Monthly Archives: July 2020

July 30, 2020

The past few weeks have been hotter than the horses would like. Horses’ favorite temperatures range in the forties and fifties. But they’ve been taking this sultry weather sensibly. They’re hanging out in the shade, enjoying the good, clear water in the waterers the barn staff keep clean for them, and they’re not running around too much or engaging too strenuously in herd politics. It’s a lazy, laid-back time for them.

Touch Gold

When I took my iPad to the farm last Tuesday evening I didn’t capture any makings for a thrilling, action-packed film, that’s for sure. And I didn’t want to. The muggy weather didn’t make me feel too strenuous, either.

Alphabet Soup and Gorgeous George

But with the help of 28 horses and one donkey I hope I’ve captured the mood of a typical lazy summer evening at Old Friends. The horses featured are Touch Gold, Alphabet Soup, Game On Dude, Little Mike, Affirmed Success, Amazombie, Rapid Redux, Fabulous Strike, Comma to the Top, Kudos, Little Silver Charm, Kharafa, Easy Grades, Johannesburg Smile, Wake Forest, Brilliant Decision, Hussonfirst, Sokitumi Samurai, Marshall Rooster, Fantastic Day, Elusive Honey, Northern Stone, Interwin, El Oh El, Windy Land, and He Loves Me Not. And of course, where Alphabet Soup goes, there goes Gorgeous George.

Affirmed Success (R) and Kudos

The vibrant blue sky, cumulous clouds and occasional shafts of sunlight breaking through showed off the burnished colors in the horses’ coats. Those who lighten up in summer (some horses do this more than others) are all at their summer-blondest. If you think of Brilliant Decision as a black horse, wait till you see him in these clips.

Easy Grades

Easy Grades has moved from the paddock he shared with Saratoga Episode and Tuneintobow, to the paddock near the top of the hill, joining Northern Stone. Both are nice middle-aged guys, polite and socially ept. Already they’re a companionable pair.

Fabulous Strike

So, if you’re feeling you’ve had enough challenge and excitement for one day, join me for a stroll among a bunch of relaxed ex-racehorses for a few back scratches and lots of close-ups of horses still chewing they carrots they’ve just gotten. Pour some iced tea and enjoy the peaceful feeling of summer among horses who’ve worked hard, seen something of the wide world, and are now secure and well cared for.

It’s thanks to your continuing support that they’re so happy.


And guess what! As I post this, it’s getting cooler and starting to rain!

photos by Laura


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July 27, 2020

Yoshimiparis Photographie, a reader of this blog, kindly posted a comment with a link to ABC coverage of Dinard’s win in the 1991 Santa Anita Derby. Not only is it fabulous to see Dinard at three winning this prestigious race over Best Pal, the broadcast includes some great off-track footage of the young, handsome Dinard. It’s too good to leave buried in the comments, so I’m re-posting the link here. Thank you, Yoshimi!

By the way, you can check out Yoshimi’s photographs of subjects from horseracing, to the eerie streets of Paris during lockdown, to peacocks, here.

one of the last photos
of Dinard, by Laura


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July 20, 2020

Dinard (April 6, 1988 – July 16, 2020)

Dinard’s passing last Thursday has left us all sad. He lived a long, full life, achieved much, and was always loved and cared for. The onset of his old age was gradual and as aging goes, pretty gentle, and he negotiated the changes with grace. His was a life well-lived. In all of those things he was deservedly fortunate. Our sadness is for ourselves. We loved having him in our lives and we will miss him.

A full tribute to Dinard will be posted in a few days. For now, here is a link to a video tribute I made to him, “Remembering Dinard.”

photo, and video photos, by Laura


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July 15, 2020

It’s nearly three and a half years since Charismatic passed. At first, the few video clips I took with the old camera I had then seemed remnants too shabby and fragmentary of the short, but joyful, time we had with him. He arrived at Old Friends on Saturday night, December 3, 2016. His trailer was late, the night was cold, but nobody got tired of waiting for him or went home. At last he arrived, a tall, solidly made, magnificent stallion, self-possessed, but with a hint of fire.

We began what we hoped would be a long, happy time with the 1999 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner. All three of our Derby winners have known they were special, and he was no exception. He was intelligent, kind and cooperative, but also a bit imperious. He was sensible and businesslike, and now that it was time to retire, he began learning, or else remembering, how to be playful.

His sudden passing before dawn on Sunday, February 19, 2017 broke our hearts. I don’t say that lightly. For instance, I didn’t have to look up the dates and days of the week of his arrival and passing. Every word of Michael’s phone call early that Sunday morning is burned into my memory. But so is Charismatic’s big presence, golden brilliance, his joy in the oodles of carrots he got whenever he wanted them, and a little game he and I played with the first pre-spring shoots of tender, green grass. He left us all with many good memories.

