Sunday April 5, 2009 Part One

The Weekend, Part One.

What a jam-packed, busy and eventful weekend it has been.  It started on Thursday with a day at the farm and an evening with comedian Frank Santorelli at O’Neills Irish Pub in Lexington.  Then, Friday was the opening day of the Keeneland spring meet.  More on Keeneland later; first I want to go back to Thursday.

If you are a horse person, a racing fan, or just someone who appreciates a beautiful morning you really should try to go watch racehorses train some spring morning in Kentucky.  On Thursday, I went over to the Thoroughbred Center in Lexington to watch morning works.  It was a gorgeous day– cool but not cold, sunny and bright. The birds were singing and horse after horse galloped by.  Some of them are working hard, some just jogging, some alone and some in tandem with a workmate.  You hear their hoofbeats, their snorts and their breathing as they run past.  Occasionally one will buck or kick, and all of them are full to bursting with life.    It’s just beautiful to watch—interludes of peace punctuated by flashes of intense activity.  I highly recommend it, if you are ever in Kentucky.

After the morning at the track, I headed back over to Old Friends.   It was a busy day at the farm.   We had a delivery of 5 or 6 boxes of racing trophies and memorabilia from the owners of Bonapaw—every racing trophy he won as well as a scrapbook they kept of everywhere Bonapaw took them.  The trophies are amazing and the scrapbook is stuffed full of memories.  What a journey that horse led them on!   Eventually, we’ll have a racing museum of our own to showcase them, but for now they are adorning the office.  Check them out if you come to the farm.

I took some time to enjoy the farm on Thursday, which means I wandered around and visited horses.  I didn’t have treats with me, which actually makes for some different interactions with the horses.  With no food to distract them, the boys enjoy being patted and fussed over.  I brushed Wallenda and The Wicked North, and then wandered down to see Williamstown, Pops, Ring and Kiri.   Williamstown strolled over for a visit and let me pat his nose for a bit.  Pops looks ridiculous.  His coat is a mixture of short, sleek dark brown summer hair and patches of long, light winter hair. I hate to say it but he looks….moldy!   He does this every year—it’s just the way he sheds.  But you sure wouldn’t call it pretty. 

Kiri’s Clown is usually a nice horse to visit, but he’s even friendlier when you don’t have a bucket of carrots.  He loves to be rubbed and scratched, and he knows exactly how to get what he wants. All I had to do was stick my hand over the fence and he just moved whatever part he wanted scratched to my hand.  His face, his neck and his withers—he twists and turns to get what he wants.  His butt?  He just shows me his behind so I could scratch above his tail.  But his favorite might have been his chest—I rubbed out handfuls of winter hair, much to Kiri’s delight.  He finished with a good face rub on my arm and he was a happy horse.  Unfortunately, all that rubbing on Kiri didn’t set too well with Sunshine, who snorted and fussed over the smell of another stallion.  So Sunshine fixed that by rubbing his face all over my arm.  Now, Kiri is big and strong enough to push me around some.   But Sunshine is huge and stronger still.  I pretty much have to hang onto the fence when he decides to rub on me.  

After a great day outdoors with the horses, we headed over to Lexington for the “Bada Bing in the Bluegrass” event at O’Neills.  Comedian Frank Santorellli, who played the bartender on the Sopranos TV show, did a great, very funny comedy act.  Lexington radio’s morning DJ Jason Bailey (from 92.9 The Bear) was also there to introduce Frank.   

And if that wasn’t enough celebrity, jockey Kent Desormeaux was a special guest.  After visiting Old Friends this past week, Kent was gracious enough to join us for the fundraising event.  (In case you didn’t know, Kent Desormeaux rode Big Brown to win last year’s Kentucky Derby.)  He visited with everyone on Thursday evening, signing autographs and posing for photos.  He told me he thought Old Friends was an amazing place, and we truly appreciate his support.   For me, it was a pretty big thrill to meet him.  I think it’s great when someone whose accomplishments you admire turns out to be a nice guy.  Between Jason, Frank and Kent, you couldn’t ask for friendlier, more down-to-earth, nice guys.

Since it was so busy this weekend, I am splitting this week’s blog into two parts.  Part Two will follow later tonight.  -Val

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