It’s been awhile—again–since I wrote a blog, and there is a lot to catch up on at the farm. I will try to cover what I can!
As you might know, we lost one of our mares this past month. Buzzovertomyhouse was probably not familiar to the majority of our visitors, as she never lived at the main farm. She has always been an annex horse, content to live a quiet life and hang out with her friend Klassy Briefcase. Visitors often ask me about the relatively few mares at the farm, compared to the boys, and why they are less visible to tours. The mares are funny—I think they are not as easily bribed with treats as the boys, and mostly could care less about visitors. We will miss Buzzy, but in truth, her retirement suited her perfectly. All she asked for was green grass, her good friend Klassy, and freedom to enjoy her simple life. She was a lucky horse!
On the other hand, we have gotten a number of new horses over the past few weeks. The most recent arrived yesterday—2002 Belmont Stakes winner Sarava walked off the Sallee horse van about 8:30 in the morning. Sarava is the first winner of a Triple Crown race to retire to Old Friends and we are thrilled. Sarava beat some very good horses in that Belmont, including Derby and Preakness winner War Emblem and millionaire Medaglia D’Oro.
You know, it’s really interesting to see the horses when they arrive at the farm. Each one is so different, and their initial behavior often seems to exactly mirror their personalities as we get to know them. For example, when The Wicked North arrived a few years ago, he strolled off the van, strolled out into his paddock, and within 20 minutes was at the fence greeting a tour and enjoying the carrot bucket. He probably settled in faster than any horse I have ever seen. The night Clever Allemont arrived, he was clearly tired, but he walked into his stall, calmly buried his nose in a pile of hay and began eating. He was sensible then, and he is sensible now. When Commentator arrived he raced Bull inthe Heather along the fenceline until they were both tired. Afternoon Deelites strutted off the trailer last year with his neck arched, letting everyone know He Had Arrived. AD was arrogant then, and has not changed one little bit!
So when the door opened on the trailer for Sarava yesterday, I was interested to see how he would act. Sarava walked calmly off the trailer, looked around, and walked calmly over to his paddock. When Mundo let him go, he trotted back and forth for a bit, nothing too fast. He then wandered right over to Sunshine Forever in the neighboring paddock, where I am certain he said something like, “Hi. I’m Sarava. Who are you? So what’s the scoop on this place?” After that, I think a new set of pals were made, because when I stopped back at the farm later in the day the two stallions still seemed to be deep in conversation.
Once Sarava existed the van, Marquetry loaded on for a short ride over to the Secretariat Festival in Paris. I wrote about this festival last year; I enjoyed myself so much I was more than happy to repeat as the Old Friends human representative this time around. It was fun again this year, and really, how often can you say that something is just as good the second time around? I find it hard to describe the Secretariat Festival because it kind of defies description. It’s small and quaint—the Bourbon County Fairgrounds are what you imagine a small county fairground would look like—60 years ago. Everything is sparkling clean and freshly painted, but there are no high-tech buildings or fancy food stands. Kids wander with their parents and grandparents. Burgers, fries and colas are the food of choice. Horses of different breeds are housed for the day in open air, slat-sided stalls. Sleek, fancy little show Shetlands pulling carts stand next to big, gorgeous Fresians in sparkly show saddles, across from stout appaloosa and paint ponies wearing tie-dyed leg wraps. It is a terrific place to spend a day.
Our farm groom Mundo had Marq’s coat gleaming, and many people commented on how great Marq looked. Marq was a good choice for this kind of event, because no horse enjoys being the center of attention more than he does! The stall we were assigned was right behind the show ring grandstand, where an announcer on a loud speaker narrated the various breeds at they put on their exhibitions. This was somewhat difficult for Marq to handle. It’s not that he was unnerved or upset by the commotion. Oh no. Marq was antsy because he wanted his turn on the spotlight, and he wanted it NOW! When his turn came, he strutted into the ring with a loud neigh, making sure everyone knew MARQUETRY WAS ENTERING THE RING! He pranced, he danced, he arched his neck and the sun gleamed off his coat like a new copper penny. Twenty years ago, I suspect Marquetry strutted onto the racetrack in exactly the same way. Yesterday, he didn’t win a race but the applause followed him just the same. (Are you thinking I am somewhat biased here? Nah. He was just that fabulous!) And once his turn in the spotlight was over, Marq calmly returned to his borrowed stall to greet visitors and munch on his hay. You can’t tell me they don’t know what they are doing…
The great part of the Secretariat Festival is the number of people, from all over, who come to be a part of the Secretariat legend. Penny Chenery and Ron Turcotte were in attendance, which is terrific. Everyone is happy and cheerful when they come over to talk with us–they are genuinely thrilled to be a part of the day. It’sjust impossible not to absorb and respond to that feeling yourself. One woman told me she loved horses but was too afraid of them to get close to one. We fixed that—a couple of peppermints, an introduction to Marq and half an hour later, the woman was still patting him.
Since many people knew our original intent was to bring Rapid Redux to the festival, we had a lot of questions about why we substituted Marq. But Rapid is still adjusting to life on the farm. We figured putting him on a van, taking him to an event with loudspeakers, other horses, and lots of people…well, he’d think he was headed back to the track and get all worked up. And believe me, it doesn’t take much to get Rapid worked up: I merely drove past his paddock yesterday morning and he figured that was a sufficient excuse to rear, buck and kick a bit. You know, in case I was someone he needed to impress!!!
The other horses at the farm are all doing quite well. The grass is amazingly green for late September and the weather is cooling off nicely. Seventy degrees and partly sunny is some nice horse weather! Keeneland’s October meet begins next weekend, so we’ll be busy for the next month before things quiet down as fall winds its way into winter. We continue to offer tours every day—call the office at 502-863-1775 for a reservation.
We hope you can visit us soon, but in the meantime, thanks for spending this Sunday with Old Friends!