March 28, 2020

Moving day! It happened a few days ago. Pollard’s Vision, Patch and Touch Gold all moved into new paddocks. For each of them it was a move to more desirable real estate. As with humans, what’s more desirable depends on individual preferences and circumstances, and that was so with these three guys’ moves.

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Pollard’s Vision in his new paddock

For Pollard’s Vision, moving out of his quarantine stall with turn-out in a smallish round pen into a big paddock with room to run and the first shoots of grass to graze on, is a wonderful opportunity most of our residents don’t get until their quarantine is over. All new residents undergo a 21 day period where contact is carefully controlled to avoid spreading any possible infection. During this time they also receive medical checks of various kinds and observation from our staff. When many people are coming and going, keeping the horse in designated areas ensures quarantine won’t be accidentally broken. For Pollard, the temporary closing of the farm has a silver lining. He gets to finish his quarantine in the luxury of a full sized paddock with a run-in shelter he can use when he wants, instead of going in and out on people-schedule.

I only got this one photo of him in his new digs because he and his neighbor, You and I, began eyeballing each other over their fences – as stallions do when getting to know each other – and I hustled to shift to video. Soon I hope to edit together some clips of these three enjoying their new paddocks, including the moment between Pollard’s Vision and You and I.

If you’ve been to the farm and wonder which paddock he’s in, it’s the one just north of Ide’s, where Nobiz Like Shobiz used to live. Nobiz is now in the next paddock over, lakefront property … which used to belong to his dad, Albert the Great, who now has a stall and the biggest run connecting to it, between which he can alternate at will.

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Patch in his new paddock

For awhile, Patch was where Pollard is now. But for a horse as beloved by race fans, and as people-loving, as Patch is, a home at the center of the tour route can’t be beat. Patch has moved into the paddock that has been Touch Gold’s for the last few years. This puts him catty-corner to the spot where Pops and Ring do their schtick for every tour that passes through the farm. When we’re able to resume the tours I have a feeling Patch is going to score lots of carrots and love!

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Touch Gold in his new paddock

So, where is Touch Gold? He’s been telling us all along that he, winner of the 1997 Belmont Stakes, deserves special honor. He’s also a boss-stallion in temperament, and those horses usually thrive in a paddock on an outer edge of a cluster of paddocks, where they can guard what they see as a (their!) herd. Touch Gold now has that. The paddock he now calls home has a revered history. Its first resident was Hall of Famer, Precisionist. It has been home to the unforgettable Flying Pidgeon, exceptionally-loved Clever Allemont, and as none of us will ever, ever forget, War Emblem. Touch Gold continues this paddock’s proud tradition. He’s settling in and seems to like it there.

While I’m being wistful, remembering horses we’ve had the privilege to know and love, I’ve made a little thing out of four short scraps of video I took of Creator in 2009. They’re all the video I ever took of him and are too short to upload to youtube separately, so I’ve edited them together. The result is all too short, and it’s over-exposed, just a home movie, but here it is.

Creator lived at Old Friends from 2004 until his passing in 2015. He was foaled in England, won G1s and other stakes in France and Great Britain, and did stud duty in Japan. He and Sunshine Forever were the first two horses Old Friends retired from overseas.

Learning the editing software I downloaded a few days ago, I’ve finished another very short one using the out-takes from the farm morning selections in the last blog post. I tried a story of a sort, the wise man on the mountaintop (alias, Little Silver Charm on his hilltop) contemplating the sunrise and the farm that looks to him for wisdom and guidance. If you know Little Silver Charm, you know what I’m talking about; if you don’t, I recommend his page on Facebook. Anyway, here’s the morning world according to Little Silver Charm.

Little Silver Charm thanks Game On Dude and Little Mike for their assistance in making this video, starring Little Silver Charm.

Beth

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March 25, 2020

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Morning Feeding at Old Friends

 

I’d like to share this morning at the farm with you.

For now the rain has let up, but it’s still muddy and at 7:45, remnants of mist were still hiding the sun. The farm’s early routines were in progress. Breakfast was being fed, hay was being delivered, and the daily checks on each horse’s condition were being carried out.

