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Silver Charm and Sandy Hatfield emerge from the quarantine barn to greet fans and admirers of the stallion at his Old Friends open house. (All photos by Melissa Bauer-Herzog)
Sold to Japan in 2004 after standing at Three Chimneys Farm for five years, it was promised that when 1997 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner Silver Charm retired from breeding, he would return to live out his days in Kentucky.
On Dec. 1, that promise was fulfilled when the gray stallion arrived at Old Friends Equine in Georgetown, Ky. to live out the rest of his life.
“As you know, I’ve been trying to do this for a long, long time,” said Michael Blowen, Old Friends founder. “Then about a month and a half ago, [Three Chimneys Stallion Manager] Sandy Hatfield called me up and she says ‘You’ve got room at your farm for an old, gray stallion?’ and I go ‘Oh my God.’ I couldn’t tell anybody so I got on the golf cart, drove it to the back of the farm, and ran around like an idiot because I didn’t know what else to do, I couldn’t tell anybody.”
While the stallion will be in quarantine for about three weeks at Old Friends, the retirement farm allowed fans to have a chance to greet the now-20-year-old stallion the day after he arrived.
The chilly Tuesday didn’t stop many fans from coming out to Old Friends to see Silver Charm, who was paraded around a dry lot near the quarantine barn by Hatfield. Many comments were made about how great the stallion looked after his long journey.
SILVER CHARM POSES FOR FANS
Silver Charm had been on the road for nearly a week, flying from Japan to Chicago with a layover in Anchorage, Alaska. After spending four days in Chicago at Arlington Park’s quarantine facility, he was shipped down to Kentucky by Sallee Horse Vans.
“He looked fabulous [when he came off the van]. He’s the fifth one we’ve brought home from Japan and he looked the best by far,” Blowen said. “It can take a lot of out of them. You know, if they get dehydrated on the plane, it’s a rough trip. It’s not exactly a lot of fun for them, I’m sure. But he came back the best of all. I mean, he came off the trailer looking like he still could breed, still could run, still could do whatever he wanted, he’s beautiful.”
The stallion is going through the quarantine process at Old Friends now. He will be in quarantine at the farm for about three weeks, which includes having to test breed two mares at Rood and Riddle and go through different tests every day to make sure he is fully healthy.
“Some of the horses we only have to have for three weeks but he’s a stallion and there’s all these regulations… He’s got to be test bred to two mares, he’ll be doing that over at Rood and Riddle for us,” said Blowen. “There’s all these things, they have to test them every day. There are all these protocols that you have to go through ... I told them ‘We’re not going to breed this stallion, I mean what difference does it make?’ but they’re not going to change the rule just for us.”
Silver Charm joins an all star cast of retired racehorses that have moved to Old Friends in recent months. The group includes champion sprinter Amazombie, multiple Grade 1 winner Game On Dude, multiple Grade 1 winner Daytona, and Chilian Group 1 winner Porfido.
Silver Charm’s move to Old Friends is even more fitting as it was the home to his dam Bonnie’s Poker after she was retired from breeding duties. The late mare is buried in Old Friends’ cemetery and the farm has been working on securing Silver Charm’s move to Old Friends for many years.
“To me the great thing about [bringing Silver Charm back to Kentucky] is just that it is a great example of team work,” said Blowen. “It’s a great example of the Japanese Bloodstock Breeders Association, the Lewises [who owned Silver Charm throughout his racing career and early breeding career] paid for everything and they set him up with an endowment every year to take care of him. They are very excited about it. Three Chimneys, of course, was fabulous in doing all of this, the transportation people, the people at IRT.”
To learn more about Old Friends Equine and to stay up to date on when Silver Charm will be released from quarantine, visit www.oldfriendsequine.com.
SILVER CHARM RETURNS TO KENTUCKY