For a long time I didn’t look at the few, overexposed home movie clips I had of him. They didn’t add up to much. At least Laura’s gorgeous, vivid photos did give some idea of his presence, even though in the winter weather he was wearing a blanket in nearly all of them.

Only now, coming across those video clips again, have a realized that poor quality and fragmentary as they are, they add up to a document worth sharing – especially edited together with some of Laura’s wonderful photos of him.

So here it is, the kluged-together collection of all the video I ever took of Charismatic while he was at Old Friends.


photos by Laura

For those seeking more information about his passing, here’s an interview in the Paulick Report with the veterinarians who cared for him, Dr. Bryan Waldridge and Dr. Rhodes Bell, clarifying the circumstances of his unexpected passing.

Veterinarian: Only ‘Divine Intervention’ Could Have Saved Charismatic


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July 8, 2020

Here’s Old Friends Blog Visit 16, Midsummer Moments. Share a beautiful, lazy summer evening with some very special residents. Little Silver Charm demonstrates that greatness is all a matter of perspective, Alphabet Soup eats dinner, Dinard enjoys a peaceful evening, Touch Gold comes charging up to say hello (surprise, surprise), Lubash learns that iPads aren’t monsters, and Green Mask models the very latest in summer hats.

Here are some gorgeous photos Laura took of the horses featured in this week’s video.

Little Silver Charm

Alphabet Soup and Gorgeous George – his ears, anyway

our great grandpa, 32 year old Dinard (background) and Northern Stone

Touch Gold


Green Mask

So, kick back and enjoy a break with the horses.

photos by Laura

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July 1, 2020


Old Friends welcomes Poshsky! Meet the 10 year old veteran of many years of racing and winner of a graded stakes in this week’s Old Friends Blog Visit video below.

Poshsky arrived at Old Friends just a week after his final race at Delaware Park. As you’ll see in the video he’s still in racing trim. He’s handling his transition with calm, bright-eyed poise and sweetness. Poshsky is a California bred by Vronsky out of Pinky’s Posh (Bold Badgett). And as it happens, he’s Ruhlmann’s great-grandson. As many of you remember well, Ruhlmann was one of Old Friends’ original residents. In his own way he was as tough as War Emblem was, but he had his ways of showing affection and we adored him. Poshsky is smallish like his great-grandpa, but (like Cool n Collective at Cabin Creek) is a medium bay with a far more easy-going temperament. He’s alertly, calmly taking in all that goes on around him and seems very smart.

His best years as an athlete were 2015 when he won the Berkeley Handicap (G3) at Golden Gate Fields at five years old, and 2016 when he won the Crystal Waters Stakes at Santa Anita. He continued to race and earn for five more years. By age ten it was clear it was time for him to step down and enjoy the secure retirement he’d so abundantly earned. Dare I use the word “cute” of such a valiant old campaigner?

The second half of the video features Einstein, who is possibly just now the happiest horse on the farm. Since his arrival at Old Friends, Einstein has shared a bond with barn staff member John Bradley. You may have taken a tour with John during the years when he was a tour guide. Last winter John’s knee was severely injured working on the farm. Surgeries were followed by months of physical therapy. When the physical therapy got hard, John would put a photo of Einstein on his phone and set it up in front of him as inspiration. He said this amused his physical therapist, but John knew that working through the pain was the only way to return to the fitness he’d need to go back to work and care for Einstein daily. So he worked. For months. Meanwhile, the pandemic limited even his visits to Einstein. When John returned to work in mid-June he hadn’t seen Einstein in 85 days.

Einstein in sunset light

And Einstein hadn’t seen John. From January on, the rest of us watched Einstein look for John, miss him, and slowly decide that his best buddy was no longer going to be part of his life. As even the visits stopped, the horse remained in excellent health physically, but was visibly sad. If a Thoroughbred is lucky, he or she experiences a special bond or two during his or her racing and breeding career. Their bonds with a particular human can be intense but usually end when the horse moves on to a different life stage in a different place. Einstein had such a bond with his trainer, Helen Pitts. Anyone who saw them together could sense how deep their love for each other was. Years later, he was fortunate to bond again, with John. Now, he seemed to think, John too had left his life, and he wasn’t easily reconciled to it.

Einstein at dusk

When John came back into his daily life, Einstein’s happiness changed his whole demeanor, his body language, and the expression in his eyes. Einstein is one happy horse, but no happier than John. I want to share their joy with you.

Before you watch the video, I also want to share this absolutely gorgeous photo of Touch Gold that Laura took a few evenings ago. I hope you can come visit us soon and meet Poshsky, see Einstein, and once again watch Touch Gold come rumbling up to the fence at a gallop for carrots and a chance to show off.

1997 Belmont winner Touch Gold


The photos of Einstein and Touch Gold are by Laura.


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