Tag Archives: Old Friends

Old Friends Welcomes Birdstone

GEORGETOWN, KY – Aug 28, 2020 – Belmont Stakes and Travers winner Birdstone has been pensioned to Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement Center in Georgetown, KY.

A homebred for owner Marylou Whitney and trained by Nick Zito, Birdstone captured the G1 Champagne Stakes as a two-year-old in 2003. Birdstone ran up the track in the Kentucky Derby and sat out the Preakness, before surprising most of the sell-out crowd when he got up in the final yards in the Belmont Stakes to ruin Smarty Jones’ try for the Triple Crown. That summer, at Saratoga Race Course, Birdstone proved that the Belmont was no fluke when he added a victory in the Travers Stakes to his impressive resume.

The son of Grindstone, out of the Storm Bird mare Dear Birdie, Birdstone retired from racing in 2004 after a chip was found in his left front ankle after his final start was in the GR1 Breeders’ Cup Classic. Birdstone retired with five victories from nine starts and earnings of $1,575,600.

He spent his stallion career at Gainesway Farm in Lexington, KY where he became one of very few sires to have produced a Kentucky Derby winner in their first crop, when Mine That Bird captured the 2009 Run for the Roses at 50-to-1 upset in 2009. That same year, his son Summer Bird repeated his sire’s efforts by winning both the Belmont and Travers Stakes.

“We are so grateful to John Hendrickson for allowing Old Friends to care for Birdstone in his post-breeding career,” said Blowen. “He’s a living tribute to the late Marylou Whitney, and we plan to carry on her great contributions to the aftercare of both humans and horses,” he added. “We’re extremely grateful to John for trusting us to care for his tremendous stakes winner. Birdstone had a great life at Gainesway and we plan to continue that tradition at Old Friends.”

For more information, please call (502) 863-1775 or visit the website at www.oldfriendsequine.org.

Old Friends Welcomes New Retirees Work All Week, The Pizza Man, and Syndergaard

The Pizza Man (left) and Work All Week.

GEORGETOWN, KY – AUGUST 21, 2020 – This week, Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement Farm in Georgetown, KY, welcomed three new retirees, stakes winner all.

Work All Week, a seven-time stakes winner, was owned and bred by Richard and Karen Papiese and campaigned by trainer Roger Brueggemann. The Illinois-bred son of City Zip was the champion male sprinter of 2014 after capturing the 2014 GR 1 Xpressbet Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Work All Week was retired from racing in 2015 at the age of six due to a stress fracture in his right knee with a 13-4-1 record from 19 starts and earnings of $1,511,071. In addition to his Eclipse Award as outstanding male sprinter, Work All Week is a two-time Illinois Horse of the Year.

The Pizza Man, another star for Papiese and Brueggemann, is a multiple GR1 winner. By English Channel out of the Lear Fan mare I Can Fan Fan, The Pizza Man is the only Illinois bred to claim victory in both the GR1 Arlington Million (2015) and the GR1 Northern Dancer Turf Stakes (2016). He retired from racing in 2017 at the age of eight after being diagnosed with a chip in his left front ankle. He closed his career with 17 wins from his 36 starts and earnings of 2,158,941. Since retiring, The Pizza Man enjoyed a second career as a stable pony for his former trainer.

Syndergaard, owned by the partnership of Eric Fein, Christopher McKenna, Harris Fein, Guri Singh, and Jerry Walia, was named after New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard. The New York-bred son of Majesticperfection – Magic Belle, Magical Thinking, was a dazzling 2-year-old under the tutelage of trainer Todd Pletcher, cinching his maiden outing at Saratoga and going on to capture the Funny Cide Stakes over the same oval. That same year he was second in the GR1 Champagne, which led to a start in the 2016 GR1 Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, where he ended up 5th. He later moved to the barn of trainer John P. Terranova II. This year, the chestnut gelding was retired after his last start June 6 at Belmont Park with 17 Starts, 3 Wins, 4 places, 2 shows, and earnings: $477, 269.

“We are absolutely thrilled,” said Old Friends President Michael Blowen. “I wish everyone could see the absolute joy expressed by The Pizza Man and Work All Week as they celebrate in their paddock. And Syndergaard is just gorgeous. Thanks to their owners for trusting us and their fans for all their support.”

