December 4, 2016, evening

What a day it’s been! At 9:00 a.m. Charismatic was turned out for his first look at the farm and a chance to stretch his legs. He looked noticeably rested and took in his surroundings with alert curiosity. As he swung into a trot a collective ahh! went up from all of us. What a surprisingly gorgeous, floating, extended trot this horse does on those flashy white-stockinged legs! A winged Pegasus trot, barely skimming the ground!


It was an overcast morning and neither my camera or I are great at photography. This is the nearest I came to capturing that trot.


Of course, all the intriguing smells in a new paddock must be investigated immediately.

He spent much of his morning introducing himself to the interesting personalities around him. Not the humans. The really interesting ones–the horses.


Charismatic meets Fighting City Hall and Danthebluegrassman.


Let’s race.


No contest. (By the way, the paddock has rounded corners and he negotiated them all smoothly and gracefully.)

So, what about that big guy over on the other side of his new digs?


Afternoon Deelites: Who do you think you are, new kid in town? I ran in the Kentucky Derby.

2016 1204 Charismatic first morning 17 AD whos studlier.jpg

Charismatic: Oh really? I won the Kentucky Derby.

2016 1204 Charismatic first morning AD makes faces.jpg

The highlight of the morning, one of the biggest highlights of any morning, ever, at Old Friends, was the welcome-back visit paid by Charismatic’s trainer, D. Wayne Lukas. The Hall of Famer remarked on how good Charismatic looks, and on his excellent muscle tone. “He looks exactly the same,” he kept saying happily.


A long awaited reunion – Charismatic and D. Wayne Lukas. Photo by Laura Battles.

Mr. Lukas also delivered the Charismatic’s Inner Circle certificates he has generously autographed–all 300 of them, and recounted stories of Charismatic’s racing days. While he and Charismatic spent some time together I found myself standing next to Dr. Waldridge, who said he’s pleased with the preliminary exam. In the next few days these will be followed up by the full exams and recommendations that all Old Friends’ new retirees receive. The barn staff reports that Charismatic has been drinking a good amount of water–important after travels for maintaining a horse’s health.

For more (and better) pictures, see @oldfriendsfarm on Twitter and check out Barbara Livingston’s gorgeous photo of that extended trot on Facebook. Now there’s a photo that does that trot of his justice!



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December 4, 2016

Here are some of Laura’s photos of Charismatic’s arrival at Old Friends last night.









Wonderful to have you back in Kentucky, Charismatic. More soon.



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December 3, 2016

How’s this for a photo of that stall?


Charismatic settles into his stall at Old Friends. Photo by Barbara D. Livingston

Charismatic arrived at the farm a little after dark this evening. The available light didn’t make for the easiest photography conditions, but I call this one beautiful sight.

The 1999 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, now 20 years old, was welcomed briefly by Old Friends staff and our vet in residence, Dr. Bryan Waldridge. After a few photos and preliminary checks he was allowed the quiet to settle into his new quarters where, hopefully, he will enjoy a sound night’s sleep.

@DRFLivingston on Twitter for a few more of Barbara Livingston’s photos of his arrival and check @Oldfriendsfarm for news flashes about Charismatic during his quarantine. As soon as Michael sets a date and time for his Welcome gathering, you’ll find that information at @Oldfriendsfarm on Twitter.

John Bradley has uploaded a short video of him getting off the van to his Facebook page

More to come here as he settles in and we begin to get to know him. Here in Georgetown we’re all settling into our own versions of hay and soft bedding with big smiles on our faces.


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December 2, 2016

Well. I promised a photographic look at our fantastic new quarantine quarters. So yesterday I diligently snip-snapped away with my camera. I took pictures of the stall that will be Charismatic’s, the bedding, the facilities for feed, hay, water, the spacious paddock he’ll be able to access at will. Proud of myself, I buzzed home to download them. Urgh! where’s my usb cord? Nowhere! The comedy of errors continued today when Sylvia kindly loaned me a cable with what looked like the right connection. You guessed it. Not.

So I’ll do my best to describe what the photos still stuck on my camera would have shown. First, the barn. If you haven’t seen our new barn, it’s amazing. Its design benefits from our staff’s and vets’ collaborative thinking and experience to make it the safest, most secure and pleasant environment a horse can enjoy. The stalls are big, the floors easy on the feet beneath the plentiful bedding, the atmosphere is airy and well lit–by day the wood and soft, plentiful daylight give the place a mellow glow. Old Friends is grateful to Fasig Tipton’s Blue Horse Charities and the other donors who made this barn a reality.

