He was one of the best racehorses of his era. He won G1 and G2 stakes on all 3 surfaces, including the 2009 Santa Anita Handicap and two runnings of the Woodford Reserve. After stud duty at Adena Springs in Kentucky and Daehling Ranch in California, his retirement to Old Friends was enabled by Frank Stronach. On arrival at Old Friends in March 2019 had been diagnoised with a tumor. He received surgery which it was hoped would be entirely successful.
It seemed to be. His health returned and Einstein enjoyed a happy year and a half at Old Friends, but in fall 2020 fell ill again with what proved to be a widespread resurgence of cancer. He was euthanized on the morning of Wednesday, October 28, 2020.
On the track he was courageous, determined and gritty. In retirement he was spirited, demanding, affectionate and kind. We, his friends and fans, are grieving. We will always miss him.
Today’s post and video are for Secretariat fans and pedigree geeks. Old Friends Blog Visit 20 began a three part series recognizing Secretariat’s ongoing influence on racing by celebrating the retirees at Old Friends who descend from him. They include some of our most successful athletes. Part 1 covered the horses in the paddocks and pastures on the south part of Old Friends’ main location in Georgetown. Old Friends Blog Visit 27, Secretariat Descendants part 2, visits with the horses on the main tour route who have the great Triple Crown winner among their ancestors.
Stormy Liberal and Patch
Some are stars of the sport, some worked hard and honestly, achieved according to their abilities and now enjoy a retirement just as amply earned. One is a movie star. Another never raced but gave birth to horses who did.
The horses you’ll visit this time are Afternoon Deelites, River Squall, Popcorn Deelites (who played Seabiscuit in the 2003 film), two time Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner Stormy Liberal, Patch, Nobiz Like Shobiz, Smooth Air, Sun King, Green Mask, Breeders’ Cup Marathon winner Eldaafer, and Mystery Trip.
If you’re wondering where are Saudi Poetry, Johannesburg Smile and other of your favorites who haven’t yet had Secretariat-related spotlight, his descendants who live on the back of the farm will star in part 3 in a few weeks.
To learn some horse-genealogy about these horses who range in generation from a grandchild to some great-great-great-grandchildren of Secretariat, or just to enjoy the beauty of the horses on a splendidly clear, colorful autumn evening, have a watch.
On Friday, October 2, 2020, Old Friends at Ashton Grove held its official opening. It’s been a long time in the works. When Old Friends supporters Bev and John Passerello moved from California to Ashton Grove Senior Living in Georgetown, they saw the potential for a wonderful blend of happy horses and happy people. The Passerellos saw that Ashton Grove, a new facility only a few miles from Old Friends’ main farm, included some good pasture land and a barn. These had formerly been used by Hill ‘N’ Dale Farm and were still in excellent shape. They saw there was good fencing and ample room well back from the noise of the road. They saw that Old Friends could use more space for horses. So, they talked with Michael and with Davonna Saier, Executive Director of Ashton Grove, both of whom loved the idea. Retired people and retired horses—it was a natural.
It was a big project being proposed, and of great importance to all concerned, equine and human. It had to be done right, and implementing such projects takes time, forethought, and effort. Through the year of planning and preparation the Passerellos provided the energy and unfailing confidence in the project that made it a reality.
John Bradley, who has been with Old Friends for many years, first as a tour guide, then full time barn staff, is managing the Ashton Grove extension of Old Friends. During the summer he oversaw the building of additional fences, installing of waterers and renovations to the barn. Davonna had given me a tour of the premises nearly a year before, so I knew it was a good, sound barn, but when John showed me the improvements he’d made for the safety and comfort of the horses and staff, I was really wowed.
In the last week of September the first five horses were moved to their new home. Daytona, Secret Getaway, Massone, Porfido and Ireland’s Eye—the herd some of us call “the red guys” though Porfido is bay—have lived together for more than a year. They’re a peaceful herd who all get along well with each other and they settled right in once they realized they were still together. When they discovered the wonderful un-grazed grass at their new home, their acceptance became delight. When they realized they shared Ashton Grove with human admirers who’ll make sure they get as many carrots as they did in their old location, they quickly decided all was truly to their liking.
Ireland’s Eye gets a carrot slice
Daytona enjoys a carrot
Jennifer Miller brings treats for the people at the opening event. She and Secret Getaway have made friends.
John unveils the sign, which names the barn…
… after the unfailing belief and energy of Bev and John Passerello, which made Old Friends at Ashton Grove a reality. (Notice their reaction. I think we succeeded in making the dedication a fun surprise.)
Laura does her magic.
Davonna gets interviewed by WLEX, Channel 18 in Lexington, which covered the event on their evening news.
Mary Greene shoots the video of the event she would post on Old Friends’ Youtube channel and on Facebook.
A few days before the opening, Old Friends’ newest residents, Magic Weisner and his longtime friend, Bo’s a Ten, arrived and settled in, too.
Yes, you read that right. Magic Weisner now lives at Old Friends!
Magic Weisner, who ran 2nd to War Emblem in the 2002 Preakness. He’s now 21.
During the 2002 Triple Crown season, Magic Weisner and his breeder-owner-trainer, Nancy Alberts impressed the racing world and became fan favorites. Nancy had bought a daughter of Bold Forbes named Jazema, paying $1 because of the filly’s crooked legs, but she trained Jazema to 14 wins. Jazema’s first foal was a decent racehorse too. Her second was Magic Weisner. Magic won the Maryland Juvenile Championship Stakes at Laurel Park. His three stakes wins at three prompted Alberts to give him a shot at the big time. Quite a long shot, in fact. He started at 45-1 in the 2002 Preakness Stakes, and with Richard Migliore up, Magic Weisner beat all except War Emblem. He impressed again with a 4th in the Belmont Stakes won by Sarava. Magic then won the Ohio Derby and finished 2nd in the Haskell. The 2002 contenders were a strong field, and Magic Weisner, the son of the $1 mare, managed by a hardworking horsewoman, proved himself one of the best.
The Meisters brought this big, beautiful photo of Magic Weisner and Nancy Alberts, 2002.
Then, at the top of his game, Magic contracted West Nile Virus, a mosquito-borne neurological illness. He was successfully treated at the New Bolton Center, but when he never regained his form Nancy Alberts retired him. He remained with her until her death in 2011, then was cared for by her sister Linda Meister and brother-in-law Carl “Bunny” Meister, Jr. until their their farm’s sale meant Magic and his companion Bo’s a Ten needed a new home. They found one with us.
The Meisters chose Ashton Grove as the Old Friends location where Magic and Bo would live, were on hand to make sure the two horses settled in well, and attended the opening on Friday.
Bo’s a Ten
As for Bo’s a Ten, here’s some news that’ll make you love her. She’s a daughter of Patton! If you were lucky enough to visit Patton during his years with us, you know he was one of the kindest and most lovable stallions we ever had. Bo’s a Ten may not have been a famous racehorse with her 3 wins out of 43 starts, but former connections remember her sweetness. Former owner Theresa Groff moved her to Tarad Hill Farm, where the Meisters had Magic Weisner, in 2015. Bo and Magic bonded tightly, and they now share a paddock of their own at Ashton Grove.
The setting is idyllic, the horses are relaxing into their new surroundings in John’s loving care, and this looks like the beginning of wonderful times and happy new friendships for all!
Here’s the OF Virtual Tour you saw Mary filming in the snapshot above.