For more information, please call (502) 863-1775 or visit the website at www.oldfriendsequine.org.

Old Friends Named Beneficiary of Charity for Champions Campaign

GEORGETOWN, KY – JULY 17, 2020 – Breeders’ Cup, one of Thoroughbred racing’s most prestigious international events, and Maker’s Mark®, the original premium bourbon, announced the 2020 Limited-Edition Maker’s Mark bottle from the Charity for Champions program, which began in 2015, with the goal of raising money for Thoroughbred industry charities.

Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement facility in Georgetown, KY, is once again proud to be named, for the fifth consecutive year, one of the official charity beneficiaries.

Home to such Breeders’ Cup Champions as Alphabet Soup (1996 Classic), Eldaafer (2010 Marathon), Little Mike (2012 Turf), and Amazombie (2011 Sprint), Old Friends cares for over 200 retired Thoroughbreds in six locations.

In addition to Old Friends, proceeds from the 2020 auction will support the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame and the Race Track Chaplaincy of America’s COVID-19 relief efforts supporting industry stakeholders most in need.

The latest collection of limited-edition Maker’s Mark® bottles will feature James E. “Ted” Bassett III, a former Keeneland and Breeders’ Cup President who has long been regarded as Thoroughbred Racing’s Gentleman Ambassador.

“Old Friends is honored to team up with the National Racing Museum and Hall of Fame and the Race Track Chaplaincy of America to pay tribute to Ted Bassett,” said Old Friends President and founder Michael Blowen. “Mr. Bassett, who has visited Old Friends on numerous occasions, is an enthusiastic supporter. His ambassadorship on behalf of these great Thoroughbreds is unparalleled and we are overjoyed that Breeders’ Cup and Maker’s Mark are saluting him with this magnificent bottle.”

The 2020 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, consisting of 14 Championship races, is scheduled to be held November 6-7 at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, KY.

Bottles can be reserved for a donation of $400, and fans can secure bottles now through the Charity for Champions page: CLICK HERE.

Bottle fulfillment and pickup information will be announced in the coming weeks.

For more information, please call (502) 863-1775 or visit the website at www.oldfriendsequine.org.

Grade 1 Winner Dinard Euthanized at Old Friends

Dinard at Old Friends (Photo: Laura Battles)

GEORGETOWN, KY – JULY 16, 2020 – Multiple graded stakes winner Dinard has died.

The son of Strawberry Road (AUS) was euthanized at Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement Farm in Georgetown, KY, due to the infirmities of old age. He was 32.

Dinard had been pensioned at Old Friends since 2010. Michael Blowen, founder and president of Old Friends, made the announcement of his passing.

Bred and campaigned by Allen E. Paulson and trained by Richard Lundy, Dinard (Strawberry Road (AUS) – Daring Bidder, Bold Bidder) was among the top three-year-olds in 1991.

He broke his maiden as a 2-year-old in his inaugural start at his home track of Santa Anita. Not three months later he earned his first graded stakes in the San Rafael (GR2) and soon after the Santa Anita Derby (GR1), which made him the favorite for the 1991 Kentucky Derby. But an injured foreleg took him out for the competition.

Other victories include the Los Feliz Stakes, and place finishes in the Grade 1 Strub Stakes and San Vicente Breeders’ Cup Stakes.  He finished out of the money only once in his career.

Dinard retired in 1992 with 8 starts, 4 wins and earnings of $590,250.

After retirement, Paulson sent the gelded Dinard to the Kentucky Horse Park with hopes he could be retrained for a second career, but foot and leg injuries prevented it. While at the park he was cared for by Georgetown local Beverly Sharp. Sharp fell in love with Dinard and Paulson gifted him to her on Mother’s Day. He remained with Sharp until 2010.

“He was my best friend for so many years,” said Sharp. “I want everyone to know how much I loved him.”

“Dinard was a great racehorse, a great companion, and a great elder statesman,” said Blowen. “We were proud to have him these 10 years. His kind spirit will be missed by all.”