Though Lion Hunter had just finished breakfast (see his foody nose in the clip below?), he came over hoping I might have carrots. This time I didn’t, but Saint Aloysius joined him. Lion Hunter is an unraced son of Lion Heart. Saint Aloysius raced twice for the late Tom Benson, owner of the New Orleans Saints before a tendon injury ended his career and Mr. Benson enabled his retirement with us.

As the two geldings wondered why I was holding an ipad to my face and not doing anything, breakfast was delivered across the opposite paddock for Eldaafer, Boule d’Or and Yahoo the goat. Bet you can tell which feed tub is Yahoo’s in this video.

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Eldaafer and Boule d’Or chow down on the breakfast delivered in the video.

 

A little later I was on the other side of the farm hoping to catch a clip of You and I doing something more interesting than walking up and nosing the ipad. Sure enough that’s exactly what he did, walk up and nose the ipad. Photographing horses can be a lot like photographing cats. But then up drove Carole for the check she and Antonio do daily on every horse on the farm. In this clip she’s checked You and I and is giving him the Cushing’s medicine Dr. Waldridge prescribed. Cushing’s Syndrome is a pituitary glad disorder that occurs in some older horses. John Henry’s fans will remember that he also had it. A horse with Cushing’s can live happily for years with proper treatment, diet and care. You and I is 29. He won the 1995 Met Mile and Brooklyn Stakes among other top races, and he sired the great filly You.

Next, Carole gave 6 year old Patch his daily soundness check.

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Patch

We’ll be so happy when human health concerns no longer necessitate closing the farm to visitors. Then Patch can finally go into action as a star meeter and greeter. He makes is clear he’ll love his new job.

 

Of course, nobody on the whole farm will be more pleased to resume their gig as entertainers than Special Ring (he of the much-vaunted tattoo) and Seabiscuit movie star Popcorn Deelites.

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What Pops (L) and Ringy do when they’re not “on.”

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Popcorn in a pensive moment

 

 

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Silver Charm enjoys a quiet graze this morning

 

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While Albert the Great keeps an eye on the world

 

A few days ago after breakfast, Game on Dude invited Little Mike to tussle. They love a game of “got your halter!” and Dude seems a little puzzled. Where is Mike’s halter?

 

 

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27 year old Ide

Though he’d just had breakfast, Ide was a little put out that I hadn’t brought either lunch or treats. Eye of the Tiger, in the next paddock, may have mistaken Ide’s head-shaking reproval as meant for him. So Tiger came over and gave Ide a little what-for. These two neighbors get along well, but stallions are very proud when it comes to their dignity.

 

29 year old Alphabet Soup is also a stallion, but he’s the most serene horse on the farm. He’s peaceful toward his neighbors, exceptionally sweet with people, and he loves his miniature donkey buddy, Gorgeous George.

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Alphabet Soup and Gorgeous George are inseparable.

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Well, almost.

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“Hey buddy, come on back here.”

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But first, Gorgeous George pauses to pose for the camera.

 

Though things are pretty quiet, a great event for the barn staff members with paperwork duties is the finishing of the office that’s been under construction for them all winter. Isn’t that little porch cool?

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Actually, this little office is even better than cool, it’s a major improvement in work conditions for Tim, Carole and Antonio, who do quite a lot of paperwork, tracking the soundness, body condition and health care of the 134 horses on the farm. For years, they’ve worked for hours a day at a computer crammed in the back of the feed shack. Those of you who’ve been to the farm may know that little shack next to the round pen. If you don’t that’s the feed shack near the green Gator in the photo above. It’s full of bagged feed and supplements, without air conditioning and windowless, which has made working there hard in the heat of the summer. So, wow! Check out this new work space!

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200325 Office chair Carole

Our sincere thanks for the support that enabled this improvement that increases both comfort and capability. Our farm and office staff are staying healthy and are continuing to take their usual excellent care of the horses and administration of Old Friends. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your continuing support which makes it all possible!

Beth

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March 23, 2020

We’ve had more rain, but yesterday evening Laura took advantage of the changeable light. I’m delighted to combine today’s blog post with a selection of the beautiful photos she’s shared. Like this one of Green Mask.

