Monthly Archives: June 2019

June 20, 2019

We’ve had a lot of rain this month, but on a balmy June evening a week ago as I walked the farm with my iPad I happened on this moment.

Seen through a curtain of late sunrays, Alphabet Soup decides on the perfect spot for a refreshing roll in the dust. At 28 years old the 1996 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner is a bit cautious about the smoothest way to lie down, but he sure does know how to make a jaunty exit.

If you’re a repeat reader of this blog, or a follower of Old Friends on Twitter and Facebook, or of photographer, tour guide, and worldwide race attendee Laura Battles on Facebook, you have a good idea of what the Georgetown Farm is like after the last tour leaves and the farm closes for the evening. The beautiful golden light in so many of Laura’s photos attest to how many hours she spends with the horses after-hours, with her camera at the ready. And—as the horses all know—her carrot bucket is also at the ready, especially for the residents pastured off the main tour route. Here are a few glimpses of Laura at work on a summer evening. For this session a week ago, she was joined by a second photographer, events volunteer Kurt.

Shutters click as Skip’s World (the grey), 1996 Queen’s Plate winner Victor Cooley (dark bay wearing a fly mask) and younger fellow Canadian, El Brujo, come to see what’s up. If you’re not familiar with fly masks, Skip and Victor can see perfectly well through them – they’re mesh. They just do what the name implies, keep flies out of a horse’s eyes. Some of our residents like wearing them in the summer, some prefer not to.

We especially wanted to get photos and a video clip of our two new girlfriends, Silver Charm’s very sweet daughter, multiple stakes winner Classy Charm (bay), and impressive multiple graded stakes winner Saudi Poetry (chestnut). Laura’s photos were more successful than the video, I think, and I’ll post some when available.

These two ladies will be moving to a different paddock before long. Though they won’t be on the front of the farm because the stallions behave much more nicely when there are no nearby mares to show off for, the two will be available for visits by private tours. When this clip was taken they were coexisting peacefully, as you see here. Making friends takes more time, but as of a few days ago these two have started to really make friends.

Here’s a clip for all those folks who may think the horses off the main tour route don’t get lots of lovin’, too. Laura and Kudos.

And here’s 2002 Belmont Stakes winner, Sarava. I know he’s quite familiar, very much on the beaten path of the tours, and he’s also not doing anything in particular in this video, but he’s so handsome by sunset that I just had to include him.



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June 2, 2019

Memorial Day 2019

On Monday friends and supporters gathered to remember the horses who passed over the last year. The forecasted rain did not arrive, the weather was kindly cool, and the mood was gentle and loving. Mary Simon’s eulogies reminded us of the highlights of each horse’s career and honored each as a unique, and irreplacable, individual, and Vivian Morrison shared her loving tribute to late Old Friends volunteer Bea Snyder.

Afterward, attendees’ hearts were lifted as they visited the living horses, who didn’t at all mind cheering their admirers with their majestic kindness (Silver Charm), clowning (Special Ring and Popcorn Deelites), bravado (War Emblem), youthful fun (Game On Dude and Little Mike), and venerable wisdom (Alphabet Soup, Dinard).

Among the written memories shared with us by attendees were these poignant testimonials to the love and inspiration that the unique beauty, openness and courage of a horse can inspire.


Danthebluegrassman a.k.a. Danny Boy was my favorite, since my 1st visit in 2009. He remained my favorite throughout the years & I was blessed to visit him 6 times. He never failed to leave his slobber kisses on my shirt, which I loved. He will always remain in my heart. Thank you to everyone at Old Friends for all you do.
Pattie, Pickens, South Carolina

When Joyce and I first started volunteering at OF I was attempting to do a rudimentary repair on his paddock fence. I had zero knowledge of race horses other than to handicap them. Dan came over to where I was working to my uneasyness with him in my face, MR CURIOUS! He started my love of these amazing animals as more than just an athlete running in races.
Ken, Lexington, Kentucky


Genuine Reward

My sister Doreen & I live in NYC, but we love horses!! We have been coming to Lexington for 6 years now to enjoy the farms. Doreen passed away on April 3, 2019 and I am here honoring her.
Your dam, the truly brilliant & beautiful Genuine Risk, was one of our favorite race horses of all time. When Nancy Hapgood brought us to Old Friends we cried with joy to see you!!
P. S., You are frolicking with your beautiful mother Genuine Risk—& I know you are kissing my sister Doreen right now. Enjoy the flowers I left for you. It’s hard for people to visit Lexington who don’t drive, but we always loved seeing you. RIP!
Don, New York City


