Monthly Archives: December 2019

December 29, 2019

Shadow Caster 1996-2019

I wish I didn’t have to follow last week’s sad post with another one just as sad, but last Friday we lost another friend who can never be replaced, Shadow Caster.

By Future Storm out of Just Dance by Duck Dance, Shadow Caster was foaled in Florida in 1996. In a modest way he was a youthful prodigy, winning two sprint stakes at two, the 1998 Anthony DeSpirito Stakes at Suffolk Downs and Morven Stakes at the Meadowlands. Racing fans anticipated what he might do as he matured. At three he took the Faneuil Hall Stakes at a mile at Suffolk Downs, but it was at four that he showed what he could really do in the 2000 Forego (G2) at Saratoga.

That Grade 2 win at one of the most prestigious tracks in the country put him forever among the elite of racing. I remember that win. Though a longshot, he was every inch the confident professional. He was much the best. He continued to race in stakes and allowance races through 2002, retiring with earnings of nearly half a million dollars.

For a few years he did stud duty in Texas. He sired some winners but none nearly good as he was. To put it bluntly, his stud career wasn’t successful. In 2009 Shadow Caster began his retirement with us. If you’ve visited our main farm you may have noticed the hill and cute barn just to our north. For awhile we rented those premises and that’s where Shadow Caster’s first paddock was.

Shadow Caster soon after arrival at Old Friends (the grey in the background is Benburb (1989-2012))

At first, what struck us was how much Shadow Caster looked like Futural. No wonder, since they had the same dad. As we got to know him, we realized Shadow Caster was even nicer than Futural, and that’s saying a lot. Over the years, Shadow Caster showed himself to be one of the sweetest, most peaceful, kindest horses we’ve ever had the privilege to know. He was exceptionally tuned into what the humans around him were feeling. When he sensed you were sad he’d hold still to be rubbed and he’d nuzzle you. He was just as good with his paddock mates, a horse that others in the herd liked to graze with and hang out with.

Life in a gelding herd is a lot like life in a fraternity house, and Shadow Caster was definitely a player in herd politics and frat parties. He and herd leader Maybesomaybenot were best buddies…Except when Bobby Sands was Maybesomaybenot’s best buddy…Except when Shadow Caster was.

Shadow Caster with his buddies, L to R: Maybesomaybenot, Bobby Sands, Areyoutalkintome, Shadow Caster. The fifth buddy, Count the Gold, isn’t in the frame.

Paddock doings: Areyoutalkintome, Maybe or Count?, Shadow Caster

On the other hand, Shadow Caster sort of liked to mess with Areyoutalkintome. One day a winter or three ago he decided he wanted to take Talkin’s blanket off.

“Gimme yer blanket!”

Velcro can be quite a puzzler if you’re a horse.

In the end, the attempt wasn’t successful. Shadow Caster gave up and munched on some hay instead.

Shadow Caster and Maybesomaybenot playing together at sunset

During his last few years Shadow Caster was given special care for back problems that caused us concern, and if you visited us during the last couple of months you may have fed him a carrot in the barn or the nearby round pen where he had his turn-out while being treated for a foot abscess. He was getting TLC for those reasons, but his colic last Friday was an unexpected shock. Honestly, his spinal issues didn’t look like he’d have had years and years, but losing him so suddenly is hard. Shadow Caster was loving, and he was much loved by all. Both the barn and Maybe’s herd look as if something is missing without Shadow Caster. And it is.

photos by Laura, the two arrival photos by Beth


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December 26, 2019

Geronimo (1999-2019)

Geronimo was fighting multiple issues. Despite our best efforts and his remarkable hardiness, he lost the battle and let us know it was time to say goodbye. Geronimo was euthanized yesterday morning.

Geronimo was foaled in Chile in 1999, a son of Gold Tribute out of Mrs. Lily by Mocito Guapo (Arg). At three he raced very successfully at Club Hipico de Santiago, and at four was imported to try his athleticism against US competition. He won at all three major West Coast tracks, including the Graded 3 Morvich Handicap (G3) at the Oak Tree meet and a win in the Green Flash Handicap at Del Mar. He earned nearly half a million dollars on the track.

