Kentucky Derby week is here, the Rolex Three-Day Event just ended, and Old Friends is rockin’! In spring, people head to the Blue Grass for the premier experiences in American racing and eventing, it’s all about the horses, and we’re thrilled that so many visitors include Old Friends in their travel schedules. Besides the regular daily farm tours at 10:00, 1:00 and 3:00, big buses are bringing large groups of very nice people to meet our equine retirees. It’s all hands on deck for Michael and us volunteer tour guides. The horses oblige readily—more carrots! It’s a pleasure to introduce them to first-time visitors and we hope they will return. It’s also a happy time of reunions with our human “old friends” who’ve been with us for the long run.
On the subject of reunions, don’t forget that our Kentucky and New York farms invite you to our parties this week! On Derby Day, Saturday, May 4th, the Third Annual Kentucky Derby Party hosted by Old Friends at Cabin Creek will be at the National Museum of Racing in Saratoga, 4:00-8:00 pm. If you’re nearer to Kentucky, join us on Dream Chase Farm in Georgetown on Sunday, May 5 at 3:00 for the Ninth (wow!) Annual Homecoming. Depending on which party, enjoy our memorabilia auctions, contests and guest stars. Both fundraisers offer good food and a cash bar, of course. See our web sites (links in the sidebar) for details. Come support us and have a fantastic time!
Last Saturday we were lucky. The sky threatened rain, but it never happened. The horses enjoyed a busy day with lots of attention and treats. Some tours covered the main part of the farm, seeing Sunshine Forever, Kiri’s Clown, Prized, Patton, You And I, The Name’s Jimmy, Popcorn Deelites & Special Ring, and Creator. Other groups trekked up toward the back where they were welcomed by Commentator, Star Plus, Tinners Way, Williamstown, and Swan’s Way. Especially pleased were the horses whose paddocks are on both routes, Gulch, Sarava, Afternoon Deelites Mixed Pleasure, Little Silver Charm, Clever Allemont, Ogygian, Bull Inthe Heather, I’m Charismatic & Arson Squad, and Danthebluegrassman & Flick. The mares and geldings in the back 40 acres, too—Hidden Lake, Delay of Game, Futural, Affirmed Success and all—had a busy day of admiration and fun.
My favorite event this Saturday was I’m Charismatic’s visit with Mary and Jason Matthews who enabled his retirement to Old Friends and have remained his most loyal supporters and pals. Tinners Way also enjoyed spending time with some of his most devoted admirers. Tinner has put on some good weight and looks more than ever like his great sire, Secretariat.
Or maybe my favorite moment was when 30 year old Ogygian showed off for a tour and raced with them along the fence, favoring us with a glimpse of that rambunctious spirit and power that made him an incomparable race horse in 1985 and 1986. Our two oldest residents, Ogygian and 31 year old Clever Allemont are both doing beautifully. Clever and his neighbor Mixed Pleasure (28 himself) have a friendly rivalry going for love and attention during tours. These two have become buddies. Stallions are too territorial to share a paddock, but they do form bonds with other stallions in neighboring paddocks. Some of our strongest bonds between stallions over the years have been between Creator and the great Ruhlmann (1985-2008), and the lifelong rivalry/friendship between Awad (1990-2011) and Kiri’s Clown. Clever Allemont and Mixed Pleasure have developed a comfortable, playfully competitive friendship of their own. Ogygian, on the other hand, is rather condescending when it comes to his neighbors, preferring to form his deepest bonds with a few people of his choosing. It is one of the greatest good fortunes, and the greatest honor, in my life that he has let me into his.
Speaking of Ogygian, I should mention that as usual he has a descendant slated to run in the Kentucky Derby. Frac Daddy (conditioned by Ken McPeek, once Sarava’s trainer) is Ogygian’s great-great-grandson, Frac Daddy’s sire Scat Daddy being a son of juvenile super-champion Johannesburg whose dam Myth is Ogygian’s daughter. Polish Navy (1984-2011) is also represented, Falling Sky’s damsire being Sea Hero (son of Polish Navy and Derby winner of 1993). Old Friends is represented in the Oaks on Friday, too. Seaneen Girl’s damsire is Afternoon Deelites, and finally, though not a direct descendant, Will’s Way can be proud of Oaks starter Midnight Lucky. Willie’s dam, Willamae, was a true “blue hen,” a mom of a number of good competitors. Remember Willa On The Move under Chris McCarron in the 1988 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland? Another half-sibling of Will’s Way was Citidancer, who was damsire to Midnight Lucky…hmm, that makes her Willie’s (half-)great-niece, eh?
So here’s to a safe and exciting Oaks and Derby, and a good race for these talented youngsters who carry on our Old Friends retirees’ proud legacies.
Some photos from this weekend by Laura Battles