Monthly Archives: March 2016

March 11, 2016

Arson leads IC

Arson Squad, front, leads the way for I’m Charismatic.

Continuing the theme of some of the best friends at Old Friends, another pair known to many of our supporters and visitors are Arson Squad and I’m Charismatic, whose bond has endured and strengthened through some life-changing developments. The two bay geldings could hardly have been more different on the track, Arson Squad a well-known millionaire multiple graded stakes winner, I’m Charismatic, though a son of Derby and Preakness winner Charismatic, a modest claimer who by the end of his career was struggling in the bottom-most ranks with an ankle issue that should have sidelined him long before a fan enabled his retirement. Arson Squad was as lucky as he was talented: his owner was Samantha Siegel of Jay Em Ess Stable. He was going strong when a workout-related accident cut his career short. Thanks to Samantha, Arson received the treatment for a comfortable retirement and normal pasture life, and a place at Old Friends.

Both geldings having survived serious issues in the right front ankle, they were perfectly matched paddock mates. As younger horses do, they’d enjoy playing but neither would push the other beyond what he should do. And so it proved. They hit it off so well that when Arson Squad made a guest appearance one Saturday morning in the Keeneland paddock, I’m Charismatic trotted around and called for him until he returned that afternoon.

Tougher times were in store for I’m Charismatic, though. He succumbed to an incurable infection that gradually blinded him. Though repeatedly tested and treated by our expert resident vets, the late Dr. Doug Byars, and Dr. Bryan Waldridge, both among the leading equine vets worldwide, I’m Charismatic’s sight could not be saved. He’s otherwise a healthy, active horse. He’s also smart and a great adapter to everything life has brought to him. I’m Charismatic already knew his paddock and paddock mate well. If we can help it we’ll never change his environment  or his companion.

Arson and IC

Left: Arson Squad, right: I’m Charismatic.

Since then, Arson Squad has retrained himself for a new career. In many ways he has taken on the role of his buddy’s Seeing Eye horse. I’m Charismatic has learned new things, too. He was already an expert meeter and greeter on tours and still is. Formerly not much of a cuddler, he’s now learned to enjoy being rubbed and scratched, a new way to communicate with the people he can no longer see. More than that, when he was sighted the leader in that paddock was I’m Charismatic. In herds, even herds of two, horses always have a pecking order. Nowadays, the leader in that paddock is…you guessed it…I’m Charismatic. He may not walk in front, but horse leaders usually don’t anyway. He still tells Arson what to do. Arson, being the peaceful soul that he is, gracefully plays his supporting role and remains a patient and kind friend to his best buddy.

I'm Charismatic has a rest on the warm hay pile. Arson rarely goes far away.

I’m Charismatic has a rest on the warm hay pile. Arson rarely goes far away.


Photos by Laura

I was going to post about several other pairs, but this has turned into a long account, so coming soon will be Victor Cooley & El Brujo, Rapid Redux & Amazombie, our newest twosome Futural and Yankee Fourtune, plus an interesting triangle with Maybesomaybenot living up to his name.


Filed under Uncategorized

March 10, 2016

I should have included…


Swan’s Way, too, is enjoying the warmer weather and the larger numbers of visitors who are taking advantage of the milder temperatures to admire his hard-knocking past and relaxed retirement. Swanny has been with us “since Hurstland.” That is, since Old Friends was located at Alfred Nuckols, Jr.’s’ beautiful Hurstland Farm in Midway. Old Friends’ main location moved to Georgetown in June 2006.


Filed under Uncategorized

March 3, 2016

After some beautiful early spring days – blop! – snow fell today. The ground is white and winter seems forever. To cheer away the wintery glums, I’m going to interrupt the theme of buddies to share some recent photos, most of them taken within the last few days, of some horses many have come to know and love over the years. How are Riva Way, Kudos, and other long-time favorites of many, doing?

War Emblem

War Emblem enjoys last Sunday’s warm weather

First, a few photos of a horse who’s new to Old Friends but who’s being reunited with many admirers since he came to live with us a few months ago, 2002 Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem. He’s 17 now, a ruggedly handsome, nearly black horse with an individualist attitude.

War Emblem and Michael

War Emblem and Michael – time for carrots!

War Emblem has settled into his home and is getting to know us. He likes to be on top of everything that happens and keeps an eagle eye out on everything in his world. We’re under no illusions. In War Emblem’s world we exist to serve War Emblem. Well, did we win the Derby?

Tinners Way

Julie grooms Tinners Way

Ahh, yes…how’s this for service? Tinner’s Way gets a nice grooming from volunteer Julie Witt. Besides her affiliation with Old Friends, Julie is part of the University of Kentucky’s Horse Racing Club, a student group who will be visiting Old Friends in April.

Affirmed Success

Affirmed Success

Over the years many visitors have gotten to know one of Affirmed’s best sons, $2 million plus winner and red hot miler from 1997 through 2003, Affirmed Success. He’s now 22 years old. He, Kudos and Northern Stone share the paddock across the way from Tinner’s.



As for Kudos, the G1 winner, donated by Jerry and Ann Moss in our early days, one of Old Friends’ “founding stars,” he’s doing great. He’s a social horse who finds good companionship whoever he’s with. He and Affirmed Success are great friends, and Northern Stone likes living with them, a smaller, less competitive circle where he gets to be a star, too.

Riva Way

Riva Way

Speaking of really long time residents, here’s a photo Laura took a few days ago of Riva Way. As some may remember, Riva has lived with us far longer than his dad, Tinners Way. His grandpas are two Meadow Farm horses a few people might have heard of, Secretariat and Riva Ridge. Riva Way is now 18 years old.

