November 13, 2017

20171114 Drive

With the grey cold of November settling in and the last leaves falling from the trees, Laura’s latest batch of photos make for wonderful memories of October.

The horses loved the mild weather and almost unseasonably green grass. It was a month for frisking, playing, and of course, saying hello to the many racing fans who came to Lexington for the Keeneland Fall Meet.

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20171114 Geri and the Heron

Geri naps in the warm sun with one of the pair of great blue herons for company.

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Albert the Great

By the way, Albert the Great and Nobiz Like Shobiz, who have paddocks next to each other, are father and son (Albert is the best son of 1994 Kentucky Derby winner Go For Gin).

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Nobiz Like Shobiz goofs around – something he’s very good at.

New residents Smooth Air and Palmer’s Approach spent October settling in and getting to know what Old Friends is all about. Smooth Air already has some fans among our barn and tour guide staff. He’s not especially flashy looking, but is he ever a beautiful horse.

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Smooth Air

Smooth Air, who’s 12 years old, earned more than a million on the track as a homebred for Mount Joy Stables. He won the Hutcheson Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park, the Ohio Derby (G2), the Needles Stakes at Calder, and the Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2), as well as finishing second in the 2008 Florida Derby and 2009 Met Mile. He ran in the 2008 Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic. Be sure to say hello to him next time you visit us.

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Palmer’s Approach

Palmer’s Approach, also 12 years old, is a son of Najran (remember that amazing 2003 Westchester Handicap?). Palmer overcame physical issues thanks to the dedication of trainer Nick Zito and his wife Kim Zito, and Dr. Scott Palmer, for whom he was named. Their care and belief in him enabled him not only to become a racehorse, but a two-times winner. Palmer’s second career, launched by Lorita Lindemann, was as as hunter/jumper.

And we even had a birthday party. Rare as it is for a Thoroughbred in the northern hemisphere to be born in the fall, on October 15, 1990, Bint Marscay was foaled in Australia, where she was the 1992 Champion Juvenile Filly. At Old Friends, she is the queen of Laura Battles’ love and the lucky recipient of Laura’s special friendship. She’s pretty special to all of us, and deservedly so. Laura held a 27th birthday party for Binty.

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Bint Marscay enjoys a special birthday treat prepared and served with love by Laura.

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Being a most generous birthday girl, Binty was also in a giving mood. She gave Dagmar a good, long back scratch.

If you’re not familiar with the beautiful portraits Dagmar Galleithner Steiner has made of a number of Old Friends retirees and other great horses, I’m sure you’ll be as in awe of her ability to capture not just how they look, but who they are.

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November 1, 2017

Awesome Gem plays peekaboo

A peek-a-boo from Awesome Gem.

Yesterday Dr. Emma Adam, one of the wonderful vets who donate their care to Old Friends’ residents, visited the Georgetown farm for fun, bringing her mother, Chris Adam, who is a tour guide at the National Stud in Newmarket, England. As we golf carted around the farm Chris told me about guiding visitors around this Jockey Club facility that stands stallions, boards broodmares, and provides sales consignment services (Zenyatta’s half-sister Eblouissante is among their graduates). I’d thought maybe visits to the National Stud were limited to prospective clients and others with racing connections, but not at all. The National Stud does group tours for the general public most days by reservation just as we do. Their visitors see stallions, mares with foals in the spring and summer, and yearlings. Chris told me many of the tours she gives are to school groups and senior groups. She enjoys educating people about the phases of the horses’ lives that race goers don’t see, their early life and preparation to begin their racing careers, and the care and breeding of mares and stallions.

Marshall Rooster

“I’m from England, too.” Marshall Rooster

She loves those wonderful moments, also familiar at OF, when the sight of the horses brings light to the eyes of a visitor who’s battling cognitive issues connected with aging, and a smile to their face. The beauty of a horse is a powerful source of joy.

So, though the National Stud is larger and more elegant than Dream Chase Farm, Chris’ priorities and experiences there struck chords. I very much hope some day to take one of her tours.

Here’s the National Stud’s site. Beautiful, eh?

GR in his new paddock

“Tours? That’s my middle name. Genuine Reward in his new paddock

Speaking of tours, a reminder: on Nov. 7 Old Friends in Georgetown goes on its winter tour schedule. We’ll be offering one tour a day at 11:00 am. So come see us this fall or winter!


