Sometimes things just work out. A few years back, with the support of Dogwood Stable and Cot Campbell and old friend, Charlie Pigg, Old Friends was able to bring Wallenda home after his stallion career was over in Japan. The Flying Wallendas, decked out in the Dogwood silks, even came to the farm to perform their spectacular high wire act. A few months ago, Frank Alexander (Wallenda’s trainer) and his wife, Linda (who knew more about our horses than I did) visited Wallenda. All of these events led to me sitting in a bar a few nights before the Belmont Stakes with Charlie Pigg, Golden Soul’s trainer Dallas Stewart, HRTV’s Laffit Pincay III and Hall of Fame jockey and Oxbow’s rider, Gary Stevens. I was passing out the new edition of the Old Friends magazine. The bar featured cocktails named after all the Belmont entries.
A few days earlier, three of the five stakes races run at Belmont were named after our retirees, Dancin’ Renee, Affirmed Success and Commentator. Previous owners Sanford Bacon, Al Fried and Tracy and Carol Farmer all came back to Belmont to hand out the trophies for their respective horses. There were many, many racing fans that came by the Old Friends table to get a magazine and share stories of their relationships with so many of our horses. Trainer Phil Serpe, who campaigned Klassy Briefcase when she broke the world record for five furlongs on the grass, promised to donate the halter she wore on that amazing day to our permanent collection.
On the Wed. before the Belmont, we held our second event at Oheka Castle where we presented the 2013 Frankel Award to Daily Racing Form. Mandy Minger, Jeff Birch, Tom Peyser and, of course, Barbara Livingston were all present to accept the Frankel on DRF’s behalf. The award itself is a stunning bronze created by Phoenix-based artist, Fred Krakowiak named for Bobby Frankel and inspired by Frankel, the racehorse. The evening was a great tribute to everyone connected with Thoroughbred retirement but especially, 2012 Belmont winner Sarava. Owners Gary and Kitty Drake attended along with jockey Edgar Prado. Special thanks to artist Leland Neff, who attended and donated his painting of Rachel Alexandra (which was purchased by Gary Drake for $5000) and all the farms that donated halters from past Belmont Stakes winners.
On Belmont Day, while I watched the race from the grandstand at Saratoga Raceway, Palace Malice confidently strode home the victor. All the Dogwood people were there. Charlie Pigg stood proudly behind Cot Campbell during the trophy presentation. It was a great day for Palace Malice and for Charlie.
As I left the bar that night, I stopped in the hotel gift shop. It’s run by a very nice man from New Delhi. I gave him a couple of magazines. He asked me if I knew Mr. Smith, the jockey on Palace Malice. I told him we were acquaintances and Mike liked Old Friends. “I don’t know much about it,” he said. “But Mr. Smith told me I should bet all my rupees on his horse.” I don’t know whether he did or not but all the winning tickets in the world couldn’t have made our friend Charlie Pigg any happier.