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Green Mask

Green Mask is one of our younger residents at 9 years old. He won the Paradise Creek Stakes, the Bonapaw Stakes (named for our loved and much-missed Louisiana sprinter), the Twin Spires Turf Sprint (G3), Highlander Stakes (G2) and Troy Handicap before a fracture cut his race career short. Thanks to his trainer Brad Cox, racing owner Abdullah Saeed Almaddah and the exceptional care he received from the folks at the New Bolton Center in Pennsylvania, “Greenie” enjoys a good life and does plenty of romping during his considerable turn-out time. If you’ve met him during a visit, you probably remember that backwards question mark adorning his face and his unquenchable eagerness for carrots.

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Joey P

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Right to Vote

New Jersey hero Joey P and Glitterman’s great-grandson Right to Vote share a paddock with Racketeer on the part of the farm that slopes up toward the back tree line. Both were very good racehorses in their day. Joey P’s most prestigious win was the Jersey Shore Breeders’ Cup Stakes (G3) at age 3. Yesterday he turned 18. Right to Vote, the boss of the trio, is 11. He won three stakes races and is multiple graded stakes-placed. And talk about carrot moochers…!

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Persie

Across from them lives Persie, one of the winningest claimers of recent years. He’s a son of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense. At 7 he’s lively, mischievous at times, and full of happiness at the coming of spring – as are we all! The guy watching him in the photo above is either Johannesburg Smile or Bourbonize. Our neighbors’ houses sure look close and looming, but they’re actually not, it’s the camera lens.

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Here’s Miss Du Bois. Doesn’t she look gorgeous after the grooming Laura gave her? She’s still got a lot of her winter coat, as they all do, but all our horses are starting to shed their winter fuzz by the handful. Time’s approaching for making sure our shedding tools are in our grooming kits. Shedding can be work, but many of the horses show how good it feels by lowering their heads, half-closing their eyes and letting their ears go floppy. One of the sights of spring is when the shed fuzz picked up by the shedder goes scattering on the breeze like dandelion fluff.

I won’t accuse Laura of playing favorites, but Miss Du Bois sure does get a lot of carrots and back scratches.

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Comma to the Top

Comma to the Top is another of our younger retirees. Remember him as a 2011 Kentucky Derby contender? He’s now twelve and shares one of the biggest, most scenic paddocks on the farm with Fantastic Day, Sokitumi Samurai, Hussonfirst…

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Hussonfirst

 

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Fabulous Strike

… and Fabulous Strike, who always seems quite aware of how handsome he is. “Fab” will turn 17 on April 4. He won a whole bunch of graded stakes, including the hugely presigious Vosburgh (G1) at Belmont Park in 2007.

 

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Easy Grades

Speaking of Derby contenders, here’s Easy Grades, 21 now. He took the West Coast road to the 2002 (War Emblem’s) Kentucky Derby. At age 9 he was still racing, having dropped to low claiming levels. When he was no longer competitive even for $5,000 on the track where he’d once run for the roses, his connections enabled his retirement to Old Friends. So here he is with a gleam in his eye and a piece of hay to chew on.

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Einstein

And talk about handsome. Here’s the brilliant and personable Einstein, who proved over and over that he could handle any surface, anywhere in the country. Einstein is one of those special horses whose presence is much bigger than the physical space he occupies. He’s full of charisma, feisty but affectionate, and he knows he’s something very special. In fact, he’s so handsome I’ve just got to post two photos of him.

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Einstein, contemplating.

To end up today’s blog visit to the farm, here’s a horse who’s a favorite with many, and our second-eldest Thoroughbred (third-eldest horse, Little Silver Charm says to make sure I mention). Archie’s Echo wasn’t a champion on the track. Far from it, in fact. But he’s proved himself a champion survivor. Officially he’s 31 years old. His real birthday will be May 8. In experience, cleverness and will power, Archie is ageless. Last night Laura caught him enjoying a roll.

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Way to go, Archie! Here he is ready for a treat and some loving, with his buddy 32 year old Dinard.

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Dinard and the irrepressible Archie’s Echo

Enjoy and be well.

Beth
photos by Laura

 

 

 

 

 

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March 20, 2020

Having fixed my iPad so that I can resume uploading in HD, I waited eagerly all through this warm, sunny March day for a spectacular evening to light up the greening grass, blooming trees and playful horses. But, as events we’re living through should have taught me, predictions often bear little relation to outcomes. As late afternoon came, the sky clouded up again as it’s been for days. So much for colorful, clear sunset photos or videos.