Amazombie in his same paddock (which he shares with Rapid Redux).


Little Mike (L) and Game On Dude, new friends at Old Friends.

And speaking of out on the farm, I want to share with you some of Laura’s recent photos and a nice partnership that’s growing up. It’s between Game On Dude and Little Mike. “The Dude” liked sharing his paddock with Catlaunch, but “the Cat” currently needs TLC in the barn because of recent dental surgery and, unrelated to that, coordination issues due to EPM. Catlaunch still greets the tours along with some other residents who spend the day in the barn, but he takes his turn-out time in the paddock area connected to his stall, so Game On Dude wanted a new paddockmate.

revving up for a race

Revving up for a play session

What could be more fun for the three-times winner of the Santa Anita Handicap than a buddy who can run with him however fast he wants to go? And what play could be more exciting for the winner of the Arlington Million and Breeders’ Cup Turf than racing a horse as (comparatively) young, (completely) sound, and (still impressively) fast as he is?

Dude and Little Mike race

They start to get their run going.

Dude runs

Dude ain’t kiddin’ around anymore.

These two are having a great time enjoying several impromptu races a day. In their youth both excelled at a mile and a quarter, but since the Dude raced on the dirt and Mike on the turf, who’d have thought to ever see these two champions racing each other? It could only happen at Old Friends!

Little Mike rolling

Mike luxuriates in a nice roll.

Mirroring 2

After play, it’s great just to relax together. Or, “I can do anything you can do, and I can do it just like you.”


photos by Laura


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September 12, 2017

How are they settling in? A little update on new resident Johannesburg Smile and old favorite Archie’s Echo.

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Johannesburg Smile

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Archie’s Echo with his new paddock mates, Early Pioneer and Dinard

Johannesburg Smile, who arrived at the farm in August, completed the standard quarantine for new arrivals with flying colors. Until last week he had morning turn-out in the paddock connected to his stall and in the barn he learned how to meet and greet the afternoon tours–which is to say, he quickly learned how to work the crowds for the maximum carrots. From the beginning he had all the best qualities of a host in the making. He’s beautiful, he’s curious, he’s very nice, and he adores attention.

This week things got even better. Johannesburg Smile has graduated to turn-out all day long. He loves the freedom and running room of his new lifestyle. And I have to admit I’m thrilled too. After his many years on the track, the paddock where he’s learning to be a happy retiree is the paddock that belonged to his great-grandpa, Ogygian. (Johannesburg Smile’s sire, international juvenile champion Johannesburg, is the son of Myth, a daughter of Ogygian.)

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Johannesburg Smile noodling around in the paddock his great-grandpa Ogygian loved.

Here are the best of the snapshots I took of him this afternoon. Outdoors he’s an even better host than he was in the barn. His expression says it all. He’s easing beautifully into the laid-back life that all his hard work has more than earned.

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…Enjoying the breeze in his mane…

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And the trees. And knowing that the photographer thinks he’s special.

It’s the perfect place to learn retirement. At night he goes into the barn and Alphabet Soup, who greets visitors in the barn by day, gets to enjoy that paddock during his 12 hours of turn-out each evening and night.

For Johannesburg Smile, these digs are temporary. When the weather gets cool he’ll be gelded and will probably continue his current lifestyle, where he can have plenty of attention and extra T. L. C. until he settles into gelding-hood and can begin his life as part of a herd, a lifestyle that comes naturally since it’s how horses live in the wild, and it’s how race horses remember their early, playful years, first in their mom’s mare and foal herd, then as yearlings in their own herds. When a young male horse doesn’t have a prospect of a breeding career, gelding him makes the safest and kindest future for him.

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Early Pioneer (L) and Dinard look across the way at their neighbors, Affirmed Success and Kudos, while Archie grazes.

Archie’s Echo had been splitting his own time between the barn by night and that paddock by day. He’s one of our oldest horses at 28, but he’s doing so well that he, too, has graduated to a lifestyle of more freedom and more company. Archie has moved in with Early Pioneer and Dinard who at 29 is the Georgetown farm’s oldest Thorougbred resident.

