mask would rather play.


So would Patch.


…while Stormy Liberal relishes a scratch from Michael.


There are yet more beautiful photos from this most recent session of Laura’s. So many more that soon they’ll make a whole nother blog post or two (can you tell I was an English professor?). For now, I hope you’ll enjoy these glimpses of life as it goes on at Old Friends. With all my heart I look forward to when we can safely open and you can take photos of the horses for yourselves. They’ll be so pleased to see you.

photos by Laura


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May 20, 2020

This week’s Old Friends Blog Visit features Hollywood Gold Cup winner Rail Trip, Ogygian’s descendants Cherono and Johannesbourbon, hard workers Photon, Rathor and Cost Affective, Saint Aloysius, Bunker’s Edge, and Lion Hunter. These horses live in two big pastures south of the main tour route. If you’ve taken one of the regular tours you’ve seen them just beyond Sarava’s paddock and the paddock shared by Soi Phet and Hogy. In fact, getting there means passing Soi Phet and Hogy, who also wanted a carrot and ended up in the video too.


Rail Trip (R) and Cherono

Compared to most of the others, this week’s video is short on information, so I’m including some factoids here. Why is it a little short on clips of horses politely taking turns standing for closeups while they’re being introduced in live-tour fashion?

Well…you’ll see if you watch to the end.

The most impressive pedigrees in that herd belong to Cherono and Lion Hunter. Cherono who is now – hard to believe! – 18 years old is its senior member and leader. He’s by Grand Slam out of Smooth and Classy by Ogygian out of a Never Bend mare. He was a promising runner for Jerry and Ann Moss until an accident cut short his career. Though aware he would not be able to race again, the Moss team gave him the surgery he needed to have the comfortable, paddock-sound life he’s enjoyed with us since 2009. Lion Hunter, 11, is an unraced son of Lion Heart whose dam is by Alydar’s son Turkoman.

Saint Aloysius (front) and Lion Hunter


Saint Aloysius is the youngster of the herd at 7. He’s by Exchange Rate out of a daughter of Saint Liam and is the mischief maker of the herd. He was raced by the late Tom Benson, owner of the New Orleans Saints and other sports teams and trained by Dallas Stewart.


Johannesbourbon, by Ogygian’s juvenile champion grandson Johannesburg, was raced by Bourbon Lane Stable. In the video I say I lost my money on him at Keeneland. To clarify, Johannesbourbon ran in the 2012 Lexington Stakes. Impressed by him in the paddock, I made a bet I would have cashed had the race ended one furlong sooner. So it goes, but he showed talent and competitive spirit. As later developed, he had all a racehorse should, except for perfect knees. When his knee issues worsened, Bourbon Lane sold him for stud purposes but he fell into less ethical hands and was put back on the track on a bottom level circuit. He probably wouldn’t have lasted long there had not Mike McMahon of Bourbon Lane Stable purchased him back and retired him with us. Does Johannesbourbon dwell on all of this? I doubt it. He hangs out with his cousin Cherono, holds high rank in the herd, and takes no sass from Saint Aloysius.


Photon, 11, a son of Invasor, was a hard working athlete. He raced 36 times and earned nicely at ordinary racing levels. He raced mostly in New York and held the distinction of wins on the dirt at distances varying from 6 furlongs to 1 1/16 mile. He arrived at Old Friends in 2014.


Cost Affective and Bunker’s Edge

The other herd lives one pasture to the south. I say “herd” though they’re now a trio, Palmer’s Approach having moved to a different paddock – so he’ll be in a different video soon. Cost Affective, 10, is the trio’s undisputed leader. He’s by Officer out of a Danzig mare and began his race career as a homebred for Juddmonte Farms. He also was an honest hard worker with 28 starts though only 3 wins in Kentucky and along the East Coast. Later he raced for West Point Thoroughbreds, and afterwards was claimed by Drawing Away Stable. I was wrong in the video. An injury ended his career in July 2018 and he arrived at Old Friends later that year.

