Photon and Rail Trip racing for carrots. Photo © Laura Battles.
We’re just a few days away from the first Saturday in May and virtually every entry has an Old Friends connection. Creator, who shares his name with our great European Gr. 1 winner, was ridden by Cash Asmussen. Steve Asmussen, Cash’s brother, trains the American Creator. Bob Baffert with Mor Spirit is one of our most generous, supportive friends and trained our two Derby winners, Silver Charm (1997) and War Emblem (2002). We have retirees ridden by John Velasquez (Commentator), Gary Stevens (Silver Charm), Mike Smith (Game On Dude), and Victor Espinoza (War Emblem). The list goes on and on.
And while I agree that the Kentucky Derby is the most exciting two minutes in sports, these great athletes’ lives go on for many, more years. That’s where Old Friends and all the other Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance organizations come in handy. Whether it’s Lusty Latin or Easy Grades, both well-beaten by War Emblem, or precocious horses such as Dinard, Afternoon Deelites and Wallenda, who were all Derby candidates, we treat them all the same. We are honored to care for them well beyond their three-year-old years. Sometimes, like Derby contender Gulch, they live into their early 30s. So when the gates open at Churchill Downs on Saturday, and we all hold our collective breaths, I’ll be thinking of the hundreds of Saturdays that many of them will be with us. Because to me, at Old Friends, every day is as exciting as the run for the roses. Except now, they’re running for carrots.
We hope you can attend our 12th Annual Homecoming Event May 8th, the day after Derby here on the farm. Many thanks to all of our supporters and volunteers.