Early Pioneer and Dinard have been close companions for a good while, so it’s wonderful how peacefully and kindly they’ve accepted Archie. The new threesome all seem contented with their new property, the paddock that was Tinners Way’s. This paddock is next to the tree line at the back, with plenty of shade in the afternoon. When winter comes, the trees make a good windbreak. The only disadvantage is from the perspective of visitors since this paddock isn’t on the regular tour routes. It’s too far up at the back for that.

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Archie’s Echo and Dinard – already good friends.

So if you’ve fallen in love with Archie on a visit–and if you’ve met Archie you probably have fallen in love with him–I just wanted you to know he’s doing great, he still enjoys plenty of attention from all of us on the farm (and plenty of carrot shreds). He’s pleased as punch to have paddock mates. Though not on regular tours, Archie, “Earl” and Dinard can be visited by appointment, as long as any staff is available to take you up to the back. We’ll do our best.

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A love bite.

Speaking of visits, the weather is gorgeous in Kentucky right now, mostly sunny and cool for September. The big tour crowds of summer vacation time have eased into smaller groups with more chance for one-on-one moments with the horses. If it’s been awhile since you’ve visited with us, this is an absolutely ideal time.



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September 5, 2017

We’re sad to have lost Come On Flip, who succumbed last week to chronic laminitis. The 1996 Hawthorne Cup (G2) winner came to the Georgetown Farm a several years ago along with Do One Dance (“Francis”). After Francis passed, Flip spent his turn-out time with Kudos and Affirmed Success.

201705 Come on Flip winter coat

As Flip coped with heat intolerance and other Cushing’s Syndrome (a pituitary gland dysfunction) issues, he was befriended by Old Friends supporters Dr. Val Nicholson and her husband Dr. Brent Haskell. “He had a tough last two years since the death of Francis,” Val recounted. During the daytime he was sheltered from the weather in the upper barn, on the back rise beneath the shade trees and “was really very good about being there. He loved the company of Hidden Lake and Binti who came to their paddock fence to visit him.” After Hidden Lake passed and Bint Marscay moved to another paddock, Flip’s daytime neighbors were Hussonfirst and Lusty Latin. “He was so happy when we took him for a ‘walkabout’ during midday and he could visit the other horses in the ‘back 40.’ He particularly liked Jimbo Fallon.”

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Flip spent his evenings with companions Affirmed Success and Kudos in the paddock the three of them shared on the near side of the upper barn, enjoying the summer night breezes and grazing together.

Val wants to express her heartfelt thanks to Carole and Antonio who provided most of Come On Flip’s hands-on care, and to James, Tammy, Snowden, Zach and Marissa, all of whom contributed to his day to day wellbeing, and to Drs. Waldridge, Fleming, Tanner and Smith for their tireless vet care.

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Come On Flip (R) during his evening turn-out time with Kudos.

We’ll miss Flip. As Brent said, “He was a perpetual five-year-old boy, sometimes stubborn, always loving, who enjoyed his clover until the very end.”

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Photos by Laura


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August 21, 2017

95% Solar Eclipse at Old Friends in Georgetown

What the Big Event was like at the farm!

Today the long awaited event finally arrived. An almost full solar eclipse. Unless an eclipse is total there’s no corona, but the moon covering all but a little sliver of the sun would be pretty dramatic, we figured. The light would get dim and strange, the angles of shadows would be weird. With eclipse glasses we’d see the sun shrink to a narrow crescent, and the world would look like a slightly unfamiliar planet under an alien sun.

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We all prepared for the show.

Michael led a special Eclipse Tour, while some of us gathered near the barn, next to War Emblem’s paddock, where there was a clear view of the sky. Some of the barn crew had supplied themselves with eclipse glasses, and Dr. Waldridge had some super-duper-quality ones which he kindly let us pass around.

2017 08 21 - Humans enjoy the show

Gradually the silhouette of the moon began crossing the sun (Dr. Waldridge: “Now it looks like Pac-man.”). We wondered what the horses and other animals would do when the light got strange and dim. Would it excite them? Puzzle them? We hoped it wouldn’t scare them. Here are some of their reactions, in photos taken during the eclipse.

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Rapid Redux found the event thrilling. (That’s just his summer see-through fly mask, not eclipse gear.)

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Alphabet Soup. “What eclipse?”

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It got dark enough that some of the photos are underexposed. See how impressed Eldaafer and Boule d’Or are. And Photon, at the left.

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Not to mention Google, who was more interested in posing. Mountain Goat!

