Old Friends Day at Beulah Park
On Saturday, May 3rd, Bea Snyder and Viv Morrison returned to Beulah Park to host the final Old Friends Day honoring Appygolucky. It was the last day of operation for the historic Ohio racetrack . Although the day was bittersweet, it was heartening to see many of the familiar faces who have supported Old Friends and the legacy of Appygolucky. Over 5000 patrons turned out to wish the grande old dame a fond farewell as the lines stretched from window to apron. A constant stream of visitors to our booth included Sunshine Forever’s groom from his Darby Dan days and the kind woman who was The Name’s Jimmy’s biggest fan, as he shared the same name as her late husband. There was even a visit from Mikethespike’s former connections, who expressed gratitude to Old Friends for our efforts to secure a safe retirement for the grandson of Black Tie Affair. Thanks to a lively group of bidders at our silent auction, we raised just over $2000 to support our great retirees. The day also marked the 5th anniversary of Appygolucky’s retirement from racing and his presence was in evidence throughout the day. His former owner and jockey captured the training and riding titles and at the end of the day it was official. The scrappy bay gelding, dubbed the King of the Claimers by Michael Blowen, would remain the proud holder of the track record for a mile on the Beulah oval. Despite the hardscrabble reputation of the facility, I can’t help but think of the good people who gave the place a heart and the warhorses who ran their races there with every bit as much heart as a Grade 1 winner on the first Saturday in May. Special thanks to Holly Chandler, who kept our day at Beulah going until the end, Mary Oakley who has been faithful in her support each year, Laura Rackar who was responsible for the genesis of Appy’s retirement, Beulah Park GM Jim McKinney, and all those who donated and bid. From Beulah Park came several of our current retirees, including I’m Charismatic, Mikethespike and Ohio bred millionaire, Catlaunch. They are the lasting legacy of this now bygone era of racing in the Buckeye State.
Annual Homecoming at Dream Chase Farm
After several years of unseasonably cold, gray days with torrential downpours, Mother Nature finally decided to smile on our annual Homecoming. The skies above were a bright Kentucky blue and a steady breeze rustled the leaves above our heads. I’ve come to think of our Homecoming as a gathering of friends from near and far, a chance to meet and greet with those that support our wonderful Thoroughbred athletes. After an emotional closing day at Beulah Park, I was content to sit on a railroad tie under the shade tree, eating delicious barbecue provided by Furlong’s Catering, surrounded by a diverse collective of friends. Among the locals were returning visitors from Oregon, New York, Ohio and the Derby City itself The one thing in common that brings us all together is a love and admiration for these magnificent horses. As strains of bluegrass music wafted over the crowd, patrons toured the grounds via John’s golf cart express and placed bids on silent auctions items. We were treated to a competitive live auction with the help of Old Friends volunteers and Seattle Slew’s jockey, Jean Cruguet. Michael took to the microphone to receive a generous check from Dr. and Mrs. Allday, followed by a dedication of the Boubon Lane Stables paddock, home of Ogygian’s great-grandson, Johannesbourbon. As the guests departed, a few volunteers gathered to listen to Kirsten Norris, daughter of Ogygian’s pals Kim and Shane, detail plans for her future film projects, including a possible feature on her favorite Old Friends, as Beebee the cat rolled in the grass playfully for Kirsten’s little sister Hannah. As the sun begin to sink behind the hill paddocks, I was left with the hope that with the next generation of the Old Friends family, the welfare of our horses, and those to come, is in good hands and kind hearts. May it ever be so.
Finally, I couldn’t post without expressing our sadness at the passing of Crusader Sword at Old Friends at Cabin Creek. I count myself fortunate to have met him and feel much the poorer for not having known him better. An extraordinary horse with a big personality. For more about Cru from those who knew and loved him well, see the OF at Cabin Creek site (scroll to News), or visit Old Friends at Cabin Creek on Facebook.