Monthly Archives: January 2019

January 3, 2019

190103 silver ray may 17

Silver Ray, May 23, 1989 – January 1, 2019

We will miss Silver Ray. No question about that. We’ll miss the peaceful sight of him grazing in his paddock. We’ll miss how excited he used to get about meal times, trotting over snorting, sometimes even bucking. We’ll especially miss his sweetness, how he’d amble over for companionship as much as a treat, how he’d let children pet him, his calm, wise face, and how he’d sometimes lay his head on visitors’ shoulders, especially young women visitors. Ray was a bit of a ladies’ man.

For us, it’s hard that our good times with him have ended. But that’s our perspective. For Silver Ray, Old Friends was a long, happy ending. True to his name, he came through some dark times to a comfortable, dignified life. He let us know how much he enjoyed the security he’d found.

Foaled May 23, 1989 in Kentucky, Silver Ray was fortunate to race for Jerry and Ann Moss. His trainers were Brian Mayberry, then John Sadler, he was ridden by some of the best jockeys of his era, and he was a very good race horse. He won a graded stakes race, the 1991 Hoist the Flag Stakes (G3) at Hollywood Park and placed in other stakes.

At six he entered stud, but while a Grade 3 winner is an exceptional racehorse, success at stud is a challenge even for Grade 1 winners. Not a lot of clients bred mares to him. He sired 47 registered foals, of whom less than half raced and only half of those won. Inevitably, he’d need another niche if he was to earn. That niche was found when he proved a good sire of sport horses.

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At what point did Ray’s journey darken? I don’t know, and I don’t know the circumstances of his arrival at a slaughter auction, but clearly he’d had hard times before that, since he arrived at the auction very thin and with his upper front teeth gone. But his luck brightened. Before he got off the truck he was purchased by April Smith, and the Polo Pony Rescue in Glendale, California gave him care that put him back on the road to health. Media coverage alerted the Mosses to his situation and they—generous supporters of Old Friends—contacted Michael about giving him a home.

Silver Ray came to us still thin, still recovering, in early fall 2013. At first he lived on a farm owned by our then-resident vet, the late Dr. Doug Byars, with a few other of our retirees. In Ray’s case, we were happy he was under the eye of a world-renowned vet and diagnostician. Gradually, Ray regained weight. When he moved to OF’s main farm he was getting rather round in the tummy, and who can blame him? He regained strength and spirit but never lost the exceptional kindness that characterized him from the first.

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In fact, giving Ray a neck scratch or watching him lower his head so a child could pat his face, I never ceased to be amazed at how much trust and love this horse showed people even though he had experienced the worst side of human nature. Silver Ray treated people not according to some of the treatment he’d received but according to the honor and beauty within himself.

So yes, we’ll always love and miss Silver Ray. But his story ended happily. He achieved on the track, survived hardship, attained the official age of 30, and lived for secure and peaceful years as a favorite on the farm, receiving and giving much love.

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Tour guide Ken Hawes said of Silver Ray’s last tour on the day before he let us know his time had come, “he did eat shredded carrots on our tour yesterday and also received much petting from the children on the tour. He was a sweety and a gentleman to the end.”

photos by Laura



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December 31, 2018

As an eventful year ends at Old Friends and a new year begins, winter deepens but so far we haven’t had much cold weather. Rainy days alternate with mostly overcast days, pleasant except for the mud. On rainy days the horses tend to snooze in their run-in sheds. On drier days…well, isn’t snoozing one of the privileges of retirement?

181231 Sun King

Sun King readies himself for a snooze.

With things so much quieter in the winter, even our younger retirees take long, peaceful naps in the relatively mild weather. Sun King, for instance, officially turns 17 as of January 1. For a Thoroughbred, that’s middle age, say, early 50s for a human.

Game On Dude and Little Mike, are the same age and were at the top of racing at the same time. They never contended with each other since the Dude ran on the dirt and Mike on the turf. Now they race each other every day. They’re turning 12 years old apiece. That’s a perfect age, not young enough for foal naps or old enough for old-folk naps, so they take cause-I-wanna naps.


181231 Dude Mike 1

Little Mike, foreground, and Game On Dude. Who’s gonna conk out first?

181231 Dude Mike 2

It’s Mike!

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Little Mike shakes off his dreams. Game On Dude gets sleepier.

181231 Dude Mike 3

Come on, pal. Up and at ’em. I feel like playing!

Meanwhile, up at the barn, the residents are …

181231 River Squall

River Squall (turning 24)

…well, looks like they’re snoozing.

181231 Eye of the Tiger

Eye of the Tiger (19 years old)

Except, of course, for those who are dedicatedly zonked out for the afternoon.

181231 Soup and GG do

Alphabet Soup (28) and Gorgeous George (still 9? he’s not a Thoroughbred.)

181231 WE never sleeps

War Emblem (turning 20 – hard to believe, isn’t it?)

And except for War Emblem, who wants us to believe he never sleeps. I promised him not to tell you any differently.

181231 BCI Dinard

Beau Cashin In (21, L) and Dinard (31)

And except for those who’d rather stay up, munch hay and share the latest gossip. Or is Beau Cashin In giving Dinard a piece of his mind? At 31, Dinard is currently our oldest Thoroughbred resident at the Georgetown farm. The oldest horse of all is, almost certainly, Little Silver Charm, but he’s never been into telling his age.

181231 Fergus DTP

Fergus MacRoich (12, L) and Disturbingthepeace (21)

Whatever your age in either equine or human reckoning, wherever you are, we at Old Friends warmly wish you the happiest, healthiest, best of new years. May we all use 2019 to strengthen our connections with those we love and to appreciate and honor the diverse and wonderful world around us.

photography by Laura


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