2017 08 21 - Timmy unconcerned

Or Timmy.

Suddenly, at the height of the eclipse, we saw every single horse over in paddock 51 raise their heads in unison, on total alert. What made them do that? we asked each other. What mysterious thing did they, and only they, sense?

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On the alert

All at once, they took off running. By then it was so dark the camera’s shutter speed had probably slowed down. Any motion came out as a blur. Only a few of them are in the photo, but they were all sweeping across the pasture at a fast gallop.

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Sorry about the focus. It was darker than the photo looks.

As I moved to try to get more of the geldings in the frame, the reason for their dash came into view. A car had parked by the roadside so the people in it could enjoy the nearly full coverage of the sun. A car! Woo, what’s a car doing there? Hey guys, look, a car, wow! Let’s run over and investigate!

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Well, but after all, it was just a car.

The paddock 51 herd soon got bored and went back to where they’d been grazing before (as Amazombie, left foreground, wondered what was up).

2017 08 21 - Dude and Cat aftermath

I don’t think Game On Dude (foreground) and Catlaunch looked up once.

Soon the moon passed on over the sun and it began to get light again. Shadows returned to their usual sizes and colors brightened. The birds, the only ones besides the humans who seemed to notice anything strange was going on, stopped their roosting behavior and began singing again.

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War Emblem: “Ho hum.”

War Emblem seemed to have the final word. “I knew the sun wouldn’t get eaten up. Speaking of eating, when are you-all going to stop gawking at the sky and deliver my dinner?”



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August 11, 2017

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Johannesburg Smile arrives at Old Friends

Here’s a story of a horse who isn’t a star. His retirement didn’t make news. But his journey says a lot about a certain kind of horse. Horses who once thrilled racegoers, once earned nicely for connections and bettors, but later face an uncertain future. Here’s a story of how people worked together to gain one horse a secure retirement.

Johannesburg Smile, foaled in New York in 2007, won the 2011 Noble Nashua Stakes at Belmont Park at 4 years old. At 5 he won the Lemon Drop Kid Stakes. At 6, he reached the top of his game when claimed for $100,000 by Mike Repole and trained by Todd Pletcher, he nearly won the 2013 Toboggan Stakes (G3). Have a look at the determined heart of this horse when he was in his prime.

2013 Toboggan Stakes. Johannesburg Smile is on the inside, post position 1

His body language says it all. At 6 he was into what he was doing and gave his all. He was what the game is all about.

He ran some more good races, but by age 8, time had caught up with him. When he ceased to appear on the track, his apparent retirement made good sense. Then, at age 10, Johannesburg Smile reappeared on the track. This time his claiming tag was $12,500.

You see two kinds of horses racing at that age. One kind, like John Henry, Cetewayo, or Old Friends resident Flick (1992-2016; raced to 2002), stays on top of their game and their competitive urge keeps burning bright. They’re still into it, they can still do it, and that’s great. The other kind isn’t so lucky. For an older has-been, having “back class” can be a double-edged sword. Some people hope the horse will regain some form, or if an ungelded male, might interest a breeder. But by age 10 his former 114 speed figure had dwindled to a dull 80 (Equibase). He was racing hard to nowhere.

Old Friends began trying to retire Johannesburg Smile in early 2017. It’s a long, frustrating story, so I’ll fast forward to June, and his drastic drop into a $4,000 race. But for Johannesburg Smile this became a stroke of luck when Old Friends was contacted by Ginny O’Malley. Turns out other folks had also noticed this horse’s situation. Better yet, they backed their concern with positive help.

So on June 14th, Johannesburg Smile ran his $4,000 race. He no longer had it in him to win even this, but thanks to the teamwork of more than a dozen people, he won a secure retirement. Ron Paolucci of Loooch Racing Stables, Inc. claimed him on our behalf, Ginny cared for him at her farm, then personally trailered him down to Old Friends in Georgetown (Your visit was fun, Ginny. Come back and see him soon!). I’ve seen Facebook posts mentioning more than a dozen people who helped, and I’m aware of still others. If you’re among them, I hope you’ll understand when I don’t attempt a list for fear of leaving out some deserving people. All of you, please accept Old Friends’ heart-felt thanks for your part in getting the job done at last. And please, come visit Johannesburg Smile so we can thank you in person!