Regal Sanction

I’ll never forget my first sight of Regal Sanction in 2012, standing at the top of “his” hill, next to his trees with his gorgeous mane & tail blowing in the breeze. He spied us & immediately began coming to us, thrilling me, though I’m sure he was mostly anticipating carrots! It was love at first sight & I believe he knew from that moment. I immediately went to Pinkston’s and ordered him a gorgeous stud halter, which was actually too heavy for him to wear. I brought it back & presented it to him—he knew it was his!! On subsequent visits I just spent all of my time visiting him—he would hang out next to me the whole time, let me pet him & talk to him. I believe he truly understood how much I loved him & always will. I was truly blessed to know him. I now wear a locket holding hairs from his tail & will always cherish it. He was one of the most beautiful horses I’ve ever seen & will always be in my heart. I truly hope we may have more time together on the other side.
Sue, Sun Valley, Idaho


Silver Ray

Silver Ray was the most gentle, sweet, amiable horse I’ve ever known. From our first visit here, he became our favorite. We always made sure that he would be on the tour.
Mike  and Debbi, Chilhowie, Virginia

These horses’ lives were celebrated this Memorial Day. Geri and Yankee Fortune will be honored next Memorial Day.

Main farm residents

A P Valentine
Bint Marscay
Genuine Reward
Highland Ack (Landy)
I’m Charismatic
Lusty Latin
Napoli Express
Ready’s Rocket
Regal Sanction
Silver Ray

our other locations

Black Tie Countess
Driven By Success
Say Florida Sandy

We will never forget them.

photos by Laura



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May 31, 2019

Yankee Fourtune (2007-2019)

As many of you know, we had to bid a loving goodbye to Yankee Fourtune only three days after losing Geri. Yankee’s passing was not unexpected, but as Michael said, “You always hope you can keep them a little longer.” Yankee won two graded stakes on the turf and in another finished third to future Old Friends colleague Little Mike and ahead of future retiree Nicanor. Most who visited him at the Georgetown Farm knew him as Game On Dude’s first paddock mate.

Yankee and Game On Dude grazing together in 2015

Yankee’s exceptionally sweet nature made him a perfect companion for the Dude as both settled into retirement. This picture of them grazing together shows a frequent sight. They were just as companionable when sharing admiration and treats from their visitors. All was beautifully happy between these two smart, peaceable horses.

Unfortunately, Yankee had arthritis and a time came when he could no longer keep up with the frolicking Dude loves to do. To keep Yankee from overdoing it, he was moved to another paddock with two less energetic companions, Regal Sanction and Bonapaw.

Not that it meant nobody in this new herd ever had fun.

Visitors to the farm saw less of Yankee in the last few years. That paddock was off the tour route, a little too far to take the tours and still be able to visit Popcorn Deelites & Special Ring, Touch Gold, and others on the the north side of the farm. But Yankee and his friends were near the barn and he continued to enjoy private tours as well as frequent carrot and love sessions with volunteers, and of course observation and daily hands-on care from the barn staff.

Over the years the population in that paddock changed as Bonapaw passed and Saratoga Episode moved in, then more recently, Easy Grades, who benefits from a less rambunctious herd than formerly, moved in after Regal Sanction passed last year. That was Yankee’s last “family,” he, Easy Grades and Saratoga Episode. Yankee was always liked by every one of his companions.

Yankee Fourtune with Saratoga Episode in the background

Though there was no cure for Yankee’s arthritic ankle, it caught up with him only gradually. He had years when for the most part when he felt great.

If only we could have held back time’s inevitable changes! Carole and Antonio, who gave Yankee special care, came pretty close to doing that. Thanks to their tireless watchfulness and adjustments to Yankee’s regimen, he continued to live the good life for years, enjoyed his feed, his grass and hay, and the companionship of horses whose kindness suited his own gentleness and whose quiet lifestyle matched his own. But his condition gradually caught up with him. Things got harder for him despite all that could be done. Last Tuesday he let us know it was time.

How much he’s missed by Easy Grades and Saratoga Episode is evident in how close together they’re now grazing, seeming to take comfort in each other. We all miss Yankee Fourtune. He was one of the sweetest, kindest residents we ever had.

photos by Laura


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