Monthly Archives: August 2020

August 29, 2020

Birdstone is here!

Old Friends is extremely fortunate to welcome 2004 Belmont Stakes winner Birdstone to our Georgetown farm! It seems like just yesterday when the little brown colt made his late run to overpower Derby and Preakness winner Smarty Jones, denying Smarty the Triple Crown. Edgar Prado was riding.

At two Birdstone had won the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes for owner Marylou Whitney Stables LLC and Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito, with Jerry Bailey up. After the Belmont he went on to take the prestigious Travers Stakes (G1), again with Edgar Prado.


Birdstone’s pedigree is as impressive as his accomplishments. He is by Grindstone out of Marylou Whitney’s foundation mare Dear Birdie by Storm Bird. He’s now 19 years old.

For his entire stud career Birdstone stood at Gainesway Farm in Kentucky. His progeny include 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, 2009 Belmont Stakes victor Summer Bird, Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) winner Noble Bird, Peruvian Grade 1 winner Birdie Gold (whose damsire is Touch Gold), other graded stakes winners, and multiple stakes winner Underpressure whose dam is by Charismatic.

Our warmest thanks to John Hendrickson for entrusting us with the care of Birdstone in his retirement.






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August 27, 2020

The Pizza Man has arrived! Work All Week is here!

The Pizza Man

Work All Week. Photo by Rick Capone

The Pizza Man is the only Illinois-bred to win the Arlington Million, run in Arlington Heights, Illinois. A homebred for Richard Papiese’s Midwest Thoroughbreds, he’s by turf champion English Channel out of I Can Fan Fan, a daughter of Lear Fan. He began racing on the Midwest circuit, trained by Roger Brueggemann, and won most of his starts at two and three, including the Tex’s Zing Handicap at Arlington and Buck’s Boy Handicap at Hawthorne. At four his wins included the Black Tie Affair Handicap at Arlington, a stakes race named in honor of the great former Old Friends resident. In 2014 he won the Stars and Stripes Stakes, a Grade 3, with Florent Geroux riding and they teamed up to repeat that victory in 2015. The greatest feat of his career was his 2014 Arlington Million (G1) win, again with “Flo” up.

With Mike Smith he won the 2015 Hollywood Turf Cup (G2) at Del Mar, and with Flavien Prat, the 2016 Northern Dancer Turf Stakes (G1) at Woodbine. During that steadily successful career he won hearts as well as races. After retiring from racing he had a second career as a stable pony for his former trainer. Now he’ll get a chance to get the love and admiration of his many fans as he kicks back and enjoys the easy life at Old Friends.

The Pizza Man. Photo by Rick Capone

2014 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner and Eclipse Champion Male Sprinter Work All Week is by City Zip out of the Repriced mare Danzig Matilda. He, too, is an Illinois-bred, and a homebred for Midwest Thoroughbreds. Work All Week was also trained by Roger Brueggemann and earned his biggest stakes wins teamed up with Florent Geroux.

His seven stakes wins include the 2014 Phoenix Stakes (G3) at Keeneland. He only finished off the board once in his 19 race career, and 16 of those were wins! The path he to the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Sprint included a 7 race win streak at six different tracks. No wonder he earned the 2014 award as Eclipse Champion Sprinter and is two-time Illinois Horse of the Year. Besides that, he’s a friendly horse who will probably really enjoy being admired and treated by his fans.

Work All Week

Both of these 11 year old geldings arrived at Old Friends on the morning of Friday, August 21, 2020. This video visits with them that morning and again a few evenings later to see how they’re making themselves at home.


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August 20, 2020

Finally! The first “Secretariat Descendants” part one, is here. This Old Friends Blog Visit video features some of the horses on the south side of the farm who have Secretariat among their ancestors. Those I missed will appear in coming editions of “Secretariat’s Descendants.” Of course, Riva’s Way gets pride of place in the first video. He’s Secretariat’s grandson.

Riva Way, son of Tinner’s Way

For practical reasons (getting around to make the video clips), concentrating on one part of the farm at a time made sense, but within each video the horses are grouped by how they trace to Secretariat. For instance, many horses on the track these days trace back to the 1973 Triple Crown winner through one of his grandsons, who were among the most influential sires of the 1980s and 1990s, Storm Cat, A. P. Indy, Gone West, and so on. This is also true for our retired residents. Most of our descendants are grandchildren or great-grandchildren of one of these legendary stallions. So I sort of grouped them into tribes, i.e., the “Storm Cats.”


