Monthly Archives: June 2010

Sunday June 27, 2010

I’ll tell you this, go away for the weekend and all sorts of things happen in your absence!  Change happens every time you turn around, and Old Friends is no exception.   Since Will’s Way won his biggest races at Saratoga, he is going to be holding court at Old Friends Cabin Creek in New York.  His New York fans will no doubt be happy to have him close by.  Marquetry, recently pensioned in Florida, moved back home to Kentucky and is greeting visitors at our main farm.  Marquetry sired one of my all-time favorite named racehorses:  Breeder’s Cup champion Squirtle Squirt, who was trained by Bobby Frankel.  As you know, Old Friends Cabin Creek is known as the Bobby Frankel division, in honor of the late trainer.  It all circles around, doesn’t it?

I’ll be back next week with a full report from the farm, but since I was away, it seemed like a good time for a summer photo blog.  Thanks to Rick Capone for the use of his photos.  (As always, just move your cursor over the photo for the name of the horses.)  -Val

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Sunday June 20, 2010

Taking the week off from tours, and blogging, due to a highly aggravating summertime cold.   Thanks to Tim Ford for taking over tour duties today, and we’ll be back with updates in no time!

-Val

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Sunday June 13, 2010

One word describes today: hot. We had sunshine, and thankfully we had a steady breeze, but mostly we had 90-something degree heat. The horses are lazy, the flies are buzzing and most of the visitors were happy to take it easy. No big hikes up the hill and back, just some easy meandering around the stallion paddocks.

For most of the day Clever just hung out under his big tree, happy to get some carrots and have someone to chase flies. Blackie spent the morning in Charmie’s little run-in shed, his butt to us and his eyes hidden beneath his gold fly mask with the spiffy leopard print trim. Glitterman was outside in the small round pen, alternately snoozing, watching Michael graze Silver Charm, or munching carrots.

Only three horses managed to break out of a slow walk today. We saw Flick run up his paddock, as fast as I have ever seen him move. Dan followed, but he took his time with a much slower canter. The other horse with some energy today was Leave Seattle, who slow-jogged about 25 feet over to us for his share of carrots.

The other sure sign of summer, besides the heat, is we get many more kids visiting. My little pals from last week, Sara and her brothers, came back for another visit today. They brought a lot of the little mini carrots, and the kids opened bags until my bucket was overflowing. All this happened in front of Academy Award, who watched very closely, no doubt figuring he had hit the carrot jackpot.

Sara was somewhat less mortified by the horse slobber this week, and she fed her share of carrots. At one point, I think there were four or five kids, standing on the bottom fence rail, calling for Commentator. He came right over, as he always does, and gobbled carrots from as many little hands as could reach him at once. I don’t think anyone would have pegged him as a horse that would enjoy kids, but he does.

Even Creator took carrots from the kids nicely, maybe even delicately. I told the kids they could feed him but not pat him, and they all listened perfectly. Thinking that Creator was in a mellow mood, I ignored my own advice and got too close. He arrogantly and forcefully shoved my hand aside, letting me know I was encroaching on his personal space!  Pops waited patiently for everyone to move on from Creator, and Ring eventually wandered over as well. We visited with Awad, Will’s Way, Kiri’s Clown and Sunshine Forever and finished up with Swannie. The only casualty today was (of course) one man who received a bit of a nip on his shoulder. I warn and warn the men that they are tops on the biting list, and they just never believe me!

Today’s visitors came from places as diverse as Seattle, Michigan, Indiana, Boston and the Czech Republic. We had a great mix of kids and adults, racing fans, animal people and just plain tourists. Everyone seemed to have a great time, including the horses. Wallenda was relatively calm and even he took carrots more gently than usual. It had to be the heat!

I have to finish with a couple of racing notes. I was privileged yesterday to be at Churchill Downs to see Rachel Alexandra race. She looked terrific and ran a great race. And this evening, I watched the fabulous Zenyatta win her 17th consecutive race on TV. If you are a racing fan, you know how lucky we are to see these mares run. If you are not a racing fan all I can say is, watch these horses run and you will be!

We hope you can visit us soon. In the meantime, thanks for spending this (hot) Sunday with Old Friends!

-Val

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Sunday June 6, 2010

Ahh, summer in Kentucky.  We had a 10 minute downpour this morning, followed by a brisk wind and then blue skies with bright sunshine.  The grass is green, the clover is blooming and even Jade Hunter was reluctant to come over for treats.  Not that he didn’t eventually make his way over to see us, mind you.  He just wanted us to meet him halfway!  But I am getting ahead of myself.

 Even though I took last week off from tour duties, I was not far away from the horses. We had company in from Pittsburgh, and my two nieces got their first exposure to horse racing when we went to Churchill Downs for the day. My younger niece Kayla is a photo nut and she took pictures all day with her mom’s camera.  I think the high point of the day for her was at the Churchill paddock.  In her little girl voice she yelled “good luck” to Calvin Borel, and he turned and smiled at her.  After that, she told everyone she saw that her new friend was Calvin.  Kayla’s sister Shannon was pretty happy at Old Friends the next day, seeing her canine pal Duncan and her horse Pops. 

By today, I was more than ready to get back to tour duties.  When I arrived at the farm it appeared we’d have a light day of tours, but the clearing weather brought folks out and we ended up with a full day.  This morning, we had a recent college graduate from Cornell University in New York State, along with her family. They were on an extended road trip home–to California!  Since my nephew Cam is headed to Cornell in the fall, we had a little something in common I guess.

 Now that school is out for the summer in most spots, we had a number of families with kids visit today.  As you know they are always my favorite guests.  The little girls this morning were great—they struggled to carry the bucket of carrots for me, and were just the nicest kids, feeding carrots and patting noses.  Another little girl, whose family bought her a silver horse necklace, was such a polite child, saying thank you for her necklace and thank you for her tour.   

 This afternoon, little girly-girl-Sarah-in-pink was very conflicted.  She really wanted to pat horses and feed treats, but she was mortified about how slobbery the horses are.  She must have wiped her hands on my jeans three or four times.  Every horse got a slobber rating, and believe me, most of them failed!   But Sarah and her brothers earned their farm stripes today—they helped me lead Silver Charm from the small barn back to his little paddock. You can picture it— one long red lead rope, three small kids hanging on, Charmie on the other end and Val kind of herding the whole parade!  They had a blast. (Frankly, so did I.)  And as they left, Sarah made sure I knew that the stuffed horse she got in the gift shop did not slobber!

I think I mentioned a few weeks ago how strong the emotion is for some people when they meet Academy Award.  The Secretariat connection is alive and well, and one lady today asked me if we could go back and visit him a second time. We did, and she was thrilled to get few hairs from his mane.  

After this morning’s rain, the humidity we’ve had for the past week or so cleared out, and with the breeze it seemed a lot of the horses were more active.  Commentator, Pops, Special Ring, Awad, Will’s Way, Swannie, and even Jade Hunter cantered over to see us at one point or another.   Wallace Station and Bluesthestandard pretended to be big, bad stallions, rearing up in a mock fight and then racing up the hill.  Ogygian mostly hid in his run-in shed, only coming over once and only to visit with one little girl, before he headed back under cover. When Cherono bucked and kicked across his paddock, a little boy renamed him “Speed Racer.” Gramps and Gulch came over for every tour, and Bull was happy to have his back scratched while he chomped carrots. 

That wraps up another day at the farm for me.  We hope you can visit us soon. In the meantime, thanks for spending this Sunday with Old Friends. 

-Val

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