It was a busy weekend for sure, with the Kentucky Oaks on Friday, the Derby on Saturday and Old Friends Homecoming yesterday. Thankfully, we had what might have been the first completely nice weekend here in some time. With the exception of a quick shower early on Derby afternoon, it was dry, sunny and not too warm. It was perfect weather for outdoor activities.
I attended my first-ever Kentucky Derby this weekend and as you can imagine, it was quite an experience. Of course, we chose the year that set an all-time attendance record! Let me tell you, 164,000 people are a LOT of bodies! We had a great time, though. When all those people sing “My Old Kentucky Home,” even if you aren’t a Kentuckian you can’t help being swept up.
We always seem to find an “Old Friends” connection at the races, and this weekend was no exception. The Oaks was won by the Bob Baffert-trained Plum Pretty. Kent Desormeaux rode a nice winner on Saturday and Get Stormy (Kiri’s grandson) won wire-to-wire the same day. And of course, trainer Graham Motion, who has been a friend to Old Friends as well, won the Derby with Animal Kingdom. It was a darn good weekend at the races.
After a long Derby day at Churchill Downs, on Sunday morning I headed over to Old Friends for my first tour in what seemed like forever. We had nice-sized group at 10 am, with some returning visitors and some first-timers. It was just warm enough that everyone seemed kind of lazy—even Commentator ambled over rather than run. Being Derby weekend, I especially liked visiting our Derby horses. Bull in the Heather and Wallenda ran in the 1993 event, and Danthebluegrassman was entered in 2002 but scratched. Dan had an exceptionally fun weekend, as he was an honored guest at the Governor’s Derby breakfast here in Frankfort Saturday morning. I heard that Dan happily greeted every child, and probably lost some hair on his face from all the pats he received.
I probably say this every year but whenever I go to the Derby Museum, which I did on Saturday, there is just something about seeing Bull’s and Wallenda’s names on the wall under the 1993 Derby. They were among the top three year olds of their year, and that is pretty special.
Yesterday afternoon was spent preparing for the Homecoming celebration. The paddocks looked lush and green; the big barn was set up for the silent auction. When Tommy Walters showed up with his Furlong’s mobile BBQ and you got the first whiff of smoke, the day just got better! There was live music and I heard a number of people remark that the silent auction was the best ever. We had halters from Lane’s End, Darley, Three Chimneys, Ashford and of course Old Friends. We had Mo-Neighs. We had jewelry, pottery, books, posters, original artwork and prints, and horse hats. There truly was something for every race fan and horse lover. There was some spirited bidding too, over some of the jewelry, the horseshoes and especially the halters. And once again, I was shut out of a Point Given halter! Sigh. Someday.
Of course, the best part of the day was seeing the friends we’ve made over the years, and making some new friends as well. I was sorry to see that I wasn’t the only person who lost out on some item they truly wanted, but like me, there’s always next year! The other high point of my day was taking Wallenda’s other biggest fan over to see the big horse. Wallenda even behaved–he barely tried to nip!
I had a couple of requests to mention specific horses more often in the blog, so I’ll start with the Leave Seattle request. Tour guide and farm friend Nick told me this weekend his summer project is to turn Leave Seattle into a teddy bear. Ok, so maybe he didn’t put it quite like that, but since Nick regularly shares a beer with Bull, I figure it’s only a matter of time before Bull, Leave and Nick can be found down the road at a local watering hole. Little Silver Charm, who I hear has a history of bar hopping, will probably be joining them.
With that little bit of silliness, (and a couple weeks off to visit family) I am glad to be back in my blogging routine. I want to thank everyone who came out to the Homecoming yesterday. I see how much these old horses mean to people; it is sign of people’s heart and kindness that we receive so much support. We continue to offer tours daily—contact the office at 502-863-1775 for a reservation. We hope to see you soon, but in the meantime, thanks for everything you do to help support Old Friends!