I also boo-booed about Bunker’s Edge. He raced 7 times, not 8. One of the nicest horses on the farm, he looks like a diminutive version of his dad, the great Giant’s Causeway. His damsire is Mr. Prospector, so his pedigree is plenty impressive, too. The video explains why he has two name signs, one as Bunker’s Edge and one as Shirley’s Horse.


The Irishman, Rathor, is 18 and so the senior in the trio. He’s by Machiavellian … Street Cry’s damsire, so a close cousin of Zenyatta for all you Z fans out there … wonder if those interestingly shaped blazes are a family trait? Rathor raced 48 times in England and America and won 12. He was trained by Bobby Frankel and a good earner on all three surfaces. Though not famous, he holds the distinction of beating Funny Cide in a race Rathor won at Keeneland.

These are the horses. Here’s the video. This one is a two-parter, the straight version and the blooper reel.

photos by Laura


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May 13, 2020

“Ain’t too proud to beg.” Muliple Grade 1 winner Affirmed Success finagles a carrot from Laura.

He used the same move on me a few evenings later when I made the video. Again, it worked magnificently. Affirmed Success is one of the biggest stars at Old Friends’ Georgetown farm. He hasn’t lived on the front of the farm for some years, so he’s not on the regular tour route. He’s made his home in big pastures with the original gelding herd, of which he and Kudos remain the foundation members. Both of them are featured in this week’s Old Friends Blog Visit video.

Affirmed Success, now 26, won the Vosbergh (G1) beating no less than Tale of the Cat and Distorted Humor, the Cigar Mile (G1) , the Carter H (G1), the Forego H (G2), the General George (G2), two runnings of the Poker H (G3), and the Toboggan (G3) which he won at age 9. I never saw him race in person, but whenever I felt down I knew that win or lose, a race of his on TV would leave me smiling. Affirmed Success was the definition of courage. I’m still in awe of the old warrior and I often tell him so.

El Oh El (foreground) and Kudos (pretending to be in the background)

Kudos, looking deceptively modest in this photo, is actually anything but. His many claims to fame include earning a million dollars on both the turf and the dirt for owners Jerry and Ann Moss and trainer Richard Mandella, his victories in the Oaklawn H (G1) and Californian S (G2) and other stakes, and the track record he set for 1 3/16 miles at Hollywood Park. Oh, and also the time he photo bombed Michael and Invigorate on the cover of People magazine. Kudos, who’s 23, has mellowed over the years he’s been with us but still holds high rank in his herd.

The handsome El Oh El, at 10 the youngest member of the herd, now leads it due to his youthful energy. He’s a vocal nickerer and very clever. Though not a champion, he’s a successful veteran of 55 starts. Bred by Mace and Samantha Siegel, he’s a son of Speightstown and raced on the Eastern Seaboard.


Fabulous Strike

Fabulous Strike, 17 now, won $1.5 million. He also won a running of the Vosburgh (G1), as well as the True North H (G2), Alfred G. Vanderbilt H (G2), Aristides H (G3), Gravesend H (G3). Confident yet nearly always the gentleman, he doesn’t need to order his paddock mates around to be the solid rock supporting his herd’s sense of security.


Others starring in this week’s video are 2011 Kentucky Derby competitor and outstanding sprinter Comma to the Top, 2002 Derby contender Easy Grades, Interwin the Australian who never won a race but was a three star eventer…


…Nothern Stone (a. k. a. Rocky), Hussonfirst, Fantastic Day, Marshall Rooster, Sokitumi Samurai…

Sokitumi Samurai


…Sakatoga Stables’ Saratoga Episode, Tuneintobow (a. k. a. Bobo)…



… along with a finale from Wake Forest and Brilliant Decision and hellos from Silver Charm, Alphabet Soup, and Maggie the cat. I hope you’ll enjoy it.



photos by Laura




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May 8, 2020

2017 & 2018 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner Stormy Liberal is one of the horses featured in this week’s OF Blog Visit. Here he is photographed by Laura in much prettier weather two days before the overcast evening of the video.

Whether acclaimed champions or just hard working horses who did their best, it’s a privilege and joy to spend time with the Old Friends retirees. That’s something that strikes me freshly every time I’m with them or am able to do anything for them. Even when it’s time to take more video clips and the weather doesn’t cooperate. Even when the horses wonder why I’m standing there talking to no one with a mysterious rectangular object in front of my face.

