Monthly Archives: April 2020

April 29, 2020

Sarava kicks off this week’s Old Friends Blog Visit.

This week’s Old Friends Blog Visit video is dedicated to all of you who planned to come see us this spring. It’s a peek at how the favorites everyone knows, our front-of-the-farm meeters and greeters, are doing. Because I miss doing tours in person so much, I took a lot of carrots and did my best to recreate the feeling of being on a tour.

Game On Dude

Little Mike

So here’s a hello from the horses on the main route in the front of the farm. It features familiar favorites Sarava, Nicanor, Game On Dude, Little Mike, Touch Gold, Silver Charm, River Squall, Afternoon Deelites, Little Silver Charm, Popcorn Deelites and Special Ring, You and I, and Sun King.

Little Silver Charm

Sun King

Two other horses who’ve been with us for years but who aren’t always on the regular tours due to time constraints are Nobiz Like Shobiz and Smooth Air.

Smooth Air

We’ll also drop in on relatively new residents, Hogy and Soi Phet.

Soi Phet nuzzles Hogy

New guy in the neighborhood Pollard’s Vision also came over to say hello.

the handsome Pollard’s Vision

And then there’s Patch, who more or less stole the show. Watch out, Popcorn, Ring and Nicanor, once we reopen for visits you’re going to have some definite competition for the position of most lovable ham on the farm.


The video is just below, but first an apology to everyone whose particular favorites aren’t included this week. I hope next week’s video will star Alphabet Soup and Gorgeous George, Green Mask, Ide, Amazombie and Rapid Redux, Eye of the Tiger, and Stormy Liberal. Only then will our separate-but-together visit to the residents on the front of the farm be truly complete.

So, get out your virtual carrots and join me for Old Friends Blog Visit 7 with some of our most-loved residents.

photos by Laura



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April 23, 2020

200422 Einstein

Einstein is one of the horses featured in this week’s Old Friends Blog Visit video.

On a cool but sparkling green April evening I took a walk up the hill to see which of the horses felt like coming over to say hi. Anybody who did would get into this weeks Old Friends Blog Visit video, I decided.

200422 Victor

Canadian star Victor Cooley won the Queen’s Plate at Woodbine then came south and showed Belmont and Keeneland how a great sprinter runs. Victor is now 27.

Pretty much everybody did, and that’s a whole lot of horses. Einstein, Arson Squad, Fighting City Hall, Joey P., Dinard, Archie’s Echo, Elusive Honey, Miss Du Bois, Count the Gold, Maybesomaybenot, Bobby Sands, Areyoutalkintome, Victor Cooley, Seek Gold, Skip’s World, Elaborate, Deeply Undervalued, Diversify, Lady Grizzley, MissZoey Belle and Miss Hooligan. Whew!

200422 Seek Gold

Touch Gold’s son Seek Gold has lived with us longer than his dad has. He’s in the same herd as Victor Cooley, Skip’s World, Elaborate, and two who didn’t come over to be filmed, El Brujo and Mikethespike.

I should have realized being in the video would be popular since it included plenty of carrots.

200422 Miss Du Bois

Miss Du Bois

It stands to reason Miss Du Bois would want to be on camera. She and her dam, Blanche Du Bois, are named after the character played by Vivien Leigh in the movie version of A Streetcar Named Desire, and Miss Du Bois is the dam of Filmmaker.

200422 Maybe


200422 Bobby

Bobby Sands mugs for the camera

The geldings across the way were also happy to participate. This is when I noticed that Gulch’s son, Bobby Sands, was telling Maybesomaybenot to stand aside when Bobby wanted a carrot. Usually, it’s been Maybe who rules that herd. These two are still fast friends, though.

200422 Arson and City

Arson Squad and Fighting City Hall

To regular visitors it’ll be no surprise that Arson Squad and Fighting City Hall put in an appearance. Arson Squad is a horse of rare qualities. Besides having been an outstanding racehorse and one of the most handsome horses on the farm, and a real charmer, when his blind buddy I’m Charismatic was living, Arson Squad became, essentially, his seeing-eye horse, answering his neighs, letting him know where he was with touches, and showing loving patience when I’m Charismatic bumped into him. Now Arson shares a paddock with Fighting City Hall, who showed off a bit in the video.

200422 Joey and gang

Joey P. (2nd from right) and his companions

In the paddock where Persie and Right to Vote were recently featured, Joey P. decided it was time to step up. Racketeer preferred to graze in the distance. I’ll have to wait to feature him until he decides the time has come.