Besides the front door opening to the barn aisle, Charismatic’s stall has another door opening onto a paddock big enough for him to run around a bit, graze on the winter grass, sun himself on mild days, and get accustomed to his surroundings. Double fencing will make sure quarantine is maintained and that a buffer of peace and quiet surrounds him as he gets used to the doings at Old Friends. When this back door between his stall and barn are open he can choose freely whether he’d rather be in his paddock or go into the shelter of his stall where his best of hay and fresh water are always available and where he’ll be served his breakfasts and dinners. Talk about a luxury suite!

And of course, in quarantine doesn’t mean lonely. He’ll have hands-on care from Old Friends staff who will carefully follow the procedures required by the government, the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, and our barn management in consultation with  Resident Veterinarian, Dr. Waldridge. For a horse transitioning from the relatively private life of a stallion at stud to the popularity of a celebrity at Old Friends, this intermediate stage will help him get to know and trust those who will be the core of his support staff in his new life. He’ll feel loved.


Ide, generously donated to OF this year by Clear Creek Farm, Louisiana. Behind him are the back doors giving the quarantine stall and other stalls access to outdoor paddocks (located beyond the right edge of the photo).

This is Ide (Forty Niner-Maytide by Naskra), winner of the 1996 Rebel Stakes, who came to live with us this year (isn’t he gorgeous?). Behind him are the row of back doors I’m talking about. They lead into various paddocks and runs providing outdoors access from stalls when the doors are open. I took several pictures of the spacious area Charismatic will use. Oh well,it’ll look even more impressive before long anyway.

With Charismatic in it! Soon…soon…

photo of Ide by Laura

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November 27, 2016

What more wonderful Christmas present could there be in the whole world than Charismatic?

Members of Charismatic's Inner Circle will receive this certificate with Barbara Livingston’s beautiful photo of Charismatic’s 1999 Kentucky Derby win.

Members of Charismatic’s Inner Circle will receive this certificate with Barbara Livingston’s beautiful photo of Charismatic’s 1999 Kentucky Derby win.

For $199.99 you can help fund the 1999 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner’s return home and be a member of Charismatic’s Inner Circle. Receive a token of appreciation and invitation to a special event with Charismatic. But most of all, what a wonderful gift you can give to Charismatic!

CH H foaled March 13, 1996
Summer Squall – Bali Babe (Drone)
Breeder: Parrish Hill Farm & W. S. Farish, KY
Owners: Robert B. and Beverly J. Lewis
Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas
Jockey (Triple Crown races): Chris W. Antley, (Lexington Stakes): Jerry Bailey
(other wins): Laffit Pincay, Jr., Chris McCarron
Winner of the 1999 Kentucky Derby, 1999 Preakness, 3rd in the 1999 Belmont Stakes
Derby prep win: 1999 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland
17 5-2-4, $2,038,064
1999 Horse of the Year & Champion 3 Year Old Colt
at stud: (2000-2002) Lane’s End Farm, KY, (2003-2016) JBBA Shizunai Stallion Station, Japan
Retiring to Old Friends 2016

Old Friends thanks JBBA, and thank you to the Robert and Beverly Lewis Family Foundation and Tito’s Handmade Vodka for very generous contributions toward Charismatic’s return home.

Like all stallions entering the country from overseas, Charismatic will go through a multi-step government-required quarantine before and after his arrival at Old Friends. This period lasts for a variable number of weeks before he can be available for visits. For news, check @oldfriendsfarm on Twitter,, and our Facebook page.

And check back here for perspectives on our preparations. Coming next: Charismatic will be the first horse to use Old Friends’ brand new, luxurious quarantine suite! Get a photo look at what he’ll enjoy.

Watch Channel 18’s spot about Charismatic’s
fundraising drive with footage of Silver Charm and War Emblem
(and Boule d’Or and Eldaafer & his goats and T.J. …)



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June 8, 2016

2016 06 08 Squally maneDelay of Game 1993-2016

In Delay of Game’s passing we’ve lost one of our most valued friends and role models.

As some of the best do, he grew to wisdom after a rambunctious youth. Sarah Arnold, who’s known him since he was two, once told me that when she was his exercise rider her nickname for him was Stinky Dee. Sarah had the right to call him that. No one knew him longer or better, or loved him more than Sarah. By the time he came to Old Friends at seventeen he’d matured into a quietly dignified horse, patient about most things, and infinitely kind.

Delay of Game wasn’t one of those horses whose presence takes up a lot of extra space, but you felt his class at once. He wasn’t flashy, but his proportions had a rightness, his magnificent chest looked like it housed a powerful heart, and the pale celadon green flecks in his eyes were as beautiful as their intelligent, friendly expression.

