I’m happy to report that this week at OF has been busy and good. We anticipate expanding our paddock space on the leased land beside the farm. Meanwhile, we’re already enjoying an improvement that should make tours even more fun. The path to the back of the farm has been newly graded. The smooth going not only makes chores easier, it opens better visitor access to Eclipse Award winner Hidden Lake, multiple G1 victor Affirmed Success, Secretariat’s son Tinners Way, hard-knocking veteran Mike the Spike, and all the other wonderful horses living on the back of the farm. As yet we haven’t replaced the golf cart, but we soon will. Keep your eyes open for that news.
Some of our residents have switched paddocks. The one I’ll probably always think of as Sunshine Forever’s is being much appreciated by everybody’s longtime buddy Swan’s Way. Swannie loves tours, attention, and his favorite volunteer Tom. Now he’s back where he’s got more of them all. Little Silver Charm has somehow managed to supersize his paddock, or actually, temporarily trade with The Name’s Jimmy whose arthritis makes a stall and turnout in a small paddock safer for him in this slick-ground weather. Bull Inthe Heather has moved into the paddock that was Swan’s Way’s, which we hope will suit his feet and legs just right, and with the way to the back smoothed he’s still well within reach of his admirers. Or is that the other way around? Bull’s old paddock is now home to…but that would be getting ahead of myself.
Because the big news, and what’s kept Michael, Tim and us volunteers scurrying, is the arrival of no less than 6 new residents in the last few weeks, 3 of them just yesterday.
Old Friends is proud to welcome two of the stakes winning-est geldings we’ve ever had, one at each end of the racing spectrum. 9 year old Rail Trip set a track record winning the 2009 Hollywood Gold Cup (G1). This star from California also won the Californian S (G2), Mervyn Leroy (G2) and San Diego H (G2) and finished 2nd in the 2012 BC Dirt Mile. He arrived yesterday thanks to his trainer Ron Ellis and his owner Samantha Siegel and is settling in nicely. Last week saw the arrival of another multiple stakes winner who deserves enormous respect. Ohio bred Catlaunch started 107 times and won over $1 million. Right through the age of 12 he stacked up a list of Ohio stakes wins as tall as he is (and Catlaunch is very tall). He won the Babst/Palacios Memorial H and Gendelman Memorial H 4 times each, the George Lewis Memorial S 3 times and the Rowland Memorial no less than 6 times! He’s all heart and he’s sweet, too. He likes to lick faces and ears.
Geronimo and Areyoutalkintome accompanied Rail Trip from California. Geronimo, a 15 year old gelding, was a Chilean stakes winner who became a graded stakes winner in the US (the 2005 Morvich (G3), Kent Desormeaux up). A sprinter with a late running style, he won nearly half a million. Areyoutalkintome, a 13 year old gelding, may be new on the farm, but he’s family. He’s a great-grandson of Gulch. He’s also a G3 winner (2005 el Conejo S). He preferred to be the speed in his races—where, by the way, he competed against Bluesthestandard and Bonfante.
Finally, my favorite two so far. Maybesomaybenot is so nice he’s a favorite with everyone already. He won the prestigious Sanford S for juveniles at Saratoga in 2010 racing as a homebred for the Scisney family. Maybe’s dad, Sunday Break, is in my opinion one of the best horses ever bred in Japan. Maybe is currently making friends with his new paddock buddy, Bobby Sands. They’re the ones now in what was formerly Bull Inthe Heather’s paddock. I hope I’ll be forgiven for saying the most about Johannesbourbon. Though he’s the only one of the 6 who never won a stakes race. And though at 5, he’s the baby on the farm. He even owes me $6. That’s what I bet on him in the 2012 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland where he dueled valiantly for the lead all the way around, prevailed, but tired in the last strides and was overtaken by the mob. Well, probably others who remember that race would describe the stretch run differently, but this horse was running in only his second lifetime start in a graded stakes against seasoned horses gunning for the Derby, and he came close to winning. I’d have admired that even if he hadn’t been the spit image of his sire Johannesburg. Even if his rich mahogany bay color hadn’t really been closer to his great-grandpa Ogygian’s. Johannesbourbon placed in his next stakes, but developed bad knees. His owners, Bourbon Lane Stables, did the right thing and retired him, but later he fell into less ethical hands and this horse who should no longer race at all was running every 10 days for $2,500. His story could have been a tragedy, unnoticed as are too many of its kind. I extend my heartfelt gratitude and admiration to Bourbon Lane partner Mike McMahon for buying back Johannesbourbon and donating him to OF. If I had my way it’s the owners who do something this right who’d get the Eclipse Awards.
I hope all who get a chance will come to the farm soon, meet the newcomers, and visit your old favorites. Young, middle aged and old, every one of them reminds us every day what it is to honor largeness of spirit, to open up to new relationships and experiences and to value each day with them.