But here are a few moments I did capture on the muddy, grey early evenings of March 17 and March 20.

Little Mike

Little Mike, bespattered but noble, posed with the blooming trees and pond in the background, as if he knew their beauty would appropriately set off his handsomeness. This snapshot was taken this evening when it was windy but pleasantly warm.

Hogy

Hogy (and Soi Phet’s hindquarters) were cozily blanketed a few evenings earlier when we humans were still wearing coats, too.

If you’ve visited with us in recent years, this sequence may be a familiar sight. I hope it’ll serve as an almost-mini-tour. Here’s your greeting from fierce 1997 Belmont Stakes winner, Touch Gold, who loves to awe his visitors by looking at them from way across his paddock as if he has no intention of coming over, at last starting out at a casual amble, and when least expected, exploding into impressive speed. He often accompanies his arrival with a commanding snort.

Touch Gold spots the possibility of treats!

He speeds faster than the camera’s shutter…

… And arrives impressively!

And yes, he did get a treat.

Overcast as it may be, it’s definitely spring in Kentucky. Among the many signs are the bright golden dandelions in the grass. Come on, admit it, dandelions are pretty before they seed. Dagmar Galleithner-Steiner, Old Friends’ artist in residence and author of The Art of Old Friends, put one in her jacket, a promise of brighter times to come. Doesn’t it add even more enjoyment to an already happy photo?

Dagmar Galleithner-Steiner and Stormy Liberal

Stormy Liberal thinks so, too.

Dandelion? What dandelion?

Though I couldn’t get the bright, clear video I’d hoped for, of horses playing in the sunset, I did catch a moment of contentment as the grand old gelding and king of Los Alamitos, Soi Phet, chowed down on hay with the air of a seasoned warrior who knows he’s earned the right to rest on his laurels. At ten he was the oldest horse ever to win a stakes race at Santa Anita. Now he’s twelve and has settled into a contented retirement.

 

Note: A concerned comment was submitted about Dagmar’s presence on the farm, so, a gentle reminder:  she’s our artist in residence. She and her family live on the farm. In these photos she was “in place.” All our wonderful friends, be assured that Old Friends is strictly following organized and responsible guidelines to prioritize the health of those who are taking care of the horses that you, and we, love.

Beth

 

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March 18, 2020

Old Friends regrets the necessity to suspend tours until further notice and cancel the gatherings for Patch and Stormy Liberal, Homecoming, and Memorial Day. Through this time our social media will feature more than usual news, photos and videos from the main farm. I’ll continue to post this blog every two or three days. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter if you don’t already, and don’t forget to follow Old Friends at Cabin Creek. We’ll all do our best to keep you in touch with the horses.

When visits resume, Pollard’s Vision really, really, really looks forward to seeing you!

But you don’t have to wait for a tour in person to visit with him. Michael invites you for this little Blog Visit with Pollard’s Vision. Sit back right now and enjoy!

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March 16, 2020

Old Friends warmly welcomes a little stallion of great courage and a fan favorite. Hello, Pollard’s Vision.

Pollard’s Vision
2001 bay Horse Carson City – Etats Unis (Dixieland Band)

Remember him on the trail to the 2004 Kentucky Derby? Smarty Jones won that Derby, but spectators fell in love with a little bay colt who won races dauntlessly though he had no sight in his right eye. He was named for Seabiscuit’s jockey, Red Pollard, who was also blind in the right eye, and like his namesake he made his mark on racing. Though he didn’t win the Kentucky Derby, he won the Illinois Derby and Lone Star Derby, was second in the Pennsylvania Derby, West Virginia Derby and Ohio Derby, and ran third in the Louisiana Derby. He also won the 2004 Leonard Richards Stakes and 2005 National Jockey Club Handicap.

I found no videos of any of his wins to link to. That’s a shame because they were unforgettable. He seemed to always draw post position 1, on the very inside where he couldn’t see a thing. When possible, John Velazquez, Eibar Coa or Jerry Bailey would get him to the outside where he could see the competition and run them down, but he also won by shooting ahead of all the traffic from the start. If your pedigree is Carson City and Dixieland Band you can do that, and wherever he was placed, Pollard’s Vision really delivered on those alert accelerations.