Oh, he had plenty of spirit. His accumulating old age issues notwithstanding, he let us know that when it was time to do feet. But what I’ll remember best was the pleasure he took and returned. Being groomed on a summer evening. Trading nuzzles with his human friends. In the company of his paddock mate, Judge’s Case, who felt secure in his leadership. Delay of Game may not have understood all the words spoken to him, but he was remarkably willing to listen, to be open to his friends in happy times and sad ones. To the end, his strength was quiet, supportive and deep. He was a horse of genuine class in every sense. If we humans can achieve half his wisdom and grace in old age, we’ll be doing admirably. We’ll never forget him.


Delay of Game, Feb. 2016

Delay of Game, Feb. 2016

2016 06 08 Squally 2016Delay of Game in 2016


photos by his good friend Laura


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June 3, 2016

On Memorial Day we gathered to honor the five residents of Old Friends in Georgetown who passed during the last year. They were Mixed Pleasure, Francis (Do One Dance), Flick, Gulch, and Wallenda.

2016 06 03 Mixed Pleasure

Mixed Pleasure (1985-2015)

2016 06 03 Francis 2015 2

Do One Dance, a.k.a. Francis (1984-2015)

2016 06 03 Flick 2

Flick (1992-2016)

2016 06 03 Gulch 4

Gulch (1984-2016)

Wallenda 090826-01

Wallenda (1990-2016)

Supporters, staff and volunteers listened to Old Friends’ official eulogist Bill Mooney’s tribute to each horse. Bill said so much that was so meaningful, in so few and so eloquent words that each horse seemed to stand there for a moment, clear, himself, unforgetable.

2016 06 03 Bill M 2

Bill reads the eulogy


Those who were especially close to a particular horse or who wanted to share some powerful experience inspired by Mixed Pleasure, Francis, Flick, Gulch or Wallenda, generously shared how that horse came into their lives and made a difference in them.

2016 06 03 John

John talks about his friend and teacher, Mixed Pleasure.

2016 06 03 Val

Val tells the story of Francis.


We very much missed Bucky Sallee’s Call to the Post, but the tradition of the Last Call to the Post continued with Steve Siegel doing the honors. Those who remember, or have heard about, some of the residents’ interested responses to previous memorial Calls looked around and caught some heads flung up, some ears pricked. War Emblem was too far away for us to see if he responded, but Touch Gold seemed to love hearing “his song.”

2016 06 03 Touch Gold

Touch Gold charges over when he hears the call. “Where’s the race?”

Silver Charm just looked over and continued munching the lovely early summer grass. And with every right. Who’s been there and done that more convincingly than he has?

2016 06 03 Silver Charm

As always, Silver Charm exhibits the ultimate cool.


On the eve of the groundbreaking for the new barn on the site of the “small barn,” our former hospital and quarantine barn that burned down last winter, the sign was unveiled that will adorn the new barn, dedicating it to the memory of pioneering Thoroughbred aftercare advocate John Hettinger. Old Friends is grateful to Fasig Tipton and the many other generous donors who have enabled us to replace the all-important hospital and quarantine barn. Follow its progress on our Facebook page and on this blog.

2016 06 03 John Hettinger Memorial Barn

This beautiful sign will be on the John Hettinger Memorial Barn, now under construction.


People take for granted that humans can deeply affect each others’ lives, perceptions, and wisdom. Sometimes it isn’t recognized that an animal can contribute just as profoundly to our ability to live, feel, and gain wisdom. All of our supporters who have made Old Friends possible and make it continue to work possess a clear understanding of the powerful effect these horses have on us, both the track and as they continue to enrich our lives in their retirements. As handicapper, fan and longtime OF supporter Kate Dunn said after Monday’s gathering, “I guess Michael was thinking about helping horses when he started but I wonder if he knew how much the horses would help people.”


2016 06 03 Mixie and John 2015

Mixed Pleasure

2016 06 03 Francis 1

Francis (Do One Dance)

2016 06 03 Flick 1


2016 06 03 Gulch Nov 2015


Wallenda 091012-02


the good photos – Laura
the snapshots – Beth


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April 25, 2016

I’m pleased to introduce a guest blogger with a special announcement.



A Charmed Life cover - web

My first book (as an author, that is), A Charmed Life, will be in the Old Friends in Georgetown gift shop within days. If you can’t wait that long – which is understandable – you can buy it now on The link is at the end of this post.