For more information, please call (502) 863-1775 or visit the website at www.oldfriendsequine.org.

Old Friends Celebrates the Soi Phet Stakes Saturday June 27

Soi Phet at Old Friends (Photo: Laura Battles)

GEORGETOWN, KY – JUNE 25, 2020 – On Saturday June 27, 2020, Los Alamitos Race Course will host the inaugural running of the $125,000 Soi Phet Stakes (Black Type). Previously called the Bertrando Stakes (Black Type), it is a one-mile race on the dirt for California Bred Thoroughbreds 3 years old and up.

Bred by ARCHA Racing Inc. in California, Soi Phet was a son of Tizbud – Summer Jersey, by Siberian Summer. He was owned in his final seasons by the Benowitz Family Trust, Mathilde Powell, and Paul Viskovich, and trained for most of his career by Leonard Powell, who claimed the dark gray gelding at age 5 in 2013 for $16,000.

In his career, Soi Phet raced 64 times and put together a record of 15 wins, 7 seconds, 6 thirds, and $1,023,917 in earnings.

Without question, the track where he had the most success was Los Alamitos, where he raced in 11 black-type or listed stakes races and won five times.

Soi Phet contended in Bertrando Stakes (Black Type) six times and won it twice: 2014 and 2018. He also finished 2nd in 2016. On the same oval, he captured the E. B. Johnston Stakes (Black Type) twice (2016 and 2017) in four runnings, and had one of his most impressive career wins in the inaugural Los Alamitos Mile Stakes (Listed) in 2014, when he won it by 7-1/4 lengths.

In 2018, a then 10-year-old Soi Phet scored an especially memorable victory when he won the Crystal Water Stakes (Black Type) at Santa Anita to become the oldest horse to win a stakes race at the track.

CLICK HERE to see Soi Phet win the 2018 Crystal Water Stakes at Santa Anita at the age of 10.

While he never won a graded-stakes, he did run in a few of them. His best finish was a 3rd in the 2013 Awesome Again Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita, behind Mucho Macho Man, who would go on to win the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic, and Paynter.

Fittingly, Soi Phet’s final race came in the 2019 Bertrando Stakes. At age 11, he ran the race for a sixth time, finished sixth, and was retired. As a final honor to the fan-favorite, Los Alamitos renamed the Bertrando the Soi Phet Stakes.

For more information, please call (502) 863-1775 or visit the website at www.oldfriendsequine.org.

Old Friends Celebrates the Daytona Stakes Saturday May 23

GR1 winner Daytona at Old Friends (Photo: Rick Capone)

GEORGETOWN, KY – MAY 21, 2020 – On Saturday, May 23, 2020, Santa Anita will present the Daytona Stakes (G3T), a 5-1/2-furlong race on the turf, as part of their nine-race program.

Named for a resident at Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement facility based in Georgetown, KY, The Daytona Stakes pays tribute to the six-time graded stakes winner whose career earnings totaled nearly $1 million. Overall, the son of Indian Ridge, bred by the Irish National Stud, scored 8 wins, 2 seconds, and 3 thirds in 18 career starts.

CLICK HERE to see Daytona’s 2007 GR1 Hollywood Derby win, where he faced off against fellow Old Friends retiree NoBiz Like ShoBiz.

In 2008 Daytona started in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Oak Tree against the formidable Goldikova. Injured during the race, he finished 10th. It would be his final start.

Following his racing career, Daytona, a handsome chestnut, made an attempt at a second career but soundness issues prevented him from continuing.

The now 16-year-old Daytona was retired to Old Friends in 2014.

For more information, please call (502) 863-1775 or visit the website at www.oldfriendsequine.org.

Old Friends Celebrates the Sunshine Forever Stakes May 9

GEORGETOWN, KY – MAY 8, 2020 – On Saturday, May 9, 2020, the featured stakes at Florida’s Gulfstream Park will be the Sunshine Forever Stakes, a tribute to the champion grass runner who was the first stallion retired to Old Friends, the non-profit Thoroughbred retirement facility based in Georgetown, KY.

The son of Roberto out of the stakes-placed mare Outward Sunshine (by Graustark), Sunshine Forever was bred and raced by John W. Galbreath and his Darby Dan Farm and trained by John Veitch.