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The good life. Photo by Laura Battles.

In fact, everybody reading this post, you’ll love meeting this hard worker who gave his all, as much when he was a low level claimer as when he was in his prime. Of course, at 10 he’s hardly a senior resident at Old Friends. In fact, some of us call him Junior. Or Johan Junior, because he looks so much like his dad, Johannesburg. When he first arrived he was angry. He thought that after his wonderful weeks with Ginny he was back at a track. He looked us right in the eyes and told us exactly what he felt about that—loudly.

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Arrival day. He looks at his new world. “What kinda race track is this?”

But he soon figured out there’s no race track on the farm. He’s so smart, playful and kind that the barn staff and tour guides are already in love with this resourceful charmer. You will be too, when you meet him.


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He’s got a reason to smile. Photo by Laura Battles.






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July 19, 2017

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Bonapaw April 13, 1996 – July 7, 2017

Bonapaw lived with us as a reserved, benign presence. Except for his good looks he didn’t call a lot of attention to himself in retirement, but he sure did attract notice on the track. Bred in Kentucky by Dr. William O. Reed and bought at the Keeneland yearling sale by twins James Richard and Dennis Richard, Bonapaw began racing at Evangeline Downs in Opelousas, Louisiana. At two and three he ran like a pretty good sprinter. At four be developed into an extraordinary one. Having conquered the Louisiana circuit, he went to Oaklawn Park for his first graded stakes win in the Count Fleet Sprint. By this time, Gerard Melancon was his regular jockey.

Bonapaw was on a roll. He marked his five year old campaign with five stakes wins, including the Grade 1 Vosburgh Stakes at Belmont Park, where he beat the formidable Aldebaran. For another year he continued to earn at graded stakes level, raced at Kentucky Downs, and won at Keeneland. He retired to the Richards’ farm with earnings topping $1 million and with a race at the Fair Grounds named after him.

In 2009, James Richard, Jr. retired Bonapaw to Old Friends and he began his new career, greeting his fans and introducing his new admirers to the beauty and athleticism of the Thoroughbred.

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Bonapaw in 2009

When he arrived at the Georgetown farm, a surprise came with him—his trophies. When Michael called Jamie Richard to thank him, Jamie answered that since Bonapaw won the trophies, he figured they were Bonapaw’s. Old Friends has been honored to display Bonapaw’s tall silver Vosburgh trophy on the office mantelpiece for years. Maybe even nearer to our hearts is the glass bowl Bonapaw won in the stakes named for Taylor’s Special.

When Bonapaw first joined the gelding herd in the original left-hand back pasture, he laid down the law to them. That’s a ploy some less dominant horses use when uncertain of their reception, but within a week Bonapaw had fit into what would be his place in the pecking order, not the boss, but a herd member they all accepted.

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The geldings watch their herd companions move to the back 40, 2009. Bonapaw is nearest to the camera.

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Bonapaw ca. 2013

With people, Bonapaw was dignified and a bit aloof, polite but not interested in being best buddies. His good looks drew the eye. His bay coat was a handsome burnt sienna with a touch of flash from his bold blaze and expressive eyes.

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Bonapaw plays with Lion Hunter

As the years went by, what had been the original gelding herd gradually shifted to a younger population. Bonapaw became a senior member but continued to fully participate in their races and the frat boy tone of their play. When this herd moved to the big, new front pasture, he was very much part of the breathtaking sight as they thundered over the rolling land.

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Racing with Cherono, Lion Hunter and Ball Four. Bonapaw is farthest from the camera.

Then he grew less able to keep up with the herd. Along with effects of aging, he was diagnosed with EPM. Equine protozoal myeloencephalitis is caused by a single cell parasite to which nearly all horses are exposed, since it’s carried by opossums and other small quadrupeds. It is not contagious between horses. Its neurological symptoms include loss of coordination, but it does not cause pain.

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He and Yankee Fourtune enjoyed each other’s company.

Moving in with quieter companions, Yankee Fourtune and Regal Sanction, Bonapaw received carefully monitored medication and care from Dr. Waldridge. All the barn staff, Carole and Antonio especially, gave him patient and loving care. He seemed so healthy otherwise that we never gave up hope that the meds would catch up with the condition. Looking at his beautiful body condition and bright eyes, it was hard to accept that he was losing the battle, but he was. Then his symptoms sharply worsened. Treatment and his  strong constitution had done all they could. A well-lived life had run its course.