He had another signature. To eyeball the track ahead of him, he ran with his head slightly turned. That must have hampered his speed a little. It left his fans wondering just how sizzling fast this colt might have run if he’d been fully sighted and run with his head straight. He was a hero.

If you don’t remember him on the track, maybe you know him as the sire of Blind Luck who won the 2010 Kentucky Oaks among her many Grade 1s and was 2010 Eclipse Champion Three-Year-Old Filly.

Pollard’s Vision’s third career, as an Old Friends personality, is beginning in an unusually quiet environment with the temporary suspension of our tours, but for a new resident that’s not entirely bad. He’s now doing the quarantine all new arrivals do, dividing his time between a stall and a small turn-out paddock where he can get used to his surroundings. He’s handling his settling in with alert intelligence and poised confidence. He seems perky, sensible, and friendly.

Here’s a glimpse of him settling in.

Being a stallion, he’s also establishing himself as a neighbor the other stallions had better respect. Here’s another short video of him on his first morning at OF. The horse he’s exchanging brags with is Albert the Great.

Beth

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March 14, 2020

Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, Old Friends has temporarily suspended tours until at least March 27. Further plans will be announced as we can determine what’s safest for the community and our supporters. The status of our planned Stormy Liberal & Patch celebration and Homecoming Event will be announced as their dates draw closer.

During this time, to help you stay in touch with the horses, I’ll do my best to post something every two days. Whether there’s news or just everyday horsey doings, I’ll include snapshots of as many of the horses as I can. Today it’s grey and rainy so I’m glad I made a few snapshots and videos yesterday.

Though it was a bright spring day, we still have a big hole in our hearts.

Honestly, none of us can quite take in his going even yet. When I walk out the side door of the barn it still seems the most natural thing in the world to call, “Mr. Emblem,” and see that beautiful black head lift, streaked with that distinctive white blaze, and those fiercely expressive eyes figuring what might be in it for him.

Come what may, care for the horses continues on its regular schedule. They get their feed for breakfast and dinner, some of them are also on the lunch program, some get supplement snacks, and with the grass only beginning to get its spring goodness all the horses are still getting their daily hay delivery.

The tractor has just delivered Racketeer, Right to Vote, and Joey P a big, munchy round bale

They’ll miss their admiring visitors, but they’re not lonely. Each horse on the farm gets a thorough daily examination from Carole and Antonio, and whatever individual care that particular horse needs from the staff, plus specialists such as the farriers. They also get supervision and companionship as the staff go about chores –  like cleaning waterers and keeping paddocks safe – and maintenance – like repairing fences and farm equipment. Some of the horses ignore all this activity. Others consider it a show put on for their entertainment and occasionally make comments, or even try to help out.

We’ve had a lot of wet weather this winter. The horses seem to be tired of that. They’re loving the warmer sunny days we’re starting to have. On the other hand, mud offers wonderful opportunities.

Messrs. Messy & Messy, a.k.a. Johannesburg Smile (near) and Bourbonize

Horses discovered the oddly satisfying pleasure of playing with slime long before it was an in-thing for people to do.

 

Right to Vote looks on from the paddock across the way.

To finish up this brief virtual visit to the farm, here’s our most senior Thoroughbred, Dinard, getting a carrot yesterday from one of his longtime friends. At 32, Dinard still delights in chomping his carrots and does it well.

Is this what they mean when they say carrots keep your eyes gleaming?

A Moment with Dinard

Beth

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March 11, 2020

War Emblem (February 20, 1999 – March 11, 2020). Winner of the 2002 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes

We are in raw shock and deep mourning. War Emblem’s sudden passing during the night is a loss so great that even as everyone stumbled through the day with tears in our eyes, we couldn’t really take it in.

He was the strongest willed being of any species I have ever known. He made his beauty out of his own fierce spirit. He was intelligent but not very cooperative, social and yet independent and alone, a law unto himself. He also wasn’t especially patient, on tours and such, with being talked about. He much preferred to impress his admirers himself. Out of respect for that, and because the wound is still too new and deep for more words, here are some of the moments and moods of War Emblem as we knew him at Old Friends.

