Sunday January 30, 2011

Sometimes, in the middle of what is turning out to be a long, cold winter, Mother Nature rewards us for our perseverence with a day like today.  It was beautiful, the bright sunshine and milder temperatures (in the 40s) making for a day where you didn’t need gloves, ear muffs, or even a heavy jacket.  Days like today are my favorite, a brief break from winter’s grasp and a great time to be a tour guide with hardly any tours! Wandering around the farm on a day like today is pretty terrific.

A morning like this is made for horse napping, and at one point I looked over the paddocks to see Fortunate Prospect, Kiri’s Clown, Free Spirits Joy, The Wicked North and Delay of Game all stretched out in the sunshine.  Marquetry was standing in the corner of his paddock next to Sunshine Forever, and while they were standing up, they were snoozing as well. 

This afternoon, when we had a small tour headed out, Spirit was still down for the count, as were Awad and Kiri.  All three got up when the carrot bucket headed their way.   Spirit and Kiri came awake pretty quickly, but Awad took a few moments to fully awaken.  He stretched and kind of yawned and finally, finally meandered over for his carrots.  We thought he obviously needed his morning coffee.

All the horses were kind of lazy and mellow today.  Pops and Ring came over at a trot but it was hardly an energetic effort.  Leave Seattle strolled over and Creator did the same.  Creator is showing some signs of his age. He gets a little stiff if he stands in one spot for too long and it takes him a few steps to limber up.  Not that it makes his attitude any different; he wasn’t getting carrots quickly enough and he threatened a nip at our visitor.  Although I suppose there was a time when Creator wouldn’t have stopped at just threatening, so maybe it is different.

Among our visitors today was Laura Battle, who takes so many of the photos I post on this blog.  She wanted to go to the annex farm to take pictures, so our little group piled into our cars and headed next door.  Now, to an ex-racehorse the only thing nearly as enticing as a carrot bucket is someone with a camera pointed in their direction.  All the geldings in the big field, among them Dupars, Hussonfirst, Sgt Bert, and Thornfield lined up at the fence for photos.  They crunched carrots, begged mints and posed beautifully for Laura.  Across the drive Seek Gold, Sea Native, Judge’s Case, Marshall Rooster, Dinard, Mark of Success and Early Pioneer stood at their respective fences and waited their turn. Even the two mares—Buzzovertomyhouse and Klassy Briefcase—eventually came over to see what the fuss was all about. Of course, we had to walk most of the way to the end of their fence while they walked maybe 5 feet over to us.  You know, the mares are not nearly the easy treat hounds the boys are. They make us work for it.

A couple of times today, mares at the farm across the road were running, neighing and generally making a ruckus. It was funny to see the stallions throw their heads up and prick their ears at the fuss.  Marquetry, and Creator didn’t miss a trick, and even the geldings—Dan, Flick, Pops and Ring—were enthralled.  They were nothing more than frat boys hoping for an invite to the party!

Later this afternoon, Laura and I went back out with one of our regular visitors.  As the day wound down, we spent some time with Falcon Scott, Gulch, Ogygian and Commentator.  As we leaned on Ogie’s fence, we talked about being racing fans, and how much fun it is when we get to spend time with our favorites. We all agreed we are really appreciative whenever we have that opportunity, whether at the track, at a breeding farm, at Old Friends or even in a virtual way online.  This is part of what makes Old Friends so great.  Yes, we provide a good home for so many wonderful horses. But we also offer a wonderful place for fans to come and meet their favorites, up close and nose to nose. You can scratch a neck, give a kiss and get slobbered on by an animal you watched race when you were a kid, or more recently perhaps on TVG or HRN.  When we saw Gulch win his Breeder’s Cup race, or Awad set his record in the Arlington Million, whoever thought one day we could give Gulch a mint from our pocket or watch Awad stretch after a nice nap in the morning sun? 

Today reminded us that spring will be here before you know it, no doubt after a few more snow storms and some more freezing weather!  We continue to offer tours every day. You can make a reservation by calling Old Friends at 502-863-1775. We hope to see you soon, but in the meantime thanks for spending this Sunday with Old Friends.  (And yes, I’m hoping Laura will share some of today’s photos with us at some point!)




