January 20, 2014

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.

Rail Trip. Photo by Laura Battles.

Rail Trip. Photo by Laura Battles.

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.

Catlaunch. Photo by Laura Battles.

Catlaunch. Photo by Laura Battles.

Geronimo and Michael. Photo by Laura Battles.

Geronimo and Michael. Photo by Laura Battles.

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.

Areyoutalkintome. Photo by Laura Battles.

Areyoutalkintome. Photo by Laura Battles.

Maybesomaybenot (front) and Bobby Sands. Photo by Laura Battles.

Maybesomaybenot (front) and Bobby Sands. Photo by Laura Battles.

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.

Johannesbourbon. Photo by Laura Battles.

Johannesbourbon. Photo by Laura Battles.

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.

– Beth



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14 responses to “January 20, 2014

  1. SusanA

    Hi Beth, I knew the “HAPPY” would come soon, and I’m so glad. I also knew before I read very far that when you asked forgiveness about talking too much about Johannesbourbon that “Ogygian” was going to come in there somehow!!! I’m so thankful that this guy has a “forever” home! Thanks to Laura for all the pictures….I’m just getting so anxious for spring to come…it’s time to make my reservations and head that way! Please forgive me, but I have to tell you that I just can’t wait to see Rail Trip…it has really nothing to do with how much $ he made, but I’ve been pulling for him for so long…he just always tried and even when he ran against the younger, big guns towards the end of his career…i was still yelling for Rail Trip! Can’t wait to see all the new guys on the block…but I’ll never stop being grateful to gaze on AD, Gulch, Ogygian, Swannie, Clever, Prize, Creator, Tator,,,,etc….and of course LSC!!!
    Thanks for making my week!

  2. colmel

    Great, GREAT news! I just published my “Old Friends” Blog yesterday (www.colmel.wordpress.com) including a very funny photo of a very young Gulch. I have lots more to come in the next post or two. Now, I’ll have to make another visit so I can get to know your new arrivals. Such fun!

    • oldfriendsblog

      Thank you for the link to your great blog entry about OF. I feel like I’ve been on a virtual visit to the farm! Your insights on the horses during their former careers and in retirement are much appreciated. So is your timely reminder that we couldn’t do what we do without the donations, large or modest, of generous people. The new TAA grant makes the future brighter for TB retirement organizations like OF, but it’s designated to help out with direct horse care only. For the rest of our direct horse care as well as most of our farm maintenance expenses we rely completely on donations. Gulch, I’m Charismatic, and of course the dynamic duo Pops and Ring, are key fundraisers on our staff. And they do it all for mere carrots! OF’s residents aren’t just lucky to be here, they’re extremely fortunate that so many people care.

    • Jason

      I am glad you enjoyed your visit with I’m Charismatic. If you would like to interact with him, you can friend him on Facebook.

  3. tbdancer

    What a wonderful blog entry about all these wonderful horses. Age and win record are just part of what makes the residents of Old Friends so deserving of their retirement. One of these days I’ll venture from California to visit OF and pay my respects (and dole out trests) to these fine retirees.

  4. wwwoldfriendsblog

    Another great entry, Beth. Thanks so much for introducing everyone to our newest Old Friends.

  5. Jen

    It is so nice to meet all of the new Friends! I’m glad they’re already endearing themselves to folks. Saw that Rail Trip was heading to you in the latest Blood-Horse, and that definitely made me smile. Can’t wait to visit again, it has been too long!

  6. Gae

    It was fun reading about the new arrivals. So how tall is Catlauncher? Forego was a big horse — is Catlauncher in that territory? He sounds like a charmer. Hope we have a chance to see him this Spring.

    • oldfriendsblog

      A good person to ask is Laura. She and Forego were pretty close when he was at the Horse Park and she was a volunteer there. Good question for her, I’ll pass it along to her. – Beth

      • oldfriendsblog

        Since I have not tried to brush Catlaunch, I am not sure. I know how high I had to reach Forego’s back J He was 17.1 hands tall, so was a big boy… Laura

  7. Thank you for this happy news, Beth, the arrival of new Old Friends to love, share and learn about must be such a welcome new chapter for everyone there. THANK you for your details and your insight when you share about these horses. It is MUCH appreciated for those of us who are at a distance, making us feel all the closer for your stories. Welcome to ALL! 🙂

  8. colmel

    Reblogged this on Colmel's Blog and commented:
    Some terrific news for my friends at Old Friends!

  9. Angela

    I love how you slipped that in there about Areyoutalkintome 🙂 I’ll be sure to tell Blues & Bonfonte their friend now has a beautiful home. It was great meeting the newbies on Sunday and wonderful catching up with you. I’m in LOVE with Catlaunch …. he is a big sweetheart and so beautiful. I’m sure he’ll be a tour favorite in no time with that personality.

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