One of the last pictures. Feb 29, 2020.

 

You will always stay vivid, fierce and free in our memories, War Emblem.

 

Beth
photos by Laura

 

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March 2, 2020

Congratulations to Game On Dude
who’s been nominated as a finalist
for induction to the Racing Hall of Fame!

 

Racing Hall of Fame nominee Game On Dude

The other equine finalists are Blind Luck, Havre de Grace, Kona Gold, Rags to Riches and Wise Dan (who, like the Dude, became eligible for the first time this year). Human finalists are trainers Mark Casse, Christophe Clement, Doug O’Neill and David Whiteley, as well as jockey Corey Nakatani. Multiple finalists can be inducted. Among Game On Dude’s many achievements, he is the only horse to ever win the Santa Anita Handicap three times (2011, 2013, 2014), and in 2013 he became one of only two horses in the history of racing to take the West Coast’s three premiere races, the Santa Anita Handicap, Hollywood Gold Cup and Pacific Classic, in one year. His other Grade 1 wins are the 2011 Goodwood, 2012 Hollywood Gold Cup, 2012 Awesome Again Stakes (named for his dad). Besides that, he won more Grade 2 and 3 stakes than there is room here to mention. He was owned by Diamond Pride LLC, Lanni Family Trust, Mercedes Stable LLC and B. Schiappa, trained by Bob Baffert, bred by Adena Springs and ridden to his graded stakes victories by Chantal Sutherland, Mike Smith, Martin Garcia and Rafael Bejarano. Results of the voting will be announced May 6 with the induction open to the public at Fasig-Tipton in Saratoga on the morning of May 7.

 

Two-time Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner, Stormy Liberal looks forward to meeting you.

 

Old Friends in Kentucky goes to our summer tour schedule beginning March 16, with three daily tours at 10:00, 1:00 and 3:00, or schedule a private or group rate tour. To make reservations or learn more, see this page on our site.

Little Silver Charm hopes to see you soon.

 

All of us, horses and humans, are eager for spring. Though this winter’s temperatures have been mild, there’s been a lot of rain. Slogging through the chilly winter mud gets tiring after awhile.

2002 Belmont Stakes winner Sarava takes a nap.

 

We’re also looking forward to the April meet at Keeneland, a busy, happy time for reunions with our many wonderful friends, and for making new friends.

Patch is a sweetheart who enjoys visits.

 

Nicanor just can’t wait.

 

Neither can Sun King. All four feet off the ground!

 

Einstein always welcomes admiration of his many accomplishments. Among them, he won his own Santa Anita Handicap (2009).

 

And of course, our two Kentucky Derby winners, Silver Charm and War Emblem, are on hand to greet all their fans.

Until then, here are a few more of Laura’s photos of our residents whiling away the time until the coming of sunshine, spring grass, and lots of fun socializing with you.

Waiting for dinner. Marshall Rooster (top L), Fantastic Day, Comma to the Top, Fabulous Strike, Hussonfirst, Sokitumi Samurai (foreground). That’s Interwin and Northern Stone in the paddock behind.

 

Another regular evening ritual is turn-in and turn-out time for those horses who spend part of their time in the barn. When Alphabet Soup makes this daily change, he goes on a lead shank, but George doesn’t need one. Wherever Soupie goes, George goes.

Gorgeous George follows Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Alphabet Soup into the barn for the night. Stormy Liberal looks on.

 

New resident Slim Shadey doesn’t live that far off the main tour route. If you ask, we’ll do our very best to make a visit with him available.

 

Rapid Redux (above) and Amazombie (below) share a paddock that’s very close to the tour route. Ask if you’s like to see them.

Arson Squad (above) and his buddy, Fighting City Hall, are also nearby, so if you’re an Arson fan, do ask!

 

A bit farther away, but ready to greet you on private tours, are Lubash, his racing rivals King Kreesa and Kharafa, friendly and sweet-natured mares Miss Du Bois, Elusive Honey, Saudi Poetry, Silver Charm’s daughter Classy Charm, and more.

Lubash

 

Maybesomaybenot enjoys a muddy roll.

