August 16, 2018

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Genuine Reward (1993-2018)

As painful as it is to write a goodbye to a horse I love, it’s far more wrenching when the horse is important to many people, and whose passing is, in a way, the end of an era. Throughout his 25 years, Genuine Reward carried a double dose of love on his elegant, golden-red back, his fans’ love for himself and for his extraordinary dam. He was the first of the two foals of 1980 Kentucky Derby winner, Genuine Risk. She was the second filly to win the Derby after Regret’s 1915 win, and remains one of only three fillies to do so (the third was Winning Colors in 1988).

Watch Genuine Risk win the 1980 Kentucky Derby

Genuine Risk was inducted as a Racing Hall of Fame champion in 1986. Here are her National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame pages.

On retirement from the track Genuine Risk was bred to Secretariat, which would have produced the first foal of two Kentucky Derby winners in history. But that was not to be. That foal was stillborn, and subsequent breedings to different stallions failed to produce a live foal until May 15, 1993 when the aptly named Genuine Reward was born at Three Chimneys Farm. Health issues made his earliest days anxious, but as soon as he was in the clear, racing and local Lexington news media were invited to celebrate him. Stories about him featured frequently, and racing fans couldn’t get enough of photos of him galloping and nuzzling with his famous mom.

Here’s a vintage video clip of them as aired on ESPN2.

As he was by formidable turf sire Rahy, it was anticipated the colt might become a stakes winner on either dirt or grass, and when he was mature enough, owner-breeders Mr. & Mrs. Bertram Firestone put him in training with Bill Mott. But the colt repeatedly bucked his shins (tore the connective tissue between the leg muscle and canon bone). Racing was just not in his future. (Gossip says he wasn’t that enthusiastic about training, anyway. Wasn’t he already a star? Didn’t the world already adore him just for being him? And truth to tell, the world did adore him.) So Genuine Reward entered stud in Virginia. However, it’s a rare breeder who’ll take a chance on a stallion who’s both unraced and untried. Eventually Genuine Reward found a career siring polo ponies in Wyoming. Here’s the story of his retirement to Old Friends.

“Genuine Reward, son of Genuine Risk, to Old Friends” by Joe Nevills and Nicole Russo, Daily Racing Form, June 30, 2015

To make a long tale short, thanks to Seabiscuit author Laura Hillenbrand and others who helped facilitate, Genuine Reward arrived at Old Friends in July 2015.

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At once we fell in love with him. Not only was he one of the most beautiful horses ever to grace our Georgetown farm, G. R. (as we called him) was also one of the smartest, and though a stallion, one of the nicest. Having grown up as a child star, he took to the tours like the experienced pro he was. Basking in affection was second nature to him, and for three glorious years he relished starring on tours daily, often three or more times a day, with his jaunty mixture of aplomb and kindness. Unlike some, G. R. never strove for attention. He didn’t need to. It never occurred to him to wonder why so many people loved him. That was just who he was, and he gave kindness as generously as he received it.

We were not prepared for what at first seemed a minor infection to became the fast decline it did, but his time had come, and he made that clear. Yesterday afternoon our resident vet, Dr. Bryan Waldridge, and staff members he knew well, were with him at the end.

Genuine Reward’s obituary by Matt Hegarty, Daily Racing Form, August 16, 2018.

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I’ll always remember G. R.’s kindness to all, those who were part of his everyday routine and all those who met him. I’ll always remember his pleasure in his admirers’ love. And his shining eyes and caramel colored mane, and his fine, elegant conformation. His intelligence. His gallop to his feed tub and his particular nicker when his daily supplement snack was brought. And how in his final days he watched out the window each evening for the carrot shreds Michael or Diane or I stirred into his dinner. Those always coaxed him to eat a little more.

Genuine Reward, you lived a life of abundant good fortune and love. From foal to elderly retiree, you handled whatever life presented you with kindness and grace. Is there any achievement more praiseworthy than that?

