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.