Falcon Scott

Falcon Scott

And speaking of the kin of Derby winners, some may remember when Falcon Scott, half brother to Giacomo, lived in the paddock that’s now Sarava’s. As you can see from the background, Falcon currently lives in one of our most spacious pastures among a thriving herd of youngish geldings like himself. As can be seen, he’s as kind, curious and attention-loving as ever. He seems to enjoy life with his gang of good buddies. Being herd animals, many horses feel the most secure that way.

Fabulous Strike and Commentator

Fabulous Strike and Commentator

…Like these two. Once Fabulous Strike (L) and Commentator (R) held off all challengers to occupy the lonely glory of the winner’s circle. These two have been there, enjoyed that, and now appreciate just hanging out with each other and English-bred Marshall Rooster.

Hidden Lake plays in her waterer

Hidden Lake plays in her waterer

On the theme of enjoyment, Older Female Eclipse Award champion Hidden Lake was quite busy Saturday.

Hidden Lake plays waterer 2

While Ogygian’s grandson Cherono played on dry land.

Cherono plays

Cherono plays


Finally, I’d like to introduce a new friend, Old Friends’ most recent arrival and youngest resident, Saint Aloysius.

Saint Aloysius

Saint Aloysius

When three-year-old Saint Aloysius’ attempt at a career on the track didn’t work out due to a bowed tendon, his racing owner, New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson, generously enabled his retirement to Old Friends. Welcome, you cute guy!


photos by Laura


Filed under Uncategorized

February 29, 2016

“OLD FRIENDS” expresses the way many fans feel about the magnificent former contenders retired at our farms, whether or not the horse is very old. But there’s another aspect to the “FRIENDS” part, too, and it’s wonderful. It’s the bonds the horses form among themselves. We have several twosomes, and a few threesomes, of special pals at the Georgetown farm that I’d like to devote a few posts to celebrating.

Popcorn Deelites and Special Ring are the longest running and best known pair of buddies at Old Friends.


For all too brief a time, Seabiscuit actor Popcorn enjoyed the friendship of Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Fraise, one of the most impressive athletes, and one of the most lovable horses, ever to live at OF. After Fraise passed in 2005, Popcorn adjusted to a paddock mate who was  more…shall we say, in-your-face? And so, the famous rivalry began, Pops and Special Ring each striving to outdo the other for attention and treats.


For several years, multiple Grade I winner though he is, Ringy had to take a back seat to the movie star with most visitors, but in the summer of the Equestrian Games, 2010, with tours ramped up to at least four a day, Ring made a breakthrough. It might not have been as amazing a feat as the competitors were doing over at the Horse Park, but Ring did very well out of it.

Ring and Pops apr 28 2013

Ring shows his i.d. Pops won’t show his (if he did, we’d know he’s not really Seabiscuit).

He invented his lip flip schtick! Who would have thought a mere lift of the lip, just a flash of an identification tattoo, would upstage a movie star, train an endless stream of admirers to offer a carrot on cue, and make a chubby retired gelding one of the most photographed horses in the state of Kentucky?

Popcorn Deelites and Special Ring have been best buds for over a decade. They’re inseparable. Ring may steal his buddy’s treats occasionally, but he is absolutely protective of Popcorn, and Pops seems to love that security.


EG and U 4

A less well known pair of pals, because they live at the very back of the farm where most tours don’t go (it’s a long hike), are Easy Grades and Ukiah. Easy Grades, now 17 years old, competed in the 2002 Kentucky Derby – War Emblem’s Derby. He raced on through the years, still working hard long after the limelight was just a memory, while advancing age and athletic aches gradually caught up with him. In November 2008 he finished fourth in a $5000 claiming race at Churchill Downs, where he had once paraded to “My Old Kentucky Home.” It didn’t seem right. When trainer David Vance was contacted by Old Friends, he graciously helped facilitate Easy’s retirement to the good life he had amply earned.

EG and U

Easy Grades joined a herd on the Georgetown farm and got along with all its members, but he never had a best buddy till he met Ukiah. A few years younger, Ukiah was lucky to start out with the best of connections, owners Jerry & Ann Moss, trainer John Shirreffs and jockey Mike Smith, but he changed hands over the years, running on after his competitive days were over. When they learned of his situation, the Mosses financed Ukiah’s retirement to Old Friends. That Ukiah had never run in the Derby didn’t matter a bit to Easy. What began as love at first sight has endured through changes in the population of their herd and in location. Wherever they are, Easy and Ukiah are happy being there together.

EG and U 3

EG and U2

This post ends with a less obvious kind of friendship, but one that can be a deep bond. Stallions are too territorial to share a paddock. Each needs to rule his own bit of turf. They don’t rest their heads on one another’s backs or indulge in mutual scratches, but stallions do hang out together, race each other up and down their fences, and engage in what look almost like silent gossip sessions, seeming for all the world like codgers trading tales on a courthouse bench. The bond Awad and Kiri’s Clown shared was especially wonderful. They were rivals who loved dissing each other like the French razzing the English from the battlements in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. But they were inseparable, each on his own side of the fence but rarely far from each other. If one went to the barn the other would call or run his fence line until his chum returned.

Kiri and Awad 07-12-12


Geri and AS

The growing friendship between Geri and newcomer Alphabet Soup is less dramatic. They peacefully enjoy each other’s company. And after all, they have lots in common. Both raced in the mid-90’s, won Grade I victories, they even competed at the same meets at times, though not against each other. Though Geri didn’t quite equal Alphabet Soup’s win in the 1996 Breeder’s Cup Classic, he did finish second in the 1997 Breeders’ Cup Mile. Who knows, maybe they do have a lot to talk over. Maybe they’re discussing who’s likely to win this year’s Kentucky Derby. Wouldn’t you like to listen in? I would.

all photos by Laura except Kiri and Awad in 2012 by Beth


Filed under Uncategorized