In 1988, as a three-year-old, the talented colt turned in an Eclipse Award winning season, capturing five graded stakes wins, including three Grade 1 stakes in an eight-week period: The Man O’War, the Turf Classic, and the Budweiser International.

Favored to win the Breeders’ Cup Turf, he finished a game second to Great Communicator in what may be one of the most exciting races in the history of the sport.

CLICK HERE to see Sunshine Forever’s 1988 Breeders’ Cup Turf.

Despite his narrow loss, Sunshine Forever nevertheless earned the 1988 Eclipse Award for Champion Male Turf horse.

Following his racing career Sunshine Forever stood stud in Japan from 1990 to 2004, at which time he was repatriated to the United States by Old Friends, and was among the organization’s first pensioned stallions.

He spent 10 years in retirement, passing away in 2014 at the age of 29.

For more information, please call (502) 863-1775 or visit the website at www.oldfriendsequine.org.

Lexington Bourbon Society to Host Zoom Derby Event to Benefit Old Friends

Silver Charm, 1997.

The Kentucky Derby has been postponed, but we still get to celebrate the First Saturday in May. Our friends at the Lexington Bourbon Society are hosting a Zoom Party to celebrate Derby Day and also to help Old Friends and our 200+ retired horses, including 1997 Kentucky Derby-Preakness champion Silver Charm.

There are 50 spaces left to join this event. For every ticket sold, $10 will be donated to Old Friends.  Here are all the details:

What:
Pop-up Derby-In-Place Zoom Party

When:
Saturday, May 2nd 3-6 PM EST (Zoom portion 4:30-6)

Where:
The comfort of your own home

How:
$10 donation paid directly to Old Friends via eventbrite, with your confirmation email from the donation containing your unique Zoom login credentials.
(tickets: derby-in-place.eventbrite.com)

Who:
The first 50 people to complete their donation and receive their login details.

Why:
To support the wonderful work of the fine folks at Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Farm.

The Lexington Bourbon Society has teamed up with Michter’s Distillery, ubercapper.com, and Lexington’s Wine+market to bring fans a fantastic solution to the 146th Kentucky Derby being moved from the First Saturday in May to Saturday, September 5.

Saturday, May 2nd, NBC Sports will present a virtual Kentucky Derby at Home Party, which includes “The First Saturday In May: American Pharoah’s Run to the Triple Crown”, a look back at American Pharoah’s 2015 Derby win en route to his historic Triple Crown, and “The Kentucky Derby: Triple Crown Showdown”, a socially distant, computer-simulated edition of the Run for the Roses that pits all 13 Triple Crown winners against each other. (full details:  kentuckyderby.com/party)

While you have this broadcast on the television, we will host a zoom.us gathering starting at 4:30 that will include Michter’s schwag giveaways, Derby hat/fascinator/outfit contest, interactive Mint Julep demonstration and recipe, drawing for a private tour for two at Old Friends with Board President Michael Blowen, some fun “wagering”, and live handicapping of the Triple Crown Showdown by syndicated Thoroughbred handicapper Elis Starr (@Ubercapper) and more!

We will post a Zoom tutorial with dos and don’ts to ensure a smooth, enjoyable experience for all attending in the comments.

For more information, visit www.oldfriendsequine.org.

Hats Off to the Horses 2020 Continues with the Slim Shadey Chapeau

Dagmar Steiner and Slim Shadey at Old Friends (Photo: Laura Battles)

GEORGETOWN, KY – APRIL 3, 2020 –  The annual “Hats Off to the Horses: The Road to the Derby” online fashion auction continues this week with a new Derby-style chapeau going on the virtual block to raise money for Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement Facility in Georgetown, KY.

This is the 11th consecutive year that Old Friends has joined with acclaimed milliner Sally Faith Steinmann of the Massachusetts-based Maggie Mae Designs® to auction off four handcrafted Derby hats between January and April, each inspired by one of the non-profit organization’s 200-plus retired racehorses. To date this online fundraiser has garnered nearly $40,000 for Old Friends.

This new hat was inspired by graded stakes winner Slim Shadey, and it is showcased here by equine artist Dagmar Galleithner-Steiner.