Beth
photos by Laura

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July 25, 2018

Certain questions are often asked during tours. “How long does a Thoroughbred live?” “Do only male horses race?” and “What do your horses eat?” are frequent. One of my favorites is, “At age do Thoroughbreds start racing, and how long do they race?” That’s a great question because its answer depends on a horse’s sex and skill level, and on individual owners’ philosophies, and the differing answers reflect the complex and quirky mixture of sport and business that is racing.

Another of my favorite often-asked’s is, “Doesn’t Old Friends have a descendant of Secretariat?” Now comes the part I love. Anywhere on the farm, you can turn a slow circle and point out several horses whose ancestors include the great 1973 Triple Crown winner. People tend to be surprised at how many, and it’s wonderful watching how awareness of this connection brings Secretariat’s many fans closer to these horses as a new sense of history and continuity is gained.

So, I thought it might be fun to share here the identities of some of our most frequently visited Secretariat descendants, those on or near the main tour routes. If you’re into the nitty-gritty, below each horse are his or her lines (blue = stallion, pink = mare) tracing back to the great Secretariat.

20180726 Afternoon Deelites

Afternoon Deelites

Afternoon Deelites – great-grandson
Intimate Girl < Medaille d’Or < Secretariat

Danthebluegrassman – great-grandson
Pioneering < Terlingua < Secretariat

20180726 Danthebluegrassman

Danthebluegrassman

Eldaafer – great-grandson and great-great-great-grandson
A. P. Indy < Weekend Surprise < Secretariat
Habibti < Tabasco Cat < Storm Cat < Terlingua < Secretariat

Nobiz Like Shobiz – great-great-grandson
Nightstorm < Storm Cat < Terlingua < Secretariat

20180726 Popcorn Deelites

Popcorn Deelites

Popcorn Deelites – great-great-grandson
Afternoon Deelites < Intimate Girl < Medaille d’Or < Secretariat

Rapid Redux – great-great-grandson
Thiscatsforcaryl < Storm Cat < Terlingua < Secretariat

20180726 Rapid Redux

Rapid Redux

River Squall – great-grandson
Summer Squall < Weekend Surprise < Secretariat

Sun King – great-great-grandson –
Charismatic < Summer Squall < Weekend Surprise < Secretariat

20180726 Sun King

Sun King

On any regular tour you’re likely to see four or five of the above, though please note that horses may be moved to a different paddock at any time, and that any horse’s availability for visits on any given day depends many factors contributing to the horse’s care and welbeing. But if you request to see one of these horses, your tour guide will do her or his best.

We have more Secretariat descendants and they like to meet and greet their fans, too. Though it’s not logistically possible to take regular tours to the far parts of the farm, you Secretariat fans are still in luck. Call and ask us about booking a private tour to meet horses like:

20180726 Elusive Honey

Elusive Honey

Elusive Honey – great-great-granddaughter
Elusive Quality < Gone West < Secrettame < Secretariat

Johannesburg Smile – great-great-great-grandson
Johannesburg < Hennessy < Storm Cat < Terlingua < Secretariat

20180726 Johannesburg Smile

Johannesburg Smile

Lubash – great-great-grandson
Freud < Storm Cat < Terlingua < Secretariat

Smooth Air – great-great-great-grandson
Smooth Jazz < Storm Boot < Storm Cat < Terlingua < Secretariat

Sokitumi Samurai – great-great-great-grandson
First Samurai < Giant’s Causeway < Storm Cat < Terlingua < Secretariat

20180726 Sokitumi Samurai

Sokitumi Samurai

These horses aren’t all that far from the front of the farm, and still others live a bit farther off the usual visitors’ path, including Riva Way, son of Secretariat’s son Tinners Way, and A. P. Valentine, who has the same sire and relationship to Secretariat as Eldaafer. Your private tour guide will be delighted oblige if possible. And there are other wonderful horses – with and without fancy pedigrees – to meet along the way.