I’ll always remember Bonapaw’s Vosburgh. And I’ll always remember Bonapaw himself as an eye-catching, peaceable presence, the kind of horse that racing people dream of, and a horse whose benevolent composure his companions, human and horse, appreciated.

All photos by Laura except my 2009 snapshots

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Bonapaw, April 2017


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July 12, 2017

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Tinners Way
May 25, 1990 – July 5, 2017

Tinners Way spent a long, full life upholding family tradition, while being very much his own horse. For many fans of Secretariat, he provided a living connection to his great sire. In his golden coat, white markings and handsome head, you could catch strong glimpses of the Triple Crown champion. But in his own right Tinner was an extraordinary athlete and a most definite presence.

Three Grade 1 wins and $1,846,546 earnings, for Juddmonte Farms and trainer Bobby Frankel, attest to Tinner’s prowess on the track. In the first of his two Pacific Classic (G1) wins he nearly equaled his dad’s Derby record. Secretariat ran a mile and a quarter at Churchill Downs in 1:59.40; Tinners Way covered a mile and a quarter at Del Mar in 1:59.43.

Tinner track - Laura

Tinners Way’s obituary in The Daily Racing Form

At stud in Kentucky, California, then Texas, he continued to enjoy a good life. As the stallion began to age, owning partner Phil Leckinger had such affection for him that he confided that letting Tinner leave Key Ranch wasn’t easy. I spoke with him on the phone once as he was making the decision to retire Tinner to Old Friends, and I remember thinking that whether Tinners Way retired with Phil or with us, this was a horse who’d always have the best of everything.

Yesterday I phoned Phil to reminisce. “You’re supposed to approach it as a business,” he said, “but a lot of sentimentality went into that purchase. I’d watched Tinner from the beginning. There were high hopes when he went to stud. If you go back to the ’96 Blood Horse, Tinner was on the cover: ‘How the West was Won.’ For us, it was a privilege that we could stand him at stud. Being Secretariat’s son put a special shine on him, but I think he was appreciated for more than that. When the time came to retire, we would have given him the care he’d had all his life. Retiring him to Old Friends was a heartfelt tug, but we wanted him to have the best care and wellbeing. And I’m glad he helped Old Friends provide for other retired horses. He had a good run, any way you want to see it.”

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At Old Friends, we’d given a final home to Secretariat’s son, Academy Award, and we still missed the small red stallion whose sweetness was much like Alphabet Soup’s. “Oscar” let children pet and hug him. Tinner immediately told us he was a different kind of horse. He was fiery, proud, a stallion who expected respect, and got it. But he also reached out to people. He wanted to make friends. When he let us know the front of the farm was too busy for him, we gave him a quieter paddock off the beaten track of the three daily tours and all the other comings and goings. Tinner liked his new digs. A line of tall trees provided him shade and a wind break, and instead of the usual stall-sized run-in shed, Tinner had a luxurious double-sized run-in shelter. Unlike some, he wasn’t really a fan of his shed, though. He preferred the front of his paddock. From that high ground he could see pretty much the whole farm, and we could see him.

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Tinner’s preference for the back of the farm made some inconvenience. Visitors who asked to see him sometimes couldn’t when their schedules wouldn’t allow staying after the regular tour, or when no guide was available to take them up the hill. To all who never got to feed him a carrot I offer heartfelt apologies, but I know you understand that Tinner’s wish for calm surroundings had to come first. For all that, he really enjoyed playing host once every day or three. He liked making friends. A long horse but not a tall one, he’d put his nose between the fence boards for carrots, often huffing and puffing (“I’ll blow your house down!”) just so we’d all understand he was no pushover.

His favorite thing of all was to have his butt scratched. A one person, two handed scratch was good. A two people, four handed scratch on his back and butt was bliss. Phil recalled Tinner’s enjoyment of a good scratch. At OF, Laura eventually brought him a wooden back scratcher of his very own, which he loved her to use. Sometimes when I delivered his lunch he’d ignore the food, sling his fanny upside the fence, and call me over.

