Monthly Archives: March 2019

March 28, 2019

Readys Rocket 04 LB

Ready’s Rocket 2003-2019

Ready’s Rocket was barely fifteen hands tall, scarcely bigger than a pony, but he was one of the most courageous horses ever to live at Old Friends. He won the most races at Churchill Downs of any horse in that track’s long history—eleven of them. He also won at Keeneland, Turfway, Ellis Park and Delta Downs.

Ready’s Rocket and his jockey, Calvin Borel, were well-paired, two dauntless warriors that when they were on their game, nothing and nobody could stop. Ready didn’t give Calvin much chance for the signature “Bo-rail” dash up the inside rail for a last moment win. Ready’s Rocket wanted to be in front all the time. He raced as fast and furiously as the Wildcats play basketball. Calvin understood and let him do what he did most happily and best—sprint to the front and out-brave all comers.

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When the gritty little gelding’s race career was done, owner-trainer Tim Glyshaw, along with co-owners Deann Baer and Margaret Woodside, enabled his retirement with us. We found he was aptly named. Sometimes we called him Ready, sometimes the Rocket. He was scrappy, gutsy, determined to show the world that little though he was, he wasn’t stepping down for anyone. He earned respect from his paddock mates. You could tell that’s how he’d decided it would be from foal-hood on.

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Perhaps surprisingly, Ready’s Rocket settled into retired life with evident contentment. He liked to spend some of his time apart from his paddock mates, but he always fit into the herd, definitely one of the gang. He spent his last years with one particular friend, Geronimo. The little dark brown Kentuckian and big chestnut Chilean were comfortable companions in a paddock up near the tree line.

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Ready’s Rocket and Geronimo

But words are just words. Let the Rocket himself show you why the steward’s official description of one of his Churchill races was that he won “on own courage.”

Here is Ready’s Rocket’s record 11th win at Churchill Downs, May 1, 2012.

Here’s another, on July 2, 2009.

See what it was like to ride Ready’s Rocket. Calvin Borel wore a jockey cam for a work, Nov 1, 2011

At Churchill Downs and at Old Friends we’ll always miss you, our Rocket Man, our valiant soul.

Beth
photos by Laura

Readys Rocket 02 LB

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March 20, 2019

190230 Dan1

Danthebluegrassman (1999-2019)

Danthebluegrassman. Our big, lovable lug. It’s hard to imagine Old Friends without him. For more than a decade Dan graced (if that’s the word) the Georgetown farm with his robustness, his distinctive golden good looks, and his forward personality. He would have been 20 years old this March 31.

On the Kentucky Derby trail in his youth, Dan won the Gold Rush Stakes at two and Golden Gate Derby (G3) at three, both these career bests under jockey and future Old Friends colleague, Joe Steiner. He competed against Old Friends retirees-to-be Lusty Latin (1999-2018) and Easy Grades. He also won the Northern Dancer Stakes at Churchill Downs.

190320 Dan and Michael

Dan and Michael get to know each other, early spring 2008

Dan’s race career continued through the age of 9, finally for a claiming tag of $7,500, before retirement to Old Friends in the spring of 2008. During his career he’d earned $423,794.

190320 Dan May 3 2008

Dan settles in at the farm, May 2008

Dan’s accomplishments didn’t end with retirement. He was celebrated in “The Ballad of Danthebluegrassman,” by the Gallatin County Youth Bluegrass Band, who performed the song at our May 2008 Homecoming, an event honoring Dan. The following year he took over mentoring a newer retiree, Flick (1992-2016), a grand old gelding who’d excelled on the turf for nearly ten years and wasn’t so sure what to make of the quiet of retirement. Paddock mate Dan showed him the art of goofing off. Under Dan’s guidance, Flick took to relaxation beautifully and they remained fast friends.

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Dan and Flick

Dan spent his last years with Fighting City Hall, eventually along with Arson Squad. When Dan began experiencing discomfort, he had not only the best of care from Dr. Waldridge and the staff, Arson Squad also did all a horse could do for his buddy’s wellbeing.

190320 Dan FCH and Arson

Dan, Fighting City Hall (center), and Arson Squad, January 2019.

190320 Dan and Arson

Danthebluegrassman and Arson Squad.

Danthebluegrassman had a reputation on the farm as an extrovert, a bit of a goof, and a confident, playful guy. He nipped a few people over the years, but in good humor. Danny had the gift of connecting with people. He’d look you in the eye and let you know what he wanted. Through all his years with us he was a constant and companionable friend.

Dan was big, and his presence was bigger. He was a character, one of a kind, and without him we are less than we were.

190320 Dan

Beth
photos 1, 5, 6, 7 – Laura
photos 2, 3, 4 – Beth

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March 11, 2019

Einstein!

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What a huge day it’s been at Old Friends! Today a much beloved star of racing came to live with us. Einstein, 5-time Grade 1 winner, G 1 & 2 victor on all three surfaces, won the 2009 Santa Anita Handicap (G1), 2008 & 2009 Woodford Reserve (G1), 2006 & 2008 Gulfstream Park Turf Stakes (G1), 2008 Clark Handicap (G2), and 2007 Mervin H. Muniz, Jr. Memorial (G2). Besides that, he ran close seconds in the 2009 Pacific Classic (G1), 2008 Maker’s Mark Mile (G1) and 2008 Firecracker Stakes (G2), and also beat all but one (Curlin) in the Stephen Foster Stakes (G1). What a phenomenal resume!

Trained by Helen Pitts, Einstein impressed his fans with his formidable combination of athletic power and tactical intelligence in race after race from ages 4 through 7. He earned nearly $3 million and he beat several of our other most talented residents in the process. He finished his career in the ownership of  Stronach Stables, did stud duty at Adena Springs in Kentucky and Ontario, then Daehling Ranch in California. Now that his breeding career is done, we’re hugely thrilled and honored to be his new home. Many thanks from all at Old Friends to Frank Stronach for enabling Einstein’s retirement to Old Friends and his continued generosity on Einstein’s, Alphabet Soup’s, and Touch Gold’s behalf.

Einstein’s arrival went smoothly, facilitated by Donald Wells, Farm Manager at Adena Springs, who stayed to watch him settle safely in, share information with Michael and our barn staff, and to visit with Alphabet Soup and look in on Touch Gold (who made it clear that napping was, at the moment, more important that mere humans). As for Einstein, by then he’d already showed his approval of his stall by rolling in it and was snacking contentedly on hay.

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Einstein takes ownership of his stall and hay

Having approved of his stall, he turned his attention to us, greeting each of us with lively interest and friendliness.

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Einstein arrives 100311 08

As you can see from the sign on his stall, he’s in the three week quarantine that is the required routine for all new arrivals. When the quarantine is over, he will participate in the tours like his fellow residents. So all you Einstein fans, mark your calendars. For the ultimate Einstein experience, make plans to visit with him from April on.

Einstein was so cool, calm and collected that it was clear he was ready to enjoy the early spring sunshine in the round pen adjoining his stall. He walked out with confidence and made himself at home, quietly sniffing things, taking in the sights, sounds and smells, and impressing us with his beauty and self-possession.

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Einstein arrives 100311 12

Well, I mean really, should we have been surprised that Einstein is really smart?

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How incredibly lucky and honored we are to have this great athlete and star in our care!

Beth
(words and snapshots)

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