200422 Deeply Undervalued

Deeply Undervalued

Way up on the back 40 acres, Lady Grizzley and Miss Hooligan obliged, while MissZoey Belle was more interested in the carrot bag she spotted. The fourth member of that herd, Livin For Love, didn’t especially want to be videoed that evening, but she does appear in the background. I’ll try again later to talk her into starring in a segment of her own. In the two back-most pastures, not many of the horses were that interested in interrupting their evening doings, but Deeply Undervalued and Diversify saw this as an excellent opportunity to get all the more carrots.

200422 Diversify

Diversify, looking a little sleepy and wintery in this photo from some months ago, is getting springtime sleek now.

I wish I’d gotten more of Diversify, but he came over only at the last minute to see what Deeply Undervalued was up to. Fortunately for both, who are forming a friendship, there were still plenty of carrots for Diversify, too.

200422 SC and AS barn

Silver Charm and Alphabet Soup on the same evening.

Two who wanted to be in the video but aren’t are Silver Charm and Alphabet Soup (probably also Gorgeous George, who’s not tall enough to look out of his and Alphabet Soup’s stall door). The barn was secured for the night, and following anti-virus safety precautions I only stood at the door, took this snapshot, and promised them they’d star in future Old Friends Blog Visit videos. When the nights turn warm and the days hot, Alphabet Soup and Gorgeous George will probably be outdoors during the mild nights where they’ll be available to star in videos. Silver Charm prefers to spend his nights inside whatever the weather, but he’s promised to make some appearances. He takes his role as Leading Man at Old Friends very seriously.

So, here’s number 6 in the Old Friends Blog Visit series. Of the many who make brief appearances here and those who didn’t, I hope to focus on them all for longer visits in future videos.


photos except for barn snapshot are by Laura


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April 18, 2020

200418 Touch Gold

Touch Gold surveys his springtime domain

Spring is definitely here. The redbuds are in bloom, the dogwoods are coming into their glory, and the leaves are beginning to grow on the shade trees. In other years the Keeneland meet would be in full swing, Lexington would be playing host to visitors, and we’d be welcoming our friends, old and new, travelers and local folks, to enjoy sunny spring Saturdays like today with the horses.

Tour guides would proudly introduce Pollard’s Vision, Patch and Stormy Liberal, reunite Silver Charm and Little Silver Charm with their fans, and young horse lovers would feed treats to retired Breeders’ Cup winners and ex-claimers. Tour buses would pull in and Michael and other guides would golf cart private tours up the hill to see the mares. And, in other Aprils, we’d earn a substantial portion of the yearly cost of the horses’ care.

Last April 1,827 people toured Old Friends, plus about 500 more who arrived on large tour buses. This April the total will be 0.

200414 Area 51

Lion Hunter, Photon (above), Cherono, Saint Aloysius and Johanesbourbon. Photo by Laura.

Through social media we’ll continue doing our best to keep you connected with the horses and raise the funds to support them. To that end, Old Friends has launched a GivingTuesday Charity GoFundme. This campaign was set up to help non-profits – like Old Friends – impacted by the pandemic.

Click here to donate.

At Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement farm in Georgetown, KY, one of our key sources of income is our agri-tourism program. Our farm gates are open daily to visitors who come from all over the world to get up-close-and-personal with our rescued and retired Thoroughbred champions.  They come daily for tours that see them taking a selfie with Kentucky Derby winner Silver Charm, smooching three-time Santa Anita Handicap winner Game On Dude on the nose, and feeding some carrots to Belmont Stakes winner Touch Gold. Our tourism can raise as much as $10 – $15,000 a month in the summer season that all goes to feeding and caring for these amazing animals. And while the champs attract guests, the revenue they raise helps support the numerous horses we have that never set a hoof inside a winner’s circle or those that ended up in less-than-savory situations. 

But in March, as the Pandemic took hold of our nation, our daily tours and gift-shop sales came to a screeching halt, seriously endangering the well-being of our herd .  We’re doing everything we can to weather this terrible storm. Can you help by making a donation today? 

Charity GoFundme Old Friends No-Tours-No-Dollars-Fundraiser

And now, time for this post to morph into a gossip column. On a farm full of horses the herd politics and gossip sessions never slow down for any reason.

200418 Skips World

Skip’s World wasn’t a champion like his grandpa, Skip Away, but he did win a race once. He’s not in this week’s gossip, but he posed nicely last Thursday evening, having demolished one carrot and ready to scarf up another one. That’s Mikethespike in the background.

This week’s two hot items concern the biggest mare herd, and one of the gelding gangs, both on the back 40 acres.

200418 Lady Grizzley

Lady Grizzley didn’t do much racing and wasn’t a successful mom. Her retirement was enabled by former owner Brereton C. Jones.

200418 MissZoey Belle - LB

Miss ZoeyBelle. Fifteen now, she used to race on the Ohio circuit. Photo by Laura.

