Sunday October 11, 2009

There was no better way to spend a weekend, if you are a racing fan, than this one.  There was the Keeneland Fall Meet, a visit to Three Chimneys, another Zenyatta win , and it all ended with a great day at Old Friends.  What more could anyone ask?

After a cool and rainy start on Friday, the weekend weather slowly improved, culminating in a glorious fall Sunday with bright sunshine and blue skies.  We had family in from Pittsburgh, and yesterday we took them on a much-anticipated tour of Three Chimneys farm, where we saw Smarty Jones, Big Brown and Dynaformer.  Three Chimneys does a great tour, and our guide clearly loved his “boys.”  My sister-in-law, who teaches high school biology, was working out a genetics lesson plan using Thoroughbred horse breeding as a teaching tool.  I thought that was pretty cool. Why didn’t my high school science teacher talk horses?  I’d likely have been a much better science student!

After Three Chimneys we went to Keeneland, where my five year old niece promptly picked, and won, an exacta.  We do start our racing fans young around here.  I think the best part of having non-horsey friends and family visit is watching them learn how much fun racing can be–niece Karly jumped up and down cheering her horse in each race.  Her mom and dad had fun, too.

Back at Old Friends today, we had a very busy day.  I missed the 10 am tour, but there must have been well over a hundred people visiting today.   The horses are a riot when there are that many people—they are so good at showing off!  Awad, Pops and Ring had a thunderous race down the fenceline.  Dan and Flick did their “fighting horses” act.  Clever ran and ran and ran some more, showing off all afternoon.  With the rain this past week, Pops and Ring have their beloved mud puddle back. Once again, Ring did his best to splash us.  Even Escape got into the act, galloping around his paddock with his tail in the air.

Commentator, it turns out, is a character.  Apparently he answers to “Tator,” which seems perhaps not the most dignified of nicknames, but what can you do?  He proves once again, however, how darned smart good racehorses are. He has already figured out which of my pockets carries the mints.  He won’t even take a carrot from me.  He just drops the carrots on the ground and waits for the mints.  He is really friendly, too, and I’m afraid I have another favorite.  Well, along with Wallenda, Black Tie Affair, Kiri, Norty, Clever, Kudos, Jade Hunter, Sunshine, Dan, Awad, Proper, Gramps….and on it goes.  You see my dilemma, right?

The Wicked North is back in the barn during the daytime, as he alternates a paddock with Commentator. Norty is right next to Wallenda, and this is a problem.  Both horses set up a racket when tours come into the barn.   And if the other gets attention first, oh boy, it can get loud!  Benburb also gets in on the noise making.  At the other end of the barn, Black Tie Affair just rolls his eyes and waits his turn. And speaking of smart horses, Blackie’s new thing?  He is working the sympathy vote.  He puts his head on my shoulder and sighs, like he is so unappreciated.  And while he has health issues, he is far from pathetic!  But it sure works.  People give the “awww” and offer him the choicest, fattest carrots.  Makes me roll my eyes!

I wanted to wait around today for our latest horse to arrive, but I couldn’t.  This evening, Smokey Stover arrived from California.  Smokey is a six year old gelding who won over $500,000 in his career.  Since tomorrow is a work holiday, I’ll get a chance to meet him. I know he is a gorgeous, 17-hand, nearly black horse with white trim.  Smokey’s owner passed away last year and Smokey was looking for a post-racing home.  Like some of our other horses, his arrival in part is due to efforts made by the Friends of Barbaro.  And like all of our other horses, he’ll have a great time greeting his fans and basking in buckets of attention.

I want to end with kudos to Zenyatta:  I just love to watch her race. If you haven’t seen her, look for her in the Breeder’s Cup next month, or take a cruise around the internet and watch some of her races.  She is spectacular.

That wraps up another weekend in central Kentucky, and another Sunday with Old Friends.  Thanks for stopping by; we hope you can visit us soon!

-Val

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Sunday October 11, 2009

  1. Jean in VA.

    Thanks again Val for letting me share your Sunday at Old Friends.
    As always, give everyone a hug and an extra mint from me.

  2. Lexie

    You guys are all so blessed to be able to spend your days with these grand old guys, some champions and some just hard knockers .. what a treat! I love reading your blog and other accounts … it seems that each and everyone has such a unique personality!

  3. Linda

    Mike says thanks for his honorable mention at the end of your blog. We non-horsey Burghers always have a great time in KY. We are already looking forward to our next visit!

  4. Stacy V

    We were there for the 10AM tour. Wallenda was napping, he must have been saving his energy for later in the day, even a quiet “Hello” to him was not enough to get his attention. It was wonderful to get to see Michael too, to hear him speak about all the horses on the farm is wonderful and there is no doubt that his heart is attached to each and every one of them.

    It was definitely one of the highlights of my trip, and I don’t think it’s possible to put into words what a truly wonderful, selfless thing that’s been done.

    And to Tim, our wonderful tour guide, you, too have that same look in your eyes when talking about the horses that all racing fans do.I hope that I will get back there again next year and that I can meet up with you because your love of these horses is something that everyone visiting the farm should experience.

    • oldfriendsblog

      oh Stacy, even a LOUD hello is not enough to rouse Wallenda when he wants to nap! I’ve actually gone into his stall with a carrot and fed it to him as he was stretched out in the straw. Spoiled horse.

      Thanks to everyone for your kind words.

      Val

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