We’re having a great summer here at Old Friends in Kentucky. Some short heat waves have come through, but much of June and July has been pleasantly sunny and breezy, like today. It’s a perfect time to relax with a visit to admire some of the greatest former athletes in the world.
Like Game On Dude and Little Mike. These two deservedly popular stars, now twelve years old apiece, hold court in their big paddock near the front of the farm where they greet all who come and go. Literally. From their position on both the entry and exit routes for each tour, they often come over to spend time with their fans at the beginning of the tour, then just happen to be on the other side of their paddock as those same folks head back down at the end of the tour.
“Hi, we’re Dude and Mike, have we met before?
Silver Charm, War Emblem, Alphabet Soup & Gorgeous George, Einstein, Afternoon Deelites and his son Popcorn Deelites (alias “Seabiscuit”), Little Silver Charm, and all the gang are having a great time meeting, greeting, making new friends and renewing their ties with longtime friends. We also have some new stars who, at least at the moment, are all on the main tour route. (I say “at the moment” because we’re doing some shifting of horses into different paddocks. Any visit to the farm may introduce you to an unexpected horse or reunite you with an old buddy you haven’t seen for awhile.)
New stars just settling into retirement and the role of meeters and greeters, include:
A youngster by our standards, six year old Diversify earned nearly $2 million in 16 starts, including the Saginaw Stakes at Belmont Park, the Evan Shipman Stakes at Saratoga, the prestigious Jockey Club Gold Cup, the Suburban, and the Whitney. Pretty amazing list of honors. And by the way, he also won the Commentator Stakes (wonder who that race was named for?). Diversify is a big darkish bay gelding with a profile that suggests strong character. His retirement at Old Friends was enabled by his racing owners, Lauren Evans and her father Ralph M. Evans.
Another of our wonderful new guys goes by the unassuming name of Hogy.
But a name doesn’t always say it all. Ten year old Hogy won more than $1 million in his eight year race career. Starting his stakes wins with the Brian Barenscheer Juvenile Stakes at Canterbury Park, he moved on to take the Hansel at Turfway, the Hanshin at Arlington, the Troy and Presque Isle in New York, the Colonel Power at the Fair Grounds in Louisiana, the Kentucky Downs Sprint, Frontier Utilities Turf Sprint at Sam Houston, and Canadian Turf Stakes at Gulfstream. Besides all that, he’s a sweet guy with a beautiful face who we’ve fallen in love with from his first day with us.
The newest kid on the block is Soi Phet.
Pronounced “soy fet,” his name is no new one to his big fan base in southern California, or to lots of race fans all over the country, come to that. Soi Phet, eleven year old son of Tiznow’s full brother Tizbud, isn’t a big guy like his uncle. He’s a deceptively elegant, refined looking guy. “Deceptively” because he was one sturdy warrior on the track. He just about owned the Los Alamitos racecourse. He won two runnings of the Bertrando Stakes there, the Los Alamitos Mile, two consecutive E.B. Johnston Stakes, as well as the McCann’s Mojave Handicap and Crystal Water Stakes at Santa Anita, and the Harry F. Brubaker Stakes at Del Mar. If you’re wondering if he’s also a millionaire, the answer is a resounding yes. Beloved of fans, of his race owners the Benowitz family, Mathilde Powell and Paul Viskovich, and trainer Leonard Powell, Soi Phet is settling into his Kentucky retirement with beautiful grace and poise.
So if you can, run to Old Friends to meet our wonderful new stars, all of whom can currently be seen on the regular tours.
Or, if you’d rather, schedule a private tour and visit our delightfully sweet new ladies, Saudi Poetry and Silver Charm’s daughter, Classy Charm. Their paddock is too far to get to during the time allotted for regular tours, but they love visitors too.
photos by Laura