News Flash:  Lady Grizzley firms up her position as President of the Main Mare Herd. MissZoey Belle, formerly just one of several pretty faces in the crowd, steps up as Vice President. Who elected them? They did. Mares lead busy social lives, and to my mind, more complex ones than do geldings (stallions, of course, pretty much just rule their own turf, keeping up friendships, or not, over their fences).

An alpha mare has responsibilities for her companions, like keeping an eye on her neighborhood and making sure the geldings next door don’t get too fresh, as well as perks, such as getting her first choice of feed tubs at meal times and keeping her companions in line according to her own sense of propriety. Lady Grizzley has whole-heartedly taken on those responsibilities. The other mares, including Miss Hooligan, who considered the job, seem happy to let her do so. MissZoey Belle stepping out as her sidekick was a little surprising, but she’s playing her role well.

200418 Maybe Bobby Talkin

Maybesomaybenot Bobby Sands and Areyoutalkintome, taken back in colder weather by Laura. Trivia for the day: Bobby is a son of Gulch. Areyoutalkintome is Gulch’s great-grandson.

A little more startlingly, Maybesomaybenot has recently abdicated his former position as boss of his herd to his best buddy, Bobby Sands. Why this happened, I’m not sure. Maybe, an outgoing guy and real charmer of horses and humans alike, has been telling Bobby what to do up till now. It may have to do with the changes herd personnel over the last few months. First they lost their good friend Shadow Caster, who died last December. Then Areyoutalkintome took time out of the herd to get medication he needed. That done, he rejoined the gang last month.

One interesting feature of horse society is that each time a member leaves or joins the herd, the entire pecking order gets re-established, and individual relationships within the herd can change. Areyoutalkintome seems to have come back into the herd with more status than when he left it, and for whatever reason, Bobby decided to use the occasion to become boss. Maybe is handling it peacefully, but I’m not sure what he really thinks of this development. Stay tuned for further developments.



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April 14, 2020

200414 Sun King

Sun King! Here he comes! There he goes! Here he comes again!


200409 Sun King

What’s more breathtaking than a horse in motion? A few evenings ago as I walked the farm several of the residents were playing, tussling and having a good time. Though the light was iffy I managed to catch some of the action.

200414 Pops and Ring

Special Ring and Popcorn Deelites

So here’s a little bit of fun for you. Some of these horses you probably know well if you’ve been to the farm. The others live on the stretch of farm to the south of the usual tour route.

200414 Green Mask

Green Mask

200414 Starspangled Heat

Starspangled Heat

200414 DTP and Fergus

Disturbingthepeace (with blaze) and Fergus Mac Roich enjoying a mutual back scratch

I always wanted to make a trendy, hand-held, gritty TV-style action flick.

In order of appearance here’s the Area 51 herd, Tuneintobow and Saratoga Episode with Green Mask looking on, Windy Land (introduction); Little Mike and Game On Dude, Sun King, Popcorn Deelites and Special Ring, Soi Phet and Hogy, Disturbingthepeace and Fergus Mac Roich, Sun King again and Eye of the Tiger, Cherono, Lion Hunter and Saint Aloysius, Starspangled Heat, Windy Land and Kharafa, and Green Mask. And all in two minutes!

I hope to post another, longer, tour-style Old Friends Blog Visit in a few days. Meanwhile, enjoy!

photos by Laura

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April 9, 2020


200409 Right to Vote

New best friends. Right to Vote (L) and Persie.

Quiet days at the farm. The horses are resting up from the muddy winter we’ve had, and everybody’s thrilled to have fresh spring grass to graze on. The horses who have changed paddocks are settling into their new homes nicely, as are the newcomers to the farm, Patch, Stormy Liberal and Pollard’s Vision.

200409 Pollards Vision

Pollard’s Vision

Another very happy development is the friendship that is forming between Right to Vote and Persie.

Right to Vote had been through some rough times before his long-ago owner-trainer, Ron Moquett learned he was at risk and re-acquired him for a secure future. When Right to Vote came to us he needed to rebuild strength and confidence. At first, his new paddock mates bullied him a bit.

Never a good idea. When Right to Vote regained full strength he gave tit for tat to Racketeer and Joey P., taking over the leadership from Racketeer and pestering them both. He needed a buddy who wanted to play as energetically as he did. Meanwhile, in the paddock across the way, Persie’s energetic personality was a bit much for the quieter style of Slim Shadey. So, would Right to Vote and Persie have fun together, or would they fuss? Always a question with two fairly dominant personalities.

Here’s the answer.

200409 Persie

As you can see in the background of the top photo, Racketeer (L) and Joey P. have their own peaceful friendship now, with Right to Vote and Persie too happy in their companionship to pester anybody. Everybody in the paddock is pleased.