This week’s Old Friends Blog Visit may not quite be the “dark and stormy night” of its opening line. In fact, it wasn’t raining at all, though unlike in these beautiful photos Laura took a few evenings earlier, the light was leaden and the colors aren’t bright.

Ide also stars.


And Eye of the Tiger.

But horses are always a bright spot, so here’s this week’s video visit with Stormy Liberal, Ide, Eye of the Tiger, Amazombie, Green Mask and Little Silver Charm, plus cameo appearances by Pollard’s Vision, Patch and Rapid Redux. As for Little Mike and Sun King…well, you can decide about that. I mean, they already had nice, long segments in last week’s video.

2011 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Amazombie was more into socializing than Rapid Redux. Next time, Rapid may be the sociable one.

I apologize that Alphabet Soup and Gorgeous George aren’t in this week’s video. Until the weather warms up, those two are still doing their turnout time by day and spending the chilly nights in the stall they share. As I promised Alphabet Soup when he looked out of his stall to say hello I plan to devote quality video time to him and George when the days heat up and they start spending the cool of the evenings outside.

Little Silver Charm puts in an appearance.


2012 Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Little Mike: “If it’s happening in my home, it’s my party.”


Sun King is never an attention hound.

Whatever the weather, I hope you’ll enjoy this visit with more of our most illustrious former athletes, Old Friends Blog Visit 8, Favorites on the Front of the Farm, part 2.


photos by Laura

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May 5, 2020

This weekend Laura took some of the most gorgeous photos of several of the horses that, to my mind, have ever been taken of them. I want to share my favorites with you.

Riva Way, 22 year old son of Tinner’s Way, and grandson of Secretariat


Ivan Fallunovalot, 10 year old Texas bred graded stakes winner


Sokitumi Samurai, an 11 year old son of First Samurai


Discreet Hero and Cappucino Kid share a mutual back scratch


Padua’s Pride, an Irish son of Caerleon, is 23.


Fergus Mac Roich, 13, is a son of Peace Rules.


Disturbingthepeace (with the blaze) and Slamming, share a paddock with Riva, Fergus, and Summer Attraction.


Brilliant Decision, a grandson of Ogygian


Now I’ll admit it. I hope you enjoy these gorgeous photos, but they’re also bait to draw you in. If you haven’t yet donated to Old Friends through the GoFundMe Giving Tuesday Charity Grant Program, please consider doing so. If you already have, thank you!!! Until tours are again possible, you are making all the difference to them.

Click Here to Donate

photos by Laura Battles


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May 2, 2020

Though today isn’t Kentucky Derby Day 2020, the first Saturday in May is too much in my DNA not to be thinking about the Derby. As we look forward to this year’s Derby which is rescheduled for the first Saturday in September (Sept. 5th, 2020), the quiet of this spring allows time to contemplate and admire the great athletes that have competed in past runnings of the Kentucky Derby.

A good many of them live at Old Friends. A good many others spent their final years with us. We’re proud to be the place one of the greatest living Derby winners calls his home.

Silver Charm

Silver Charm, winner of the 1997 Kentucky Derby, came to live with us on December 1, 2014. He was owned by Bob and Beverly Lewis, trained by Bob Baffert and his jockey was Gary Stevens. The Lewis family repurchased him on retirement from the Japan Bloodhorse Breeders’ Association (JBBA) and donated him to Old Friends. He arrived accompanied by Sandy Hatfield, Stallion Manager for Three Chimneys Farm, who formed a bond with the handsome grey champion while he was doing stud duty at that farm and arranged the logistics of his relocation. Silver Charm, who was inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in 2007, is 26 years old now. He’s one of the smartest and kindest horses we’ve ever had the privilege to know. Quietly regal and unfailingly gracious to his friends, he’s a bit of a task-master with those he considers his servants, from Michael on down. He’s a horse of decided opinions who knows his own greatness and in the manner of the genuinely great, shows it in his generous spirit. But if this sounds solemn, those of you who know him have probably seen those flashes of his other side, his mischievous sense of humor.