The hat will be up for bid for 10 days only from 8 pm (EST) April 1st through 8 pm (EST) on April 11th. Interested bidders can go to the Old Friends website at www.oldfriendsequine.org and follow the link, or CLICK HERE to visit our eBay page.

To read more and to view additional images of the hat, CLICK HERE.

About the Horse

A two-time graded-stakes winner, Slim Shadey — by 2001 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Val Royal (FR) out of the Chief’s Crown mare Vino Veritas — was bred in Great Britain by Phil Cunningham and spent two seasons racing throughout England and Ireland. He made his U.S. debut for Cunningham and trainer Simon Callaghan in 2012 at Santa Anita, kicking off what was to become his banner season.

In February of 2012 Slim captured his first graded stakes, the Grade 2 San Marco at Santa Anita (a race he would capture again in 2013). Then, in September, Slim took the top spot in the Grade 2 John Henry Turf Championship, which served as a stepping stone to a run in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf where he finished 8th (a few lengths behind the winner, Old Friends retiree Little Mike). By 2014, the now 6-year-old Slim began a series of claims. In 2018 Slim was claimed by owner Michael Hui for trainer Mike Maker.  After a series of unsuccessful starts for his new connections, the time finally came for Slim to hang up his racing plates.

About the Hat

Since Slim raced for several different stables Steinmann used a combination of his pink, black, and white silks for the trimmings of this stunning Derby hat.

A large foundation was created using a base layer of soft pink dupioni silk. The brim was then trimmed with a single layer of pink silk organza ruffle, which allows the light to pass through the sheer fabric. A fancy black braiding was top stitched where the silk layer meets the brim edge. To further showcase racing silk colors, a large rose curl, created out of alternating layers of pink dupioni silk and white silk organza, adorns the front of the hat.

For the final touches, a medley of black and white silk organza “feathers” were added, a black satin sash encircles the crown, and a black pebble button edged in gold adorns the sash in the back.

The hat is stunning from every angle and measures approximately 21 inches end to end. The lining for the “Slim Shadey” was done is a soft pink satin to coordinate with the floral trim.

As a physical remembrance, several strands of Slim’s tail hair have been braided and woven into the trim.

Our thanks go out to artist Dagmar Steiner for helping with this year’s “Hats Off to the Horses” and also to Old Friends volunteer and photographer Laura Battles for her stunning images.

Bidding on the “Slim Shadey is open now.

For more information about Old Friends, see their website at www.oldfriendsequine.org or call the farm at (502) 863-1775.

Maggie Mae Designs® Custom Millinery offers magnificent hats for all occasions, from glamorous racing events such as the Kentucky Derby and the Royal Ascot to stunning bridal wear and handsome cocktail fashions. Every hat is carefully handcrafted by milliner Sally Faith Steinmann from her home base in South Harwich, MA. Salons of her fashions can be seen on her website at www.maggiemaedesigns.com.

MEDIA CONTACT: Cynthia Grisolia, (347) 423-7322, cindy@oldfriendsequine.org; Maggie Mae Designs (508) 430-1626, sally@maggiemae.com

Old Friends Debuts Virtual Tours

GEORGETOWN, KY – MARCH 30 2020 –  Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement Facility in Kentucky, debuted the first in a series of Virtual Farm Tours that will enable fans to continue to access the non-profit organization’s 100-plus equine retirees at its Georgetown location during the COVID-19 quarantine.

The series, dubbed “Monday Mornings with Michael”, is hosted by Old Friends founder Michael Blowen and will offer short visits with a few equine retirees each week. They will be posted on Old Friends social media platforms on Monday mornings and will also be available via their website and YouTube channel.

The first video showcases Old Friends’ oldest retires, multiple stakes winner Dinard, who is 32, and one-time claimer Archie’s Echo, who is 31.

You can see it on YouTube by CLICKING HERE.

For more information, visit www.oldfriendsequine.org.

MEDIA CONTACT: Cynthia Grisolia, (502) 863-1775, cindy@oldfriendsequine.org; or Barbara Fossum, (502) 863-1775, barbara@oldfriendsequine.org