But other times, it’d be all about the meal, or the carrots, or the neighbors. Tinner’s relationship with the horses in the nearby paddocks was competitive. Whether it was Williamstown, son of Seattle Slew, or Affirmed’s son Affirmed Success, or Zippy Chippy during the summer he spent in Kentucky, Tinners Way made sure everybody knew exactly who he was.

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Who he was—decidedly in his own right—is impossible to put into mere words. Tinners Way had a big presence. He was demanding but outgoing, feisty but affectionate. He was no pussycat, but he had an honest, kind heart. I know I’m just one of those who will always miss Tinner just because he was Tinner.

Photos by Laura

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June 1, 2017

170601 view from new mare pasture

The view from the new pasture, looking over Yankee Fourtune, Regal Sanction, and Bonapaw’s paddock, over Geronimo, Cost Affective and Rathor’s paddock, toward the barn.

We’ve opened up a wonderful big new pasture on the main farm. It’s on the south side, a little up the hill from the hay barn, and it runs all the way back to the tree line. This is one of the most beautiful spots on the farm. In the morning it gets sun, and in the afternoon that solid line of tall trees casts a nice, big shade over the upper part of the paddock.

So, which lucky horses have moved into these great digs? It’s three of the mares, 1992-93 Australian Juvenile Champion Bint Marscay, Ferdinand’s daughter Hidden Dark and Film Maker’s mom, Miss Du Bois. A fourth mare will soon join them, but for now these three girls, who have been together in a smaller paddock for some time, are exploring the wider spaces, their new surroundings, and some conversations with their new neighbors, in one another’s familiar company.

170601 run-in shed and waterer

They have a spacious run-in shed. That brightly colored gizmo is their automatic waterer. You can see their shade trees in the background. Their feed tubs are positioned along the back fence in the afternoon shade, and in the winter the trees will make a bit of a wind break.

170601 the girls

Left to right, Hidden Dark, Miss Du Bois, and Bint Marscay.

Here they are enjoying a gorgeous first morning in June in their new home.

170601 the boys woo-wooing the girls

The guys (Fabulous Strike and Marshall Rooster) woo-woo-ing their new neighbors, the girls. Fabulous Strike was whinnying winningly at them. The girls didn’t pay the two geldings much mind, though.

170601 Binty lady of mystery

Binty, lady of mystery.

Their fly masks don’t make for the best of photos, but they do keep the bugs out of their eyes. On tours I often get asked two questions: Can a horse wearing a fly mask see? Yes. It’s mesh. When you hold a fly mask in front of your own face, the world looks much as it does through a window screen. It provides a little bit of a protective sun glasses effect, but its real purpose is to keep pesky flies out of a horse’s eyes. So—second question—why are only some of the horses wearing fly masks? Often it’s because either they or a paddock mate pulled their fly mask off. And certain residents have let us know they don’t want a fly mask. Also, as a courtesy to visitors, a few of the superstars have no fly mask so that their faces will show in photos. Silver Charm and Game on Dude, for instance, wear no mask and use more fly repellant. As for the magnificently photogenic War Emblem, can you imagine him wanting a fly mask? He’s let us know he most certainly would rather not.

170601 War Emblem

War Emblem. Photo by Laura.

In case you’re wondering who’s moved into the paddock in the back 40 acres vacated by the three girls, it’s two of the guys who have been biding their time in the barn area, Jimbo Fallon who you may have met in his stall or seen in the small outdoor paddock connected to this stall, and Skip Away’s grandson, Skip’s World, who you may have visited when he got his turn-out time in the round pen between the two barns. Jimbo and Skip have known each other across the barn aisle for a some months. Now they’re getting to know each other much better as roommates.

170601 Jimbo and Skip new buddies

“You’re gray, you’re okay.’ Left, Skip’s World. Right, Jimbo Fallon.

As you can see, confident Jimbo seems to be spending some get-acquainted time reassuring his new buddy that life in a paddock of their very own is going to be really great. Their new home is perfect for two horses, with plenty of room to play and graze, and they also have some tree shelter on two sides.

I should mention that all the paddocks in this blog post are off of the main tour route. We try to keep as many of the stars as we can on the front of the farm, on the walking tour routes, but if you want to visit the mares, or Tinners Way who much prefers the peace and quiet at the back of the farm, you can often visit them by request. The best way is to ask ahead of time, when you make the appointment, so we can have someone, and maybe a golf cart, take you to the horse you want to see after the regular tour is done. My other best advice is to schedule your tour for 10:00 or 3:00 during the weekend, when a tour guide or other OF humanoid is nearly always free to take you to see the horse you especially want to see. If at all possible we’ll make it happen.

