Monthly Archives: May 2017

May 30, 2017

170529-01 C and HL flowers

Charismatic and Hidden Lake will be buried in the champions’ cemetery at the front of the farm.

Yesterday afternoon was Old Friends’ annual Memorial Day celebration of the lives of the residents who passed during the last year. As the number of our residents grows, so does the wonderfulness of being on the farm, but, inevitably, so does the one hard part, the eventual loss of those we’ve come to love. There’s comfort in gathering to share our memories of them, some of them brilliant, most all of them courageous, and not a few of them real characters, the likes of whom we won’t see again.

This year we also keenly felt the absence of Bill Mooney, our official eulogist for a decade. Bill passed last January, but he left us in capable hands when he chose his successor, fellow turf writer Mary Simon. Mary recalled the accomplishments and adventures of Al the Bingel, Charismatic, Delay of Game, Duke Ora, Futural, Halo America, Hidden Lake, Judge’s Case, Karakorum Patriot, Sea Native, and Swan’s Way.

170529-03 Mary Simon

Mary reminds us of the achievements and lives of the horses who passed during the last twelve months.

Some of the people who knew these horses best kindly shared their admiring, often fondly amusing, recollections and insights, among them, Charismatic’s breeder Robin Roach, Judge’s Case’s former owners Daniel Zamborsky and Jason Phillips, Sea Native’s former owner Angela Black, several Old Friends staff and volunteers who grew close to them in their retirement, and others who loved them.

The gathering concluded with the traditional toast in Maker’s Mark or lemonaid to the great athletes, the hard-knocking claimers and the gracious sharers of our good times, who may have left us, but who will never leave our hearts.


170529-02 gathering

Duke Ora’s trainer Lorita Lindemann, who enabled Dukie’s (and Slamming’s, and other deserving horses’) retirement to Old Friends, couldn’t make it to Kentucky for the gathering, but she sent these words about the brave old campaigner:

Myself and another trainer shared a mutual owner back at Suffolk Downs. When the other trainer no longer was able to train Duke Ora due to sickness I was asked if I would take him into my stable. Dukie was a local fan favorite and one of the last foals of Lord Avie still racing. Coincidentally, I shared ownership of Slamming with the same connections! When Dukie turned 13, still racing and still a winner in his senior years, I knew he deserved a safe haven with nothing to prove, and instead of the green turf he raced so long on, to enjoy a green pasture.


170529-05 Dukie June 08

Dukie the day I first met him, June 2008 – Beth

Finally, I need to express our sadness the loss last night of another courageous campaigner, Diamond Stripes (2003, Notebook-Romantic Summer by On to Glory). He was the winner of the 2006 Pegasus Stakes (G3), 2007 Meadowlands Handicap (G2), and 2008 Etisalat Godolphin Mile (G2). He died due to complications connected with a condition described by resident veterinarian Dr. Bryan Waldridge as progressive ethmoidal hematoma, a benign but highly locally invasive sinus cancer. Throughout his illness, Diamond Stripes remained, as always, a kind and patient friend to our staff members and volunteers. We will miss our beautiful Diamond.


170529-05 Diamond Stripes

Diamond Stripes (2003-2017). Photo by Laura.


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May 20, 2017

170501 Swannie

Swan’s Way remembered by his best friend, Tom Beatty

There aren’t many Thoroughbreds born in the Virgin Islands – that locale barely makes the foaling list each year. Recently, only three of over 22,000 live foals reported to the Jockey Club call the Islands home. One of those rare islanders from the1989 foal crop was our very own Swan’s Way.

By the great champion sprinter Smile, Swan’s Way (called Swannie by his friends) is not the best known of Smile’s offspring; that honor probably goes to I’ll Get Along, the stakes-winning dam of Smarty Jones, the Eclipse-winning three-year-old colt who thrilled race fans in 2004 as he missed the Triple Crown by less than a length. No, Swannie is far less important in racing annals, but if they bestowed an Eclipse Award for heart and determination, Swannie would win it outright.

170520-1 Swans Way at 17

Swan’s Way at 17 years old. Photo by Tom.

In 81 lifetime starts spanning 12-plus years or racing, 52 of those contests in lower claiming company, Swan’s Way earned just over $64,000; many of our Old Friends’ retirees earned that much on their worst day of racing. Swannie’s racing career ended on August 4, 2004 at age 15 when he was eased shortly after starting a six-furlong claimer at Suffolk Downs where he had launched his racing career in 1992. Time had finally taken its toll on this old blue-collar survivor.

When I joined the Old Friends volunteer corps in early 2006, one of the first horses I met at Hurstland Farm was a feisty stallion trotting up and down the fence trying to get the attention of a couple of mares in the next paddock. He wasn’t the best looking horse on the farm, but there was something about him that caught my eye. I gave him some carrots; he snorted a couple of times, and went back to his mare-chasing routine.


Swan’s Way at 26. Photo by Laura.

Over the next few months, our visits were more frequent. He waited for his treats at the fence and allowed me to pet him; Swannie and I found a friend in each other.


Swannie on a misty summer morning, about 20 years old. Photo by Beth.

On June 30, 2006, we moved 15 horses to Dream Chase Farm. Swannie settled in to his new paddock and quickly learned the tour routine. Later that year he developed ulcers in his eyes and was confined to the barn during the days so we could treat his condition; he got his exercise at night when the sunlight wouldn’t hurt his vision. I cleaned his stall daily, so it was ready for him when he returned to the barn each morning and took a nap. I didn’t know horses could snore until I met Swannie.


Swannie (wearing fringed fly mask) races Little Silver Charm and Michael, April 2014. Photo by Laura.


Swannie in 2017. Photo by Laura.

Over the years, Swannie entertained our visitors with his good looks and pleasant personality. He loved his carrots, enjoyed our visitors, and the fact that he was a pauper among many millionaires didn’t bother him a bit.

Rest in peace, my friend.





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May 1, 2017

For now, just an update:

Due to the weather forecast for this coming Thursday
Bloodline Products announces the postponement of
the Derby Lawn Party at the Conrad-Caldwell Estate
in Louisville to benefit Old Friends.

The Lawn Party will be rescheduled at the same location.
Stay tuned for the announcement!

And, a promise. When we lose a resident, sometimes sadness overcomes my ability to put words together at first. Last week we lost two longtime, much loved, retirees. Duke Ora and Swan’s Way left us with years of happy memories. I want to share some of those with you, and I will post about each one of them soon.

170501 Duke Ora

Duke Ora (1994-2017)

170501 Swannie

Swan’s Way (1989-2017)

Meanwhile, as you enjoy the Oaks, the Derby, and our Annual Homecoming, join us in a farewell toast to these two hardworking old Suffolk Downs and Rockingham Park campaigners, who each went on to provide Old Friends with much, much more, over the years, than words will ever say.

photos by Laura

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