Silver Charm didn't turn a hair at moving from Japan back to Kentucky. (Photos by Melissa Bauer-Herzog)
The 20th anniversary of the Dubai World Cup promises to be a huge event on March 28, with some of the top stars turning out for the race. But the 20th anniversary isn’t the only important part of the date as this year’s edition of the race will be exactly 17 years since dual classic winner Silver Charm won the race in 1998.
Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Silver Charm was retired in 1999 and started his first year as a breeding stallion in 2000 before moving to Japan in late 2004. But in late 2014, Silver Charm was back on United States soil after he was pensioned from stud duty and sent to Old Friends Equine in Georgetown, Ky., arriving on Dec. 2. The now-21-year-old stallion quickly settled into his new home without any problems.
“Silver Charm’s settled in here like he’s lived here his whole life,” said Michael Blowen, the founder and president of Old Friends Equine. “I have a feeling he’s always been like this. I was talking to [Three Chimneys Farm’s Stallion Manager] Sandy Hatfield, who had him over at Three Chimneys and she said he’s always been like that. … We bring him in at night and you could lead him in with dental floss, he’ll follow you right around. He [walks right in front of] that front window, right across my front yard and right into the barn. It’s so thrilling to watch him just look or stand there, just look around and survey everything.”
BLOWEN WITH SILVER CHARM
In just the few months that Silver Charm has been at Old Friends, Blowen and the staff have already learned quite a bit about their new charge, from his personality to how he likes his carrots cut.
“He’s just very, very special. He was my favorite racehorse on the track and I suppose if Game On Dude wasn’t here, he’d be my favorite horse here,” Blowen said. “Silver Charm is very nice but he knows who he is and he’s not going to suck up to you. I’ve learned that he loves his carrots chopped a certain way. It makes them easier to chew and that’s the most important thing. Every day that goes by, there’s always some little thing [I learn about him].”
SILVER CHARM AT OLD FRIENDS
The winter weather that hit Kentucky over the last few months has shown Blowen how popular Silver Charm is with fans, especially when colder temperatures and snow blew into the area. He said that even the weather didn’t stop fans from checking on the horse and in some cases even coming out to visit him, bundled in blankets provided by Old Friends so they could stay warm. While those cold days didn’t attract huge crowds, Blowen says that Old Friends will be welcoming busloads of people to meet Silver Charm during major Kentucky race days this year.
“We already have 300 or 400 people signed up for tours around Breeders’ Cup and we have at least that many signed up for the Derby. People call me up and say ‘You’ve got Silver Charm in your barn?” and everyone wants to tell you a great story like ‘I bet on that horse’ or ‘he was always my favorite horse,’ and that’s what makes it fun, because you’re always interacting with people who love the horses and love the farm so it’s really an oasis for humans too,” he said.
As for Blowen’s feelings about being able to see Silver Charm every day? It is very special to the man who has helped so many horses.
“There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not grateful to have Silver Charm. As I said, we tried for six years to get him because he’s my favorite horse and he’s done so much for racing, not just for winning those races but when he was going for the Triple Crown in 1997… he gave racing a tremendous boost,” Blowen said. “HRTV sent me this great video of his big races and I sit there at night sometimes and I watch him win the Dubai World Cup, the Kentucky Derby and then I look out the window and there he is. It freaks me out. It’s just nuts having him here, to have a horse like that who fits the bill.”
For more information on how to schedule a tour at Old Friends, you can visit www.oldfriendsequine.