Little Silver Charm

A Charmed Life

by Little Silver Charm


I am an extremely modest little horse and yet I’m not surprised when visitors to Old Friends make a point of seeking me out before they ask to meet (Big) Silver Charm, War Emblem, Game On Dude, Sarava, Touch Gold or any of our many retired Thoroughbred champions. I am pretty cute after all. But I’m more than just a pretty face. As I leafed through the pages of A Charmed Life, a brilliant collection of photographs of me, many taken by world-class equine photographers, I gained some insight into the secret of my phenomenal appeal. It’s not just that I’m adorable, or that I’m incredibly photogenic. I think people respond to my keen intelligence and my independent spirit, qualities that emerge in so many of these photographs and the accompanying remarks from my internationally acclaimed Facebook page. These same qualities moved Michael Blowen, our founder and president, to name me Old Friends’ official spokeshorse. I hope you enjoy the photos and my comments and that you will visit me at the farm and on my Facebook page, Little Silver Charm at Old Friends.

2016-04-25 MB shows ACL to LSC

With lots of photographs by Barbara Livingston, Equisport Photos, Connie Bush, Rick Capone,  and Laura Battles, to name just a few!

Get A CHARMED LIFE at Amazon

With “Look Inside”!


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March 11, 2016

Arson leads IC

Arson Squad, front, leads the way for I’m Charismatic.

Continuing the theme of some of the best friends at Old Friends, another pair known to many of our supporters and visitors are Arson Squad and I’m Charismatic, whose bond has endured and strengthened through some life-changing developments. The two bay geldings could hardly have been more different on the track, Arson Squad a well-known millionaire multiple graded stakes winner, I’m Charismatic, though a son of Derby and Preakness winner Charismatic, a modest claimer who by the end of his career was struggling in the bottom-most ranks with an ankle issue that should have sidelined him long before a fan enabled his retirement. Arson Squad was as lucky as he was talented: his owner was Samantha Siegel of Jay Em Ess Stable. He was going strong when a workout-related accident cut his career short. Thanks to Samantha, Arson received the treatment for a comfortable retirement and normal pasture life, and a place at Old Friends.

Both geldings having survived serious issues in the right front ankle, they were perfectly matched paddock mates. As younger horses do, they’d enjoy playing but neither would push the other beyond what he should do. And so it proved. They hit it off so well that when Arson Squad made a guest appearance one Saturday morning in the Keeneland paddock, I’m Charismatic trotted around and called for him until he returned that afternoon.

Tougher times were in store for I’m Charismatic, though. He succumbed to an incurable infection that gradually blinded him. Though repeatedly tested and treated by our expert resident vets, the late Dr. Doug Byars, and Dr. Bryan Waldridge, both among the leading equine vets worldwide, I’m Charismatic’s sight could not be saved. He’s otherwise a healthy, active horse. He’s also smart and a great adapter to everything life has brought to him. I’m Charismatic already knew his paddock and paddock mate well. If we can help it we’ll never change his environment  or his companion.

Arson and IC

Left: Arson Squad, right: I’m Charismatic.

Since then, Arson Squad has retrained himself for a new career. In many ways he has taken on the role of his buddy’s Seeing Eye horse. I’m Charismatic has learned new things, too. He was already an expert meeter and greeter on tours and still is. Formerly not much of a cuddler, he’s now learned to enjoy being rubbed and scratched, a new way to communicate with the people he can no longer see. More than that, when he was sighted the leader in that paddock was I’m Charismatic. In herds, even herds of two, horses always have a pecking order. Nowadays, the leader in that paddock is…you guessed it…I’m Charismatic. He may not walk in front, but horse leaders usually don’t anyway. He still tells Arson what to do. Arson, being the peaceful soul that he is, gracefully plays his supporting role and remains a patient and kind friend to his best buddy.

I'm Charismatic has a rest on the warm hay pile. Arson rarely goes far away.

I’m Charismatic has a rest on the warm hay pile. Arson rarely goes far away.


Photos by Laura

I was going to post about several other pairs, but this has turned into a long account, so coming soon will be Victor Cooley & El Brujo, Rapid Redux & Amazombie, our newest twosome Futural and Yankee Fourtune, plus an interesting triangle with Maybesomaybenot living up to his name.


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March 10, 2016

I should have included…


Swan’s Way, too, is enjoying the warmer weather and the larger numbers of visitors who are taking advantage of the milder temperatures to admire his hard-knocking past and relaxed retirement. Swanny has been with us “since Hurstland.” That is, since Old Friends was located at Alfred Nuckols, Jr.’s’ beautiful Hurstland Farm in Midway. Old Friends’ main location moved to Georgetown in June 2006.


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