Currently our main goal is to provide more space and a continuing high standard of care for the growing number of residents at the Georgetown farm. As we do, we will eventually expand the available tour routes. For now, we have an option to make more paddocks–fencing, run-in shed, waterer, ground prep–on land just to the south of the new paddocks. Here’s some of that land.

170601 more land

Beautiful, eh? And it’ll be a lot more beautiful with horses living the good life on it. We’re working hard to make that goal a reality, and we couldn’t do it if it wasn’t for each and every one of you, our fabulous supporters. Thank you!

This morning Michael alerted me to a really great story about Sarava winning the 2002 Belmont Stakes, and about him now on the farm. It’s got good quotes from his partnership owner, Gary Drake and his trainer, Ken McPeek, and some really informative tidbits, so I thought you might enjoy it too. It’s posted on the Bourbon and Barns blog.

Sarava, the Biggest Long Shot in Belmont History on the Bourbon and Barns blog.




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May 30, 2017

170529-01 C and HL flowers

Charismatic and Hidden Lake will be buried in the champions’ cemetery at the front of the farm.

Yesterday afternoon was Old Friends’ annual Memorial Day celebration of the lives of the residents who passed during the last year. As the number of our residents grows, so does the wonderfulness of being on the farm, but, inevitably, so does the one hard part, the eventual loss of those we’ve come to love. There’s comfort in gathering to share our memories of them, some of them brilliant, most all of them courageous, and not a few of them real characters, the likes of whom we won’t see again.

This year we also keenly felt the absence of Bill Mooney, our official eulogist for a decade. Bill passed last January, but he left us in capable hands when he chose his successor, fellow turf writer Mary Simon. Mary recalled the accomplishments and adventures of Al the Bingel, Charismatic, Delay of Game, Duke Ora, Futural, Halo America, Hidden Lake, Judge’s Case, Karakorum Patriot, Sea Native, and Swan’s Way.

170529-03 Mary Simon

Mary reminds us of the achievements and lives of the horses who passed during the last twelve months.

Some of the people who knew these horses best kindly shared their admiring, often fondly amusing, recollections and insights, among them, Charismatic’s breeder Robin Roach, Judge’s Case’s former owners Daniel Zamborsky and Jason Phillips, Sea Native’s former owner Angela Black, several Old Friends staff and volunteers who grew close to them in their retirement, and others who loved them.

The gathering concluded with the traditional toast in Maker’s Mark or lemonaid to the great athletes, the hard-knocking claimers and the gracious sharers of our good times, who may have left us, but who will never leave our hearts.


170529-02 gathering

Duke Ora’s trainer Lorita Lindemann, who enabled Dukie’s (and Slamming’s, and other deserving horses’) retirement to Old Friends, couldn’t make it to Kentucky for the gathering, but she sent these words about the brave old campaigner:

Myself and another trainer shared a mutual owner back at Suffolk Downs. When the other trainer no longer was able to train Duke Ora due to sickness I was asked if I would take him into my stable. Dukie was a local fan favorite and one of the last foals of Lord Avie still racing. Coincidentally, I shared ownership of Slamming with the same connections! When Dukie turned 13, still racing and still a winner in his senior years, I knew he deserved a safe haven with nothing to prove, and instead of the green turf he raced so long on, to enjoy a green pasture.


170529-05 Dukie June 08

Dukie the day I first met him, June 2008 – Beth

Finally, I need to express our sadness the loss last night of another courageous campaigner, Diamond Stripes (2003, Notebook-Romantic Summer by On to Glory). He was the winner of the 2006 Pegasus Stakes (G3), 2007 Meadowlands Handicap (G2), and 2008 Etisalat Godolphin Mile (G2). He died due to complications connected with a condition described by resident veterinarian Dr. Bryan Waldridge as progressive ethmoidal hematoma, a benign but highly locally invasive sinus cancer. Throughout his illness, Diamond Stripes remained, as always, a kind and patient friend to our staff members and volunteers. We will miss our beautiful Diamond.


170529-05 Diamond Stripes

Diamond Stripes (2003-2017). Photo by Laura.


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