Except, I bloopered. I got so much into talking about Eldaafer as a son of the great A.P. Indy that I forgot to mention that on his dam’s side he’s also a Storm Cat! Eldaafer’s sire, A.P. Indy, had one of the star pedigrees of all time. His sire was Seattle Slew and his dam was Secretariat’s daughter, Weekend Surprise. But I didn’t add that Eldaafer’s own dam, Habibti, is by Tabasco Cat, a son of another grandson of Secretariat, Storm Cat. Guess this means I’ll have to feature Eldaafer again as one of the horses on the front of the farm, and talk about this other Secretariat connection he has. He’s sort of on the tour route, after all. There’s no such thing as too much Eldaafer.


Big Blue Nation

Johannesbourbon and Big Blue Nation are both “Storm Cats.” But Big Blue Nation is a very special Secretariat decendant. Watch the video to find out why!


Cherono is a grandson of Secretariat’s grandson, Gone West. On a personal note, just typing these great stallions’ names brings back memories. I was fortunate to see Storm Cat and Gone West in person, as well as Secretariat himself. I hugely regret never having seen Summer Squall in person. Some of you were fortunate enough to see them race. A few of you were even more fortunate to have worked with them. I envy you!

Ireland’s Eye (center) and Massone (R) play with Porfido

Of the three playing in this photo, Ireland’s Eye, has Secretariat for an ancestor. So does Massone, who didn’t make it into this video…well, actually he’s in it, standing next to his best friend Ireland’s Eye, but I didn’t talk about him yet in this vid. Porfido isn’t a Secretariat descendant, but he has  distinguished ancestry, including Exceller.

Cappuchino Kid

Most people think of Cappucino Kid either as Discreet Hero’s best buddy, or as top sire Medaglia d’Oro’s half-brother, but through his dad, Pioneering, Cappy has some of Secretariat’s DNA.

Brilliant Decision

So does Brilliant Decision. Those are the horses in this video. Later editions will feature others, of whom there are plenty.

As I did Aunt Pittypat thing, talking about who’s kin to who and how, I did try to emphasize one thing that too often gets lost in the shuffle. Writers about racing, and even some breeders, pay huge attention to the great stallions to the point that some of them seem to forget that behind most any great sire is a great dam. The mares who give birth to the great sires are usually superlative horses in their own right. So I do try to put in a mention of these breed-shaping mares. For the horses in this video, they are Secretariat’s famous daughters, Weekend Surprise, Terlingua and Secrettame, as well as two other daughters, Sister Dot and Rosa Mundi. All but Rosa Mundi were stakes runners, themselves. Terlingua and Weekend Surprise were multiple graded stakes winners.

I love walking the farm and seeing in the spirited beauty and playful speed of the horses all around me the clear evidence that something of Secretariat’s greatness lives on.

photos by Laura


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August 14, 2020

I know I keep saying I’m making a video about Secretariat’s descendants who live on the farm. I’m working on it. Really. In fact, there are so many descendants of Secretariat on the farm that there’ll probably be two videos. Then I’ll do the same for descendants of Seattle Slew. But with tours temporarily suspended again due to the pandemic, it seems more timely to do the best I can to give you a first-hand look at how the horses most of you know best are doing.

Sun King

Besides, the horses who live on the front of the farm are the ones whose routines are changed the most without tours, and who show the strongest signs of missing their visitors. These days they’re definitely appreciative of everyone who makes a tour-like round with carrots. So I took my ipad and a big bag of carrots for a walk around the tour route, asking all the horses, “What’s up?”


As you’ll see in the video, it was another hot night, but not as hot as when I made my last video walk, and several of the horses were more lively. Not Sun King. But that’s because he’s always more lively. So is Afternoon Deelites. Though I didn’t end up using any clips of AD, he got carrots too. He’s in fine form. Sarava was definitely in an enthusiastic mood, as you’ll see.

All of the horses in these photos are in the vid, and more.

Smooth Air

Pollard’s Vision

Touch Gold


Nobiz Like Shobiz

If I’d made the rounds according to schedule, I’d have been gathering clips on the south side of the farm, of Alphbet Soup & Gorgeous George, Einstein, Touch Gold and Game On Dude & Little Mike, just as the rose-gold sunset streamed down the hill at my back, lighting all their coats with bronze fire. But never mind “if.” There were two horses who had other ideas.

the bottom corner

This is the bottom corner. That is, the corner you turn when you go down the slope alongside Popcorn Deelites and Special Ring’s paddock. That’s Pops and Ring close to the center of the photo. It’s become a center of equine socializing since some younger guys moved into that neighborhood, Patch at the upper left, Stormy Liberal at the lower right. The horse at the lower left is You and I. In this photo they’re doing what they often do at quiet times, hanging out together. Now, another young guy has moved into the neighborhood. Poshsky now shares Stormy Liberal’s paddock, and are those two having a grand old time! Their interactions were so much fun that I sort of camped out right there and shot some of the longest video clips I’ve ever shot on the farm. If you ever wondered how lively youngish Thoroughbreds made friends, watch the middle of the video!