As all of us, staff, volunteers and friends, will never forget, we’ve also been privileged to be the home of two other Kentucky Derby winners, War Emblem who passed less than two months ago and who we desperately miss, and Charismatic for whom we waited so long and whom we’ll never stop missing.

War Emblem

War Emblem won the 2002 Kentucky Derby wire-to-wire over one of the strongest fields of the century so far. Owned by the Thoroughbred Corporation, trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Victor Espinoza, he was as legendary for his fierce character as for his considerable prowess. He spent his stallion career at Shadai Stallion Station in Japan and sired 2012 Japanese champion filly Robe Tissage, among other talented competitors. When War Emblem retired himself by refusing to cover mares, Shadai Stallion Station generously donated the spirited Derby and Preakness winner to Old Friends. Though never a team player, he was surprisingly interactive and involved with people, and with all that went on around him. As those of you who visited him know, War Emblem came over to say hello to nearly everyone who came to see him (and, admittedly, to get carrots), seven days a week, three times a day. What else is to say, but that he was one of a kind?


Charismatic. Say what you like, I still think he would have won the Triple Crown. Coming from behind he overwhelmed the others in the 1999 Derby for owners Bob and Beverly Lewis and trainer D. Wayne Lukas, ridden by Chris Antley. I know he did win plenty of hearts in his all too brief retirement with us. Charismatic stood at Lane’s End Farm in Kentucky, then JBBA in Japan, and like Silver Charm, he had financial support for his return home from the Lewis family. All three of our Derby winners have proved in different ways a little imperious, and Charismatic was no exception. Unlike War Emblem he was kind, and the ultimate team player, but once he caught on that groups of people moving around the farm meant carrots – which he did at once – he neighed when he saw a group, demanding their attention and carrots immediately. He was big yet graceful, flashy with that gold coat and those white stockings, beautiful and distinctive. Though he left too soon, he left a gift we treasure to this day: his son, Sun King.

Not only Derby winners but each Derby competitor, is a superb young athlete. All have proven the right to compete in the most important horse race in America. Running in the Kentucky Derby is an honor that forever distinguishes those competitors. If my count is right, nine of our current retirees have participated in a Kentucky Derby. They are:

Afternoon Deelites being visited last May by his jockey, Kent Desormeux; 1995 Derby (won by Thunder Gulch, son of Gulch).


Easy Grades, 2002 Derby (won by War Emblem)


Eye of the Tiger, 2003 Derby (won by Funny Cide)


Pollard’s Vision, 2004 Derby (won by Smarty Jones). Pollard’s Vision also sired 2010 Kentucky Oaks winner Blind Luck.


Sun King, 2005 Derby (won by Giacomo).


Nobiz Like Shobiz, 2007 Derby (won by Street Sense).


Soldat, 2011 Derby (won by Animal Kingdom).


Comma to the Top also ran in the 2011 Derby.


Patch, 2017 Derby (won by Always Dreaming).


Finally, we honor the memory of our past Derby contender residents, with the names of the winners in case that helps you remember that Derby. That may also help locate each one’s Derby to watch our friends run for the roses once again, whether this afternoon on NBC, at the Kentucky Derby Museum, or any time you like on Youtube.

Taylor’s Special, 1984 Derby (won by Swale)

Gulch, 1987 Derby (won by Alysheba)

Proper Reality, 1988 Derby (won by Winning Colors)

Bull Inthe Heather, 1993 Derby (won by Sea Hero)

Wallenda, 1993 Derby (won by Sea Hero)

A P Valentine, 2001 Derby (won by Monarchos)

Lusty Latin, 2002 Derby (won by War Emblem)

Have I overlooked anyone? I hope not, but if you spot a missing Derby-contender Old Friends retiree, please leave a comment and I’ll add that horse to the list.

photos by Laura

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April 29, 2020

Sarava kicks off this week’s Old Friends Blog Visit.

This week’s Old Friends Blog Visit video is dedicated to all of you who planned to come see us this spring. It’s a peek at how the favorites everyone knows, our front-of-the-farm meeters and greeters, are doing. Because I miss doing tours in person so much, I took a lot of carrots and did my best to recreate the feeling of being on a tour.