You can see more of them in the video below, a new Old Friends Blog Visit that I intended to be about horses playing at sunset. However, the horses had different ideas. Since they miss their visitors, a human on foot and not busy with farm chores raised hopes of carrots. All the horses I tried to video stopped whatever they were doing and came walking toward me–some dozen walks toward the camera followed a little display of the personality of each at close hand. As you know if you’ve visited us, that’s exactly what a tour looks like.

So, the horses invented the theme for this video — a sunset tour. Consider it a private tour to realms off the beaten track that can be covered in the time alloted to regular tours.

Besides Right to Vote and Persie, the horses featured are Wake Forest and Brilliant Decision, Interwin, Affirmed Success and Kudos, El Oh El, Awesome Gem and his companions Big Blue Nation and Ivanfallunovalot, Discreet Hero and Cappucino Kid, Soldat, Johannesburg Smile and Bourbonize. Touch Gold is the only one on the main tour route.

200409 Soldat


200409 Bourbonize


200409 Touch Gold

Touch Gold

So, if you’ve ever arrived at the farm for a tour and found out you were stuck with me as a guide, please put up with repeating that experience as I take you for a visit with some of our most wonderful and less frequently visited residents.


photos by Laura



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April 3, 2020

Spring is a time of new beginnings, and some more of our horses are moving to new paddocks. Like the three who moved last week, these horses are all still on the main farm. They’ve just switched paddocks. A few more will be doing so in the next week. I’ll post photos of those changes when they happen. For now, here’s Soldat at sunset yesterday looking around his new quarters.

200403 Soldat


Soldat is 12 years old. He won the 2011 Fountain of Youth Stakes and competed in the Kentucky Derby won by Animal Kingdom and tried a career at stud for a few years before the family of racing co-owner Harvey A. Clarke made sure of his secure future by retiring him with us. Young as he is, and not completely settled into stallion-hood, he was gelded some months ago, so we hope he’ll enjoy the company of one or more paddock mates before long.

Another who’s switched paddocks is Persie. He was with Slim Shadey. They didn’t bond as we hoped they might, and it’s important that our residents are matched with buddies they’re really happy with, so Slim will be tried with a different companion and Persie has moved across the way into the pasture with Racketeer, Joey P and Right to Vote.

200403 Persie Right to Vote

Persie and Right to Vote

Almost immediately, Persie hooked up with Right to Vote. The two are hanging out together, while Joey P and Racketeer are enjoying each other’s company.

200403 Joey P

Joey P

When three or more horses occupy the same turf it’s interesting watching how they decide to socialize. Sometimes, like when Right to Vote first moved into this paddock, the herd will exclude the new boy at first (or new girl – this dynamic isn’t much different in a mare herd). Other times, one will peel off from the original gang and befriend the newcomer, as Right to Vote has done with Persie. I guess it’s not that different from the stuff school kids do when a new kid joins the class.

Yesterday evening the weather was so beautiful and the air so bright and clear – less car exhaust may be one reason – that I tried to make some clips for a new video.

200403 El Oh El Interwin

El Oh El and Interwin enjoy the clear April evening

I had an idea that the horses would be playing, as they often do at evening, and that I’d wander the farm capturing all sorts of little sitcoms and mini-dramas I could weave into a fun video narrative.


Without the usual visitor action, no horse I started filming was fixing to ignore the possibility of treats. I must have filmed twenty horses at least. Pretty much every single one of them stopped doing whatever I was trying to film and walked over. Except for one cute moment between Johannesburg Smile and Bourbonize (no spoilers – it’ll be in the video I’ll post soon), all I got were clips of twenty horses doing pretty much identical walks toward the camera.

200403 Johannesburg Smile Bourbonize

Johannesburg Smile scratches his nose on the gate while Bourbonize looks on

But each one of them is beautiful, so instead of fighting it, I’ll make a video called “Hello,” or “A Visit with … ” Of course, they were right. I did have some carrots on me. Funny coincidence, that.

200403 Windy Land

Windy Land, son of Mixed Pleasure and descendant of Seabiscuit

200403 Kalamos

Kalamos, a son of Empire Maker and winner of the Old Friends Stakes at Kentucky Downs

These snapshots give an idea of what was going on yesterday evening. Lots of “Hello, there!” in hopes of a treat or two. In other words, the video probably won’t be that different from a sunset tour, except that we’ll visit several horses who aren’t on the main tour route.

200403 Interwin

Interwin didn’t win any races, but he was a highly successful three day eventer

… Like the handsome Aussie, Interwin. Please stay tuned for the video.

I know! I’ll call it “Sunset Visits at Old Friends” !



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