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16 responses to “Sunday January 30, 2011

  1. angela black

    Val, I look forward to your post every Sunday evening. You always make me feel as if I were there with you. I can always envision it in my mind. But I must say I love it when you mention the annex farm. I find myself starting to read super fast so that I can hurry up and get to the part about Sea Native! Then I go back and read it again so I can soak it all up. Thanks for sharing with us! I sure do appreciate it! ~Angela

  2. Pam

    I, too, look forward to Sunday evenings and your wonderful blogs, Val, thank you for taking us on your tours. I can feel the sunshine on my face, hear the crunching of footsteps and carrots, and smell the delicious aroma of HORSE. (Nothing like burying ones face in a warm neck.) I can’t wait to come to Kentucky to visit Old Friends. I look forward to seeing ALL of the horses, but I’ve wanted to meet Commentator for the longest time.

    • oldfriendsblog

      I’m sure Tator would love to meet you. He got more than a few mints from me today, and then gave me a large sticky kiss. He is a trip. (BTW, I love your email addy!)

  3. Laura

    … then there was that unexpected kiss I got from Malibu Mix while I was taking a photo of the rest of the herd. That was a bit surprising when his nose bumped up against my face 🙂 Val — Michael said Tour d’cat (I know I didn’t spell that right) as possibly the other bay in the big field at the annex…?

    • oldfriendsblog

      Comments on your comments:
      -Yep Laura, Tour of the Cat is correct. And unexpected kisses are often the best kisses.
      -Blue is still in the barn but doing better. He isn’t all that happy about being inside, either.
      -Commentator is outside and back to his usual rambunctious self.
      -Yes, Viv, spring cannot get here fast enough for me. Keeneland tickets go on sale tomorrow!
      -Susan, look for an email from me.
      -Always happy to take a run over to the annex for a tour, since Wallenda is there.

  4. Your blog made me wish for Spring in Kentucky. No more beautiful a place on earth. Thanks, Val. Hope to see some more photos from Laura soon!

  5. Susan

    Hi Val,
    I thought about you guys all day yesterday and wishing I was there! Just wondering if Commentator is ok (and Bluesthestandard too!) from the ankle issue??? Been worried about that dude. And, when I was there in November I took ALOT of pictures and they turned out sooo good….would love for you to have them but I’m not sure how/where to send? Also, I’ve never been to the annex famr and was wondering how to get to go on that tour?? (I think the answer is come on a Sunday when YOU are there??!) Have thought about you lots since you lost your Jake…have experienced that kind of loss too many times myself…..I hope you andMarley are both doing ok!
    Thanks again for sharing your time with the horses!!

    • Colmel

      I’m with you! I’d love to take a tour of the annex as well! I’d actually take two tours (or as many as I can) so that I could see everybody! I didn’t even know Dinard was there. I was at his Santa Anita Derby, wearing Paulson colors, praying for his win! What a race that was. Wonderful memories of a time that seems like only yesterday.

      • oldfriendsblog

        maybe blog readers need to have a “Blog Gathering” (a blogghering?) this spring or summer and take an entire afternoon to visit everyone on the main farm and the annex….Someone work on that, will ya? We could probably make it something pretty cool. -Val

      • Laura

        I kind of forgot Dinard was there, too. I remember visiting him at the Horse Park many years ago and have photos from that time somewhere at home… He’s still a lovely horse.

  6. Colmel

    If you build it, they will come (and I’ll be one of “them!”)

    • oldfriendsblog

      how far in advance does everyone want to plan something like this? Spring, summer, fall? I’m game for it! -Val

      • angela black

        me too val! just let me know! right now, i am hoping to make it early spring!

      • Colmel

        Hi, Val!
        I’m flexible! It’s about a 6-hour drive (give or take) and I have friends in the area. I’d, ideally, like it to be a time that my dear, old friend, Perfect Drift, is hanging out at the Derby Museum. That way, I could make a big circle over to Louisville and back up to Michigan. However, whenever the group finds to be the most convenient, I’ll be there (God willing).

        • oldfriendsblog

          How does sometime in May sound to everyone? Churchill Downs is running, the weather is fabulous and green…could be good! -Val

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