Maybesomaybenot, once a juvenile standout, and our two oldest, wisest residents, Dinard (32 years old) and Archie’s Echo (31) also live up at the back of the farm.

Dinard, 32 years old (L), and Archie’s Echo, 31.

 

Afternoon Deelites lives on the main tour route. Notice, he says, 28 and flying with all four hooves spurning the earth.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. Our horses are ready for spring and ready to share fun times with you. We hope to see you this year!

Beth
photos by Laura

 

 

 

 

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February 17, 2020

W. C. Jones (2005-2020)

 

The loss of some horses hits harder than you expect. W. C. Jones lived with us for more than ten years. He seemed a permanent fixture on the farm, never a prima donna, modest in what he asked of his humans and paddock mates, always a kind soul. He hadn’t quite reached his fifteenth birthday. He was solidly paddock sound and seemed one of the healthiest horses on the farm. His fatal attack of colic was unforeseen. But colic can strike suddenly and can be as cruel to young horses as to old ones. W. C. Jones was enjoying his life. It didn’t seem time for him to go.

 

W. C. Jones, August 2017. Photo by Laura.

 

A son of Volponi, he came to us as an unwanted horse because he was unable to earn on the track. It was his trainer, Christophe Clement, who took the steps to secure his future. In his early days with us he was rather shy. What he seemed to want most was just to fit in with the herd. He tagged along with the other horses like a new kid in school, anxious to be part of the gang. Never at the top of the pecking order, but never at the bottom either, he was…I write this with love because he was such a character that I want to be true to him…Jones was sort of the herd nerd.

 

in April 2017, photo by Laura

 

Everybody who knew him, horse and human, was fond of him, and he was happy to accomodate to whatever others did. He was content to let others have the limelight. His secret was that he was a lot smarter than he let on.

 

W. C. Jones with Seek Gold, December 2009, soon after his arrival at Old Friends. Photo by Beth.

 

Jones was rarely to be found grazing alone. He was gregarious, nearly always seeking the company of at least one or two others of the herd. He’d rarely start a paddock race or horseplay, but if anything was going on, he’d usually be in on it. During his decade with us he was in a couple of different herds. These two photos show him with some of the first friends he made on the farm.

With Sea Native, aka Rhett (1999-2016), ca. January 2010. Photo by Beth.

 

He spent his last several years in one of the most spacious pastures on the farm, which is home to a herd of hardy, confident personalities, horses with the energy and exuberance to engage in enthusiastic gallops, games and busy rounds of herd politics.

 

W. C. Jones (R) with Bonapaw (1996-2007). Photo by Laura.

 

As this herd matured they bonded more deeply with each passing season. As Jones matured with them he seemed to me to move closer in to its emotional center. It’s an impression I can’t explain logically, but W. C. Jones became an important part of the glue that held them together socially. Though he was one horse in a large-ish herd, I think they miss him.

 

Jones (R) Grazing with Rail Trip (and Lion Hunter?), June 2017. Photo by Laura.

 

And enjoying games with Photon (center) and Cherono (R), on an evening in September 2018. Photo by Laura.

 

Of his good times on the farm, maybe the happiest event of all was the bond he developed with staff member Carole Oates. Carole gives the main farm horses a good deal of the daily hands-on care that keeps them sound and healthy. Formerly shy, under Carole’s handling W. C. Jones gradually developed a new confidence and trust. It became so much a part of him that he not only came up more readily for treats, he lingered with assurance and began to welcome caresses and neck and back scratches from all of us. The difference was noticeable. It was clear that W. C. Jones’ last several years were his happiest.

 

W. C. Jones snuggling with Photon (R), February 2018. Photo by Laura.

I think he was also particularly fond of Laura. Of his horse friends, he seemed to especially like hanging out with Rail Trip and Photon.

Jones is already much missed on the farm. His good nature, his occasional antics, his sociable eagerness to be part of whatever his herd got up to, the way his big, white blaze signaled even from a distance which one of the all-bay herd was W. C. Jones, are an absence that will take getting used to.

W. C. Jones was very much part of our gang, a personality that was, more than I think I realized, one of the essential ingredients in the mix that has for the last decade been Old Friends in Georgetown. I count myself fortunate to have known him.

 

Photo by Laura

Beth

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