Beth
Photos by Laura

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July 19, 2018

20180719 Landy

Highland Ack, or Landy, as he was known to his friends, was a 29 year old grandson of Hall of Fame champion Ack Ack. Landy never won a race, but he won the heart of his exercise rider, Melinda Schreck, with whom he became a successful hunter jumper and dressage competitor. In later life he was admired by Old Friends staff and volunteers for his pluck and decided mind of his own, and he was very fortunate in the love he received from supporters Val Nicholson and Brent Haskell. Val kindly shared these memories of him:

 

Brent and I started to support and help care for Landy when he came to be with Flip after Francis death in  Oct. 2015.  After Flip moved to the Christmas Mary stall due to concerns with his heat intolerance, Northern Stone  became Landy’s paddock mate in the summer of 2016.

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Highland Ack, aka Landy (L) with his friend Northern Stone, aka Rocky

Landy has been with us for almost three years and during that time it has been baby steps of trust.  However, Brent and I would like to think that after three years of tiny daily steps of quiet patience, Landy’s trust and love for us is now pretty solid.  He certainly has had his health issues this last five years with most over the last two year period.  It has been a blessing to see how time and love with quiet patience can grow a loving relationship.    I would often see Brent talking quietly to Landy and Landy’s ear cocked toward Brent’s lips as Brent spoke.  Although I was only a few feet away from them both I could not really hear what Brent was saying to Landy. When I asked Brent what he and Landy were talking about, Brent would say “that is between Landy and me”.

It took time and patience to work with Landy to put on fly spray……”oh no I don’t think so”, to pick up his feet to pick and have his hooves trimmed “you want me to do what with my feet?” and to take his medicine in a syringe “not likely”….initially he bolted….but every day I was out we worked a little at a time with praise and lots of kindness.   He loved being brushed and he would close his eyes in the sunshine and easily breathe with contentment.  He was very loving to Brent and I in his very own way.

It has been a privilege to support him….and I want to thank Carol and Antonio  so very much who worked tirelessly to care for him and James, Zack and Tammy who delivered hay, mended fences and did all the heavy lifting work in his paddocks.

We love you so Landy.

Val
photos by Laura

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June 9, 2018

Congratulations

Bob Baffert & His Team,
Mike Smith,
China Horse Club International, Ltd.,
WinStar Farm,
Starlight Racing,
Head of Plains Partners LLC,
John D. Gunther,
&
Ogygian’s great-great-grandson,

JUSTIFY

on winning the Triple Crown!

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Justify (shown after his Preakness win). Photo: Maryland Govpics (Wikimedia Commons).

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June 6, 2018

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20180529 Writing Memories 01

Here are some of the remembrances shared on Memorial Day.

 

Catlaunch
We will always remember and love our Buckeye Buddy, Catlaunch. Such a big beautiful, gentle, loveable horse. I believe he always remembered me our 2 visits a year.
– Barb & Ron Atherton

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Catlaunch

 

Come on Flip
His face … I loved his face!
And so much more!
– Terry Stahler,
who with Paul Stahler formerly owned Come on Flip and Do One Dance

20180606 Come On Flip

Come On Flip

 

Tinners Way
I will miss coming to visit Tinners Way. It brought me great joy to meet one of Secretariat’s own. Tinners was always quiet, but enjoyed the carrots we brought. When I visited him last year in May, his eyes told me it wouldn’t be much longer. His time served was almost done. To Tinners … may you rest in peace!
– Cindy & Darrel Duke

20180606 Tinners Way

Tinners Way

 

Private Zone
You were such a thrill to watch on the track – a super star! I wanted so much to see you at Old Friends, but it was not to be. You are loved & always remembered.
– Mary Jo Hoffman

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Private Zone preparing for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint

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Private Zone at Old Friends

 

Winston
As a volunteer of the Kentucky Derby museum, I will never forget getting to see him every time I volunteered. Thanks so much for this service & taking care of him.
– Brenda Lea