Einstein after sunset

Well. You can imagine what was happening by the time I got to the south side of the farm. The sun had set, the dark was gathering, and I had to hurry the trip down the hill before it got too dark to film. So I didn’t do justice to Alphabet Soup, George, Einstein, and especially Game On Dude, Little Mike, and Nicanor. At least they’re in the video. That’s more than I can say for Soi Phet, unless you count his hind end sticking out the end of the run-in shed. He just wasn’t interested. But Hogy came over for a hello.

So, enjoy this look at what Stormy Liberal, Poshsky, and gang were doing the other night.

By the way, in this one I didn’t do anything like tour spiel. I just imitated the wisest of the jockeys and tried not to get in a good horse’s way. If you’d like a video with these same horses’ stories, watch this Old Friends Blog Visit from this spring.

photos by Laura


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August 7, 2020

The guys in 51

Lazy August days. The horses have had it good this week. We’ve had a cool spell, temps down in the 70s most of the day and even milder at night. Recent rain has greened up the grass and given it back some of its tenderness, and not that much is going on. Summer peace and the singing of the cicadas fill the farm.

What, Tripper? (Johannesbourbon, Rail Trip, Cherono)

The horses on the main tour route probably do wonder what’s going on. All the fun visits (and carrots!) they enjoyed during the middle of the summer have been temporarily suspended again due to increased Covid-19 cases in our locale. None of us – horse or human – likes this, of course, but it’s necessary to protect our essential horse care staff. We look forward to when it’s safer to unite our horses and their fans.


Meanwhile, all the horses, whether on the tour route or not, are enjoying quiet naps in the shade and the security of their “family” of humans who, from their perspective, exist to serve their every need.

Alphabet Soup

A few evenings ago Laura walked the farm with her camera and lots of carrots. From the horses whose photos she caught, it was quite a hike, past Alphabet Soup and Gorgeous George, past Area 51, up to where Slim Shadey and Starspangled Heat live.

Slim Shadey

And then around the bend to the paddock Wake Forest shares with Brilliant Decision…

Brilliant Decision’s “summer blond” look.

… she got lots of good photos of Wake Forest and Brilliant Decision.

Here’s Wake Forest peeking over Brilliant Decision’s back. He’s almost too little to do that!

Got a carrot for Brilliant Decision?

Then she hiked all the way to the far end of the south part of the farm, what we call Farm #2. (It’s all continuous, but that makes it easier to identify where a horse or staff member is.) I wasn’t there, but following the trail of her photos is fun.

Awesome Gem being handsome.

Awesome Gem shares a paddock with Ivan Fallanovalot and Big Blue Nation at that end of the farm. Also in that neighborhood is longtime resident Discreet Hero. Though the population in that paddock has changed some during the last few years, whoever else is there, Hero sticks with his best friend, Cappucino Kid.

Discreet Hero

Then it looks like she retraced that long trek and headed up the main farm hill, taking the back way and saying hello to claiming king and son of Street Sense, Persie.

Persie (Racketeer in background. Not sure whose withers are between them).

And all the way back to the big pasture shared by Affirmed Success, Kudos, Interwin, El Oh El …

Kudos’ tail catches the sunset.

I think I know where she was going … what particular horse may have been her goal …

Miss Du Bois

Sure enough, Miss Du Bois had an eye out for her favorite human. Miss Du Bois has been flourishing in the love she gets from Laura, Carole, Antonio…she’s an easy horse to love!

Ivan Fallanovalot

An invigorating hike. I’ve enjoyed pretending to be along. I hope you have, too. This weekend my ipad and I will be covering as much of the farm as possible, as I continue my project, making video clips of all the descendants of Secretariat living on the farm. There are so many that they’ll probably make for more than one video I hope to post over the next few weeks. Then, I’ll do the same with all Old Friends’ decendants of Seattle Slew. Fun projects, I must admit! Until then, take care and stay well.

photos by Long-walkin’ Laura


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