Geronimo came to Old Friends in Georgetown in January 2014. He and Areyoutalkintome, who’d spent the first years of their retirements at Tranquility Farm, a California nonprofit, made the trip to us during one of the hardest winters in recent memory. Both settled in quickly and comfortably, though having lived in a warmer climate they both spent the first cold months with us wearing blankets. Except for the day he arrived, Geronimo didn’t get to show off his impressive build and golden coat that much until spring. We did immediately fall in love with his one white eyebrow, though.


During the five years we were fortunate to know Geronimo, he proved himself a kind, socially poised citizen of two different herds and, especially, a good friend to Ready’s Rocket with whom he shared a paddock as a twosome until Ready passed last March.

With his best buddy, Ready’s Rocket (2003-2019)

Geronimo was easy-going most of the time, but he wasn’t quiet. He was one of the most vocally expressive horses we’ve ever had. He responded to meal delivery, to the approach of visitors, and to the recognition of friends with a deep, rumbling bass commentary. Sometimes he made a single remark, sometimes he had quite a lot to say. He sounded like a tough stallion. I think he wished to be thought of as one. Actually, he was a big, kind-natured guy, an even-tempered gelding who had his own opinions. He was a pleasure to be around and we were honored to play a part in his life and to contribute to the pleasure he took in his retirement. We will miss Geronimo’s big, steady presence. We already do, and always will.

photos by Laura


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December 24, 2019

All of us at Old Friends in Georgetown, Kentucky wish all of you the happiest of holidays.

No white Christmas this year in the Bluegrass. The highs each day of this holiday season are more like 62 degrees, and as Afternoon Deelites demonstrates, the horses couldn’t be more pleased. Hard to believe this guy is about to turn officially 28 years old, eh?



For one thing, if you’re a horse it’s a lot more fun to roll in sun-warmed mud than on a hard, frosty ground. If you’re a human taking care of horses you might have a different opinion, but it’s hard to find a happier sight than celebrating horses.

Game On Dude

For instance, enjoying the ultimate comfort food, hay. Laura took this photo of Game On Dude a few days ago when it wasn’t quite as warm. Blankets are off all over the farm now. As I write the sun is out, shining warm on bare backs. There’s hardly enough breeze to stir a mane.

Wake Forest (L) and Brilliant Decision have dinner.

Brilliant Decision is settling into his new home, and is showing kindness and grace in all he does. A few days ago he moved into a paddock with Wake Forest. So far, the two are getting along famously. Each horse has his or her own feed tub, and usually they don’t particularly want to share, except for Archie’s Echo and Dinard, who often finish off one tub then move together to the other tub. Whether Wake Forest is actually sharing or whether Brilliant Decision is accomplishing a subtle takeover in this photo I’m not sure. Some horses like to play musical feed tubs. But there’s always another tub and plenty for all.


Here’s the newest resident at the main farm, 6 year old Persie, a son of Street Sense. Persie was named 2018 Claiming Horse of the Year by the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) for winning 10 of his 17 starts last year. Here’s the HBPA’s release about him. Old Friends thanks Persie’s racing owners, Bush Racing Stable, for enabling his retirement to us. As we’re getting to know Persie we’re finding him self-possessed, alertly intelligent and friendly.


Summer Attraction, Slamming and Disturbingthepeace

Since pictures say so much more than words, I’ll step back and let the horses have the bandwidth as they all, youngish or old, stallion, gelding or mare, bay, grey, dark brown or chestnut, wish you the most joyous of holiday seasons.

Touch Gold makes his signature entrance.


You and I prefers a more easygoing approach.


Winning Dubai


Victor Cooley


Saudi Poetry


Right to Vote




Elusive Honey




And from all of us to all of you, heartfelt wishes for a new year of peace, reconciliation and good will.

photos by Laura


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