Game On Dude

Little Mike

So here’s a hello from the horses on the main route in the front of the farm. It features familiar favorites Sarava, Nicanor, Game On Dude, Little Mike, Touch Gold, Silver Charm, River Squall, Afternoon Deelites, Little Silver Charm, Popcorn Deelites and Special Ring, You and I, and Sun King.

Little Silver Charm

Sun King

Two other horses who’ve been with us for years but who aren’t always on the regular tours due to time constraints are Nobiz Like Shobiz and Smooth Air.

Smooth Air

We’ll also drop in on relatively new residents, Hogy and Soi Phet.

Soi Phet nuzzles Hogy

New guy in the neighborhood Pollard’s Vision also came over to say hello.

the handsome Pollard’s Vision

And then there’s Patch, who more or less stole the show. Watch out, Popcorn, Ring and Nicanor, once we reopen for visits you’re going to have some definite competition for the position of most lovable ham on the farm.


The video is just below, but first an apology to everyone whose particular favorites aren’t included this week. I hope next week’s video will star Alphabet Soup and Gorgeous George, Green Mask, Ide, Amazombie and Rapid Redux, Eye of the Tiger, and Stormy Liberal. Only then will our separate-but-together visit to the residents on the front of the farm be truly complete.

So, get out your virtual carrots and join me for Old Friends Blog Visit 7 with some of our most-loved residents.

photos by Laura



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April 23, 2020

200422 Einstein

Einstein is one of the horses featured in this week’s Old Friends Blog Visit video.

On a cool but sparkling green April evening I took a walk up the hill to see which of the horses felt like coming over to say hi. Anybody who did would get into this weeks Old Friends Blog Visit video, I decided.

200422 Victor

Canadian star Victor Cooley won the Queen’s Plate at Woodbine then came south and showed Belmont and Keeneland how a great sprinter runs. Victor is now 27.

Pretty much everybody did, and that’s a whole lot of horses. Einstein, Arson Squad, Fighting City Hall, Joey P., Dinard, Archie’s Echo, Elusive Honey, Miss Du Bois, Count the Gold, Maybesomaybenot, Bobby Sands, Areyoutalkintome, Victor Cooley, Seek Gold, Skip’s World, Elaborate, Deeply Undervalued, Diversify, Lady Grizzley, MissZoey Belle and Miss Hooligan. Whew!

200422 Seek Gold

Touch Gold’s son Seek Gold has lived with us longer than his dad has. He’s in the same herd as Victor Cooley, Skip’s World, Elaborate, and two who didn’t come over to be filmed, El Brujo and Mikethespike.

I should have realized being in the video would be popular since it included plenty of carrots.

200422 Miss Du Bois

Miss Du Bois

It stands to reason Miss Du Bois would want to be on camera. She and her dam, Blanche Du Bois, are named after the character played by Vivien Leigh in the movie version of A Streetcar Named Desire, and Miss Du Bois is the dam of Filmmaker.

200422 Maybe


200422 Bobby

Bobby Sands mugs for the camera

The geldings across the way were also happy to participate. This is when I noticed that Gulch’s son, Bobby Sands, was telling Maybesomaybenot to stand aside when Bobby wanted a carrot. Usually, it’s been Maybe who rules that herd. These two are still fast friends, though.

200422 Arson and City

Arson Squad and Fighting City Hall

To regular visitors it’ll be no surprise that Arson Squad and Fighting City Hall put in an appearance. Arson Squad is a horse of rare qualities. Besides having been an outstanding racehorse and one of the most handsome horses on the farm, and a real charmer, when his blind buddy I’m Charismatic was living, Arson Squad became, essentially, his seeing-eye horse, answering his neighs, letting him know where he was with touches, and showing loving patience when I’m Charismatic bumped into him. Now Arson shares a paddock with Fighting City Hall, who showed off a bit in the video.

200422 Joey and gang

Joey P. (2nd from right) and his companions

In the paddock where Persie and Right to Vote were recently featured, Joey P. decided it was time to step up. Racketeer preferred to graze in the distance. I’ll have to wait to feature him until he decides the time has come.

