Yesterday Old Friends in Kentucky resumed a tradition that has joined us meaningfully each Memorial Day, but which last year was interrupted by the pandemic. Once again we gathered to honor the memories of the horses who have passed. This Memorial Day we celebrated the lives of those we lost during this last year, and also those in whose honor we couldn’t gather last year.
Beau Cashin In
Count the Gold
W. C. Jones
Of course, “we” is figurative, including those of you who weren’t able to attend in person, whether you remember these horses on the track, or from visits to Old Friends, or as a youngster, stallion or broodmare. I also have to use “we” figuratively because I’m among those who couldn’t attend. Yesterday was the only day our stalwart farrier team from the Kentucky Horseshoeing School could schedule in our Ashton Grove horses to get their hooves trimmed, so John, Antonio, Christy and I spent the day holding horses and doing other routine, but important, horse health care. I miss seeing all of you who were at the memorial ceremony.
Our residents who passed during the last year
Old Friends in Georgetown, Kentucky
Archie’s Echo (1989-2020)
Palace Music – Chic Star (Star de Naskra)
Archie’s Echo, along with Winning Dubai, was one of the greatest survivors we’ve ever known. As a racehorse he wasn’t outstanding, but when in old age he was given a chance to thrive, he blossomed into a blend of exceptional sweetness and unique stubbornness. On a farm full of wonderful old characters, Archie was our Arch-Character. He lived to the venerable age of 31.
Awesome Again (1994-2020)
Deputy Minister-Primal Force (Blushing Groom)
It seems presumptuous even to attempt to describe the great Awesome Again. Winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Whitney and other graded stakes, sire not just of champions but many champion-level horses, including Old Friends retirees Game On Dude and Awesome Gem, as well as Ghost Zapper, Ginger Punch, Awesome Again was a Canadian Hall of Famer and surely should be inducted into the American Hall of Fame as well. At the end of his exceptional stud career at Adena Springs he was retired to Old Friends last October. We knew him as a magisterial old gentleman who was unfailingly friendly and kind. We were heartbroken when he passed in December and will always be honored that he lived with us.
Count the Gold (2006-2020)
Banker’s Gold-Black Tie Countess (Black Tie Affair)
Count the Gold was our first third-generation Old Friends retiree. His damsire, Black Tie Affair and his dam, Black Tie Countess, lived with us in their final years. Count the Gold was far from the athlete his Horse of the Year grandpa was, but he was a steady, and stabilizing, citizen of the herd he called home. Though he usually left the antics up to others, he was always quietly there for carrots, companionable times in the evenings, and good will toward all, horse or human. He felt no need to be a diva or a star, and we were fortunate to have him in our lives.
Classy Charm (2002-2020)
Silver Charm-Classy Clara (General Meeting)
Classy Charm was our other third generation family member, as her grandmother, Bonnie’s Poker, was one of our founding residents, and her sire, Silver Charm, remains our brightest star. Classy Charm was a multiple stakes winner in her own right, dam of winners, and a confident, friendly, mannerly retiree. She was also a loyal friend to Saudi Poetry, whom she befriended when they shared a paddock and whose companion and advocate with the other mares she remained when these two joined the mare herd in a larger pasture. It was hard saying goodbye to such a good hearted lady.
Strawberry Road-Daring Bidder (Bold Bidder)
Dinard won top West Coast three-year-old races that could have positioned him as a Kentucky Derby contender. He later showed he could handle the distance. In fact, Dinard handled all phases of life with grace, equilibrium, admirable common sense and a very special and rare kindness. Often he shared his feed tub with his fellow retirees, first polishing off one tub, then ambling together to take care of the other. Dinard was a horse to whom horses and people alike gravitated. He was a favorite companion to all and achieved the admirable age of 32.
Spend a Buck-Gay Charm (Ghadeer)
Einstein, a Brazilian-bred, made his mark on the North American turf, dirt and artificial track. His many wins include the Santa Anita H, Woodford Reserve (twice) and Gulfstream Park S (twice). No one who ever saw him run will ever forget this formidable athlete, and no one who ever met him will ever forget his powerful presence. He had a fiery spirit and toughness in him, yet he was kind, and exceptionally loving to those he accepted as his own. There are no words to describe his beauty, spirit and presence, or our sadness at the loss of him.
Slim Shadey (2008-2021)
Val Royal-Vino Veritas (Chief’s Crown)
Millionaire Slim Shadey was an Englishman who really hit his stride in America at the age of four, excelled through six and endured on the track through the age of eleven. He was elegant to look at, rather reserved to know, and not at all sure at first whether he liked retirement. But when he realized it was all about good times, he mellowed out to a friendly guy, as popular with his paddock mates as he was with us humans. We will always miss him and be deeply saddened that his retirement didn’t last as long as the years he spent achieving as an athlete. Slim Shadey was truly great of heart.
Winning Dubai (2009-2021)
E Dubai-Winning Bidder (Private Account)
The formidably enduring Winning Dubai should by rights have lived forever. He prevailed year after year on the Hipódromo Camarero in Puerto Rico. In 2012 he tied for most wins by any horse in North America. After his last race at the age of eleven, his fortitude and game spirit had earned such affectionate respect that he continued residing on the track backside, the only room for a horse on the small, urbanized island. But then he was caught up in Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico in 2017. As many horses as possible were evacuated to Florida, Winning Dubai among them, and he came to live with us. Winning Dubai was no pushover. He knew his own mind and stood firm for what he wanted. He was admired by all and formed an especially affectionate bond with Cost Affective.
Old Friends at Cabin Creek, New York
Next Question (2008-2020)
Stormy Atlantic-Seattle Stardust (Slew City Slew)
Affectionately known as Q at Cabin Creek, Grade 1 winner Next Question was much loved for his sweetness. Shown here with Joann Pepper, he was a formidable contender through 2013, winning the 2012 Nearctic Stakes at Woodbine, and participating in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Sprint. He and Will’s Way are buried at the Cabin Creek farm in Greenfield Center, New York.
Will’s Way (1993-2020)
Easy Goer-Willamae (Tentam)
We at the Georgetown farm were fortunate to give Will’s Way his first home in retirement in 2007. He moved to Old Friends at Cabin Creek in 2010. He made himself much loved in both of his homes. I won’t claim it was for sweetness. But to those who accepted him as he was, Willy gave a lot of love, in his way. He was, of course, one of the best racehorses of his time, winner of the Travers and Whitney, beating Skip Away as many times as Skip Away beat him. The three-way rivalry of these two with Black Tie Affair’s son, Formidable Gold, was one of the most exciting in the history of racing. In his teens he was one of the runningest retirees we ever had on the Kentucky farm. At sunset he, Sunshine Forever, Kiri’s Clown and Awad loved to race each other, each stallion in his own paddock. Willy had a refined, wicked little nose and he loved to bite. He also loved to play, matching your pace, changing speeds and directions on a dime when you gave him the subtlest signal. When he moved to New York it was a return to the neighborhood of Saratoga where he was king. He loved to bite there too. Just for the fun of it. He was happy in his home at Cabin Creek. He wowed fans, made fast friends with some, and gave love, in Will’s own Way, to those with the greatness of heart to appreciate his greatness of heart.
Those who passed last year
The 2020 Memorial Day tribute was virtual: for these horses: Beau Cashin In, Cajun Beat, Euronfire, Geronimo, Shadow Caster, W. C. Jones, War Emblem and Yankee Fourtune, please see last year’s Old Friends Channel’s Memorial side show and the Old Friends Blog post (scroll down to May 25).
All of these horses will always be lovingly remembered.
Ky photos – Laura Battles, NY photos – Connie Bush