20180504 Winston

Winston

Beth

Photos of Catlaunch, Tinners Way, Come On Flip, & Private Zone
by Laura Battles

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May 30, 2018

Most of what goes on at Old Friends is about happiness. Keeping the horses healthy, secure and happy. Facilitating fun visits for the many guests who come to admire them. Witnessing joyful reunions between our residents and their former connections and longtime fans. We wish we could do all these things for each resident for the next 30 years. Sometimes the joy is so complete it feels like it’ll go on forever. But youngish horse or old, long retirement or all too brief, we provide for the final stage of horses’ lives, and now that we’re responsible for more than 200 horses, the number who pass each year has grown, too. Every Memorial Day we join our supporters and friends who can gather at the Georgetown farm. Together we remember the horses who have passed during the year. This year we shared fond memories of sixteen horses and a goat.

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Hard Luck Duck, Versailles Road, Our Revival, Tour of the Cat

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Early Pioneer, Ukiah, Private Zone, Come on Flip, Tinners Way

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Bonapaw, Burrwood, Diamond Stripes, Hidden Dark, Catlaunch

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Winston. Google the goat has a memorial plaque and Midnight Secret’s grave is at Old Friends at Cabin Creek, New York, where he lived.

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Michael delivered the eulogies. And yes, as always they brought tears at times and smiles at others. Such a wide range of characters leave behind tales and memories as varied, and as improbable and humorous at times as the individual horses themselves.

Steadfast friend of Come on Flip and others, Dr. Val Nicholson, concluded with her remeniscences and insights, and this year saw the beginning of what I hope will become a Memorial Day tradition. Those who wished to share their memories of those who had passed were invited to write them down.

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In former years, memories were shared aloud, which meant time constraints, hoping not to get up in front of people and cry, and that words spoken are words soon lost. Now these memories of the horses we all loved can be shared with a wider circle of people, many of whom couldn’t attend the gathering, and now we can keep them.

My own and other staff and volunteers’ remembrances can be found in blog posts of the past year, so rather than giving them short shrift here, I urge you to look back over those photos and words. But not all are represented there. Some, most of us at the main farm didn’t know, or didn’t know well. So this post remembers them all, not with words invented about them by humans, but in their own images.

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BONAPAW (1996-2017)
Sabona – Pawlova (Nijinsky II)
photo by Laura Battles

 

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BURRWOOD (1994-2018)
Bayou Hebert – All Zip (Royal Trio)

 

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CATLAUNCH (2001-2018)
Noble Cat – Skilaunch (Relaunch)
photo by Laura Battles

 

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COME ON FLIP (1991-2017)
Commemorate – Phillippe Dancer (Sovereign Dancer)
photo by Laura Battles

 

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DIAMOND STRIPES (2003-2017)
Notebook – Romantic Summer (On to Glory)
photo by Laura Battles

 

20180529 Early Pioneer
EARLY PIONEER (1995-2018)
Rahy – Golden Darling (Slew O Gold)
photo by Laura Battles

 

Hay Duck

HARD LUCK DUCK (1990-2018)
Duck Dance – Me Bright Two (Rebel Cause)
photo by Laura Battles

 

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HIDDEN DARK (1990-2018)
Ferdinand – Hidden Light (Majestic Light)
photo by Laura Battles

 

20180529 Midnight Secret

MIDNIGHT SECRET (1997-2017)
Key Contender – Flannel Sheets (Triocala)
photo by Connie Bush

 

20180529 Our Revival

OUR REVIVAL (2000-2018)
Ide – Flashy Revival (Grand Revival)
photo by Laura Battles

 

20180529 Private Zone

PRIVATE ZONE (2009-2018)
Macho Uno – Auburn Beauty (Siphon)
photo by Laura Battles

 

20180529 Tinners Way

TINNERS WAY (1990-2018)
Secretariat – Devon Diva (The Minstrel)
photo by Laura Battles

 

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TOUR OF THE CAT (1998-2018)
Tour d’Or – Tune into the Cat (Tunerup)
photo by Rick Capone