200422 Deeply Undervalued

Deeply Undervalued

Way up on the back 40 acres, Lady Grizzley and Miss Hooligan obliged, while MissZoey Belle was more interested in the carrot bag she spotted. The fourth member of that herd, Livin For Love, didn’t especially want to be videoed that evening, but she does appear in the background. I’ll try again later to talk her into starring in a segment of her own. In the two back-most pastures, not many of the horses were that interested in interrupting their evening doings, but Deeply Undervalued and Diversify saw this as an excellent opportunity to get all the more carrots.

200422 Diversify

Diversify, looking a little sleepy and wintery in this photo from some months ago, is getting springtime sleek now.

I wish I’d gotten more of Diversify, but he came over only at the last minute to see what Deeply Undervalued was up to. Fortunately for both, who are forming a friendship, there were still plenty of carrots for Diversify, too.

200422 SC and AS barn

Silver Charm and Alphabet Soup on the same evening.

Two who wanted to be in the video but aren’t are Silver Charm and Alphabet Soup (probably also Gorgeous George, who’s not tall enough to look out of his and Alphabet Soup’s stall door). The barn was secured for the night, and following anti-virus safety precautions I only stood at the door, took this snapshot, and promised them they’d star in future Old Friends Blog Visit videos. When the nights turn warm and the days hot, Alphabet Soup and Gorgeous George will probably be outdoors during the mild nights where they’ll be available to star in videos. Silver Charm prefers to spend his nights inside whatever the weather, but he’s promised to make some appearances. He takes his role as Leading Man at Old Friends very seriously.

So, here’s number 6 in the Old Friends Blog Visit series. Of the many who make brief appearances here and those who didn’t, I hope to focus on them all for longer visits in future videos.


photos except for barn snapshot are by Laura


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April 18, 2020

200418 Touch Gold

Touch Gold surveys his springtime domain

Spring is definitely here. The redbuds are in bloom, the dogwoods are coming into their glory, and the leaves are beginning to grow on the shade trees. In other years the Keeneland meet would be in full swing, Lexington would be playing host to visitors, and we’d be welcoming our friends, old and new, travelers and local folks, to enjoy sunny spring Saturdays like today with the horses.

Tour guides would proudly introduce Pollard’s Vision, Patch and Stormy Liberal, reunite Silver Charm and Little Silver Charm with their fans, and young horse lovers would feed treats to retired Breeders’ Cup winners and ex-claimers. Tour buses would pull in and Michael and other guides would golf cart private tours up the hill to see the mares. And, in other Aprils, we’d earn a substantial portion of the yearly cost of the horses’ care.

Last April 1,827 people toured Old Friends, plus about 500 more who arrived on large tour buses. This April the total will be 0.

200414 Area 51

Lion Hunter, Photon (above), Cherono, Saint Aloysius and Johanesbourbon. Photo by Laura.

Through social media we’ll continue doing our best to keep you connected with the horses and raise the funds to support them. To that end, Old Friends has launched a GivingTuesday Charity GoFundme. This campaign was set up to help non-profits – like Old Friends – impacted by the pandemic.

Click here to donate.

At Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement farm in Georgetown, KY, one of our key sources of income is our agri-tourism program. Our farm gates are open daily to visitors who come from all over the world to get up-close-and-personal with our rescued and retired Thoroughbred champions.  They come daily for tours that see them taking a selfie with Kentucky Derby winner Silver Charm, smooching three-time Santa Anita Handicap winner Game On Dude on the nose, and feeding some carrots to Belmont Stakes winner Touch Gold. Our tourism can raise as much as $10 – $15,000 a month in the summer season that all goes to feeding and caring for these amazing animals. And while the champs attract guests, the revenue they raise helps support the numerous horses we have that never set a hoof inside a winner’s circle or those that ended up in less-than-savory situations. 

But in March, as the Pandemic took hold of our nation, our daily tours and gift-shop sales came to a screeching halt, seriously endangering the well-being of our herd .  We’re doing everything we can to weather this terrible storm. Can you help by making a donation today? 

Charity GoFundme Old Friends No-Tours-No-Dollars-Fundraiser

And now, time for this post to morph into a gossip column. On a farm full of horses the herd politics and gossip sessions never slow down for any reason.

200418 Skips World

Skip’s World wasn’t a champion like his grandpa, Skip Away, but he did win a race once. He’s not in this week’s gossip, but he posed nicely last Thursday evening, having demolished one carrot and ready to scarf up another one. That’s Mikethespike in the background.

This week’s two hot items concern the biggest mare herd, and one of the gelding gangs, both on the back 40 acres.

200418 Lady Grizzley

Lady Grizzley didn’t do much racing and wasn’t a successful mom. Her retirement was enabled by former owner Brereton C. Jones.

200418 MissZoey Belle - LB

Miss ZoeyBelle. Fifteen now, she used to race on the Ohio circuit. Photo by Laura.

News Flash:  Lady Grizzley firms up her position as President of the Main Mare Herd. MissZoey Belle, formerly just one of several pretty faces in the crowd, steps up as Vice President. Who elected them? They did. Mares lead busy social lives, and to my mind, more complex ones than do geldings (stallions, of course, pretty much just rule their own turf, keeping up friendships, or not, over their fences).

An alpha mare has responsibilities for her companions, like keeping an eye on her neighborhood and making sure the geldings next door don’t get too fresh, as well as perks, such as getting her first choice of feed tubs at meal times and keeping her companions in line according to her own sense of propriety. Lady Grizzley has whole-heartedly taken on those responsibilities. The other mares, including Miss Hooligan, who considered the job, seem happy to let her do so. MissZoey Belle stepping out as her sidekick was a little surprising, but she’s playing her role well.

200418 Maybe Bobby Talkin

Maybesomaybenot Bobby Sands and Areyoutalkintome, taken back in colder weather by Laura. Trivia for the day: Bobby is a son of Gulch. Areyoutalkintome is Gulch’s great-grandson.

A little more startlingly, Maybesomaybenot has recently abdicated his former position as boss of his herd to his best buddy, Bobby Sands. Why this happened, I’m not sure. Maybe, an outgoing guy and real charmer of horses and humans alike, has been telling Bobby what to do up till now. It may have to do with the changes herd personnel over the last few months. First they lost their good friend Shadow Caster, who died last December. Then Areyoutalkintome took time out of the herd to get medication he needed. That done, he rejoined the gang last month.

One interesting feature of horse society is that each time a member leaves or joins the herd, the entire pecking order gets re-established, and individual relationships within the herd can change. Areyoutalkintome seems to have come back into the herd with more status than when he left it, and for whatever reason, Bobby decided to use the occasion to become boss. Maybe is handling it peacefully, but I’m not sure what he really thinks of this development. Stay tuned for further developments.



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April 14, 2020

200414 Sun King

Sun King! Here he comes! There he goes! Here he comes again!


200409 Sun King

What’s more breathtaking than a horse in motion? A few evenings ago as I walked the farm several of the residents were playing, tussling and having a good time. Though the light was iffy I managed to catch some of the action.

200414 Pops and Ring

Special Ring and Popcorn Deelites

So here’s a little bit of fun for you. Some of these horses you probably know well if you’ve been to the farm. The others live on the stretch of farm to the south of the usual tour route.

200414 Green Mask

Green Mask

200414 Starspangled Heat

Starspangled Heat

200414 DTP and Fergus

Disturbingthepeace (with blaze) and Fergus Mac Roich enjoying a mutual back scratch

I always wanted to make a trendy, hand-held, gritty TV-style action flick.

In order of appearance here’s the Area 51 herd, Tuneintobow and Saratoga Episode with Green Mask looking on, Windy Land (introduction); Little Mike and Game On Dude, Sun King, Popcorn Deelites and Special Ring, Soi Phet and Hogy, Disturbingthepeace and Fergus Mac Roich, Sun King again and Eye of the Tiger, Cherono, Lion Hunter and Saint Aloysius, Starspangled Heat, Windy Land and Kharafa, and Green Mask. And all in two minutes!

I hope to post another, longer, tour-style Old Friends Blog Visit in a few days. Meanwhile, enjoy!

photos by Laura

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