 

20180529 Ukiah

UKIAH (2002-2018)
Unbridled’s Song – Dixie Pearl (Dixieland Band)
photo by Laura Battles

 

20180529 Versailles Road - Cindy Grisolia

VERSAILLES ROAD (2006-2017)
Street Cry – Not Offensive (Deputy Commander)
photo by Cindy Grisolia

 

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WINSTON (1994-2018), who resided at the Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs and whose retirement with us was heartbreakingly brief

 

2017 08 21 - Google

GOOGLE, companion of Eldaafer on the track and in retirement

 

Beth

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May 15, 2018

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Catlaunch 2001-2018

 

Everybody on the farm loved Catlaunch, and “the Cat” loved everybody. Here are some thoughts about him by three of his daily companions, some of his many friends, some of the people with whom he shared special bonds.

 

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“Catlaunch was one of the most gentle horses I’ve ever had the privilege to know. Cat and I had a connection. Both being buckeyes how couldn’t we? As soon as he would hear my voice his ears would perk up and he would look for me. I’ll sure miss the big guy. He was one of my best friends.”  – Marisa Miller.

 

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“Catlaunch was grace and kindness. He was quiet power and steady strength. Catlaunch was patient with us and loyal to those who loved him. He knew. Our gentle giant is gone but I honor the warmth and love he brought to my heart.” – Lisa Wood.

 

Another of the Cat’s close friends, Joey Steiner, didn’t put his words in writing. Even now, it’s not easy to say goodbye to him. But Joey told me of his admiration for Catlaunch’s courage as a racehorse and in retirement. He spoke lovingly of the tall, handsome bay’s spirit as he fought the neurological issues that eventually ended his life, and of his gentle, intelligent way of relating to people, and of his infinite kindness.

 

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Catlaunch (L) with Game On Dude

20180515 Catlaunch w Michael Gonzalez

He loved visiting with his former exercise rider, Michael Gonzalez.

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Catlaunch taking a carrot from Michael’s mouth.

 
You made us more than we’d been before, Catlaunch. In losing you, we lose a piece of ourselves.

Beth
Photos by Laura

20180515 Catlaunch LB 5

 

 

 

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May 11, 2018

Living with horses means living with extreme highs and lows. Even as we celebrate the bright young stars in a remarkably strong group of three-year-olds now racing, we’re saddened by the loss of our retirees, Catlaunch at our Georgetown Farm, and Tour of the Cat at our Kentucky Downs location.

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Tour of the Cat (1998-2018), photo by Beth

Tour of the Cat, a son of Tour d’Or out of Tune in to the Cat (by Tunerup), was foaled May 3, 1998 in Florida and did much of his best racing there. Through his grandsire, Medaille d’Or, he was a great-grandson of Secretariat. He participated in the early stages of the 2001 Kentucky Derby trail with a second place finish in the Flamingo Stakes (G3) at Hialeah. His 10 stakes wins include the Miami Beach Handicap (G3) and Spend A Buck Handicap (G3) at Calder. When he needed to step down at age 11, Maggie Moss claimed him for retirement at Old Friends in 2009.

During his retirement, Tour of the Cat lived at our Georgetown farm, and most recently at Old Friends at Kentucky Downs, where he was a favorite with farm manager Jennifer Jones and his many visitors.

I’ll always remember Tour of the Cat as a proud guy with a mind of his own. He could be a bit fiery. These qualities carried him through his hard-knocking athletic career, but as he settled into retirement and maturity, he showed us how much kindness he also had. At all stages of his life, Tour of the Cat had heart. Up here in Georgetown and down in Franklin he will be missed by many.

.

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Catlaunch (2001-2018), photo by Laura

How to say goodbye to Catlaunch? Frankly, I think all of us at the main farm, as well as his connections and friends, haven’t quite managed that yet. Because he lived for so long in the front paddock with Game On Dude, then during his battle with his neurological condition spent so much time in the barn area, where he continued to meet and greet his visitors with unfailing loving gentleness, he was a constant in our lives, a mainstay, an especially close family member. I’ve asked a few staff and volunteers who were special to Catlaunch to contribute a few words about him, which I hope to post next week.

Both of these horses are very much in our hearts.

Beth

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May 7, 2018

Congratulations to
Justify (Ogygian’s great-great-grandson), Kentucky Derby winner,
Monomoy Girl (Williamstown’s great-granddaughter), Kentucky Oaks winner,

and all their connections, friends and fans!

Special thanks to all who partied with us yesterday at the 2018 Old Friends Homecoming, and grateful congratulations to all who won racing memorabilia and other cool stuff at the Homecoming auctions! In case you couldn’t be there, I caught a few snapshots of the fun.

20180507 partying

By Sunday all that Derby day rain had sailed far away. Race fans and other horse lovers reunited for good conversation in the spring sunshine, music by Shades of Grass, a Proud Mary BBQ dinner, and bar in the barn. Looks like this snapshot captured a moment of deep speculation…about the coming Preakness maybe?

20180507 Silver Charm gracious host

As always, Silver Charm played the gracious host. He listened as his fans recounted his 1997 Kentucky Derby, Preakness and other racing victories. He posed for photos. And yes, I saw him steal a kiss from an admirer or two.

20180507 bidding

The bidding at the silent and live auctions got hot and heavy. No kidding, with Danzig, Storm Cat, Curlin and Gun Runner halters up for grabs. Old Friends is grateful to all who donated this year’s especially wonderful items, and to all who contributed toward this highly successful fundraiser on behalf of our equine residents.

20180507 Viv photographs photographer of SC

An OF Blog photo of an OF Facebook photo in the making? Viv captures a photographer capturing a photograph of Silver Charm.

See those two bottles next to Viv? She put them there to protect a guest who turned up uninvited. Maybe he even gate-crashed. But he became one of the party’s guests of honor…

20180507 Norman

Norman the toad

And what party could be complete without…

20180507 Ring does his tat thing

…Special Ring doing his thing. “Show you my tat if you’ll show me one of those orange things.” Popcorn Deelites, as always, refuses to show his identifying tattoo. “I’m actually Seabiscuit! Really I am. It’s on film!”

If you couldn’t make it to Derby season Homecoming, the great news is that with this fall’s Breeders’ Cup Nov. 2 and 3 at Churchill Downs, this year Old Friends fun is a daily double. You heard it here first – your warm invitation to attend our fall 2018 Breeders’ Cup party the Sunday after Breeders’ Cup at Old Friends in Georgetown, Kentucky.

Beth

 

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May 4, 2018

A heartbroken goodbye to little Winston who died at Park Equine Hospital due to a stomach infection. In his brief time with us, Winston was patient, kind, friendly and sweet natured. We wish so much we could have shared many years with him.

20180504 Winston

Long a star at the Kentucky Derby Museum, Winston provided companionship for two decades to a series of retired racehorses residing at the Museum’s stable, including Phantom on Tour who ran in Silver Charm’s 1997 Derby, Perfect Drift who finished third in War Emblem’s 2002 running, and during a visit a few years ago, 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird.

But Winston was no second fiddle. He had plenty of achievements in his own right, including throwing the first pitch at a Louisville Bats game, performing proposals in his “Will You Marry Me?” blanket, and handicapping Derby results for Churchill Downs. Time to retire coincided with an expansion of the Kentucky Derby Museum into the area formerly occupied by that organization’s stable, and Old Friends was honored to provide what we hoped would be a longtime home and new fun meeting and greeting his fans in retirement.

You could tell Winston enjoyed being led out by Michael or others of us to be admired, petted and loved on by visitors. He already knew all there was to know about being adored. He and Little Silver Charm enjoyed being grazed together, he was gentle with children and friendly to all.

Winston will be greatly missed by many, not just this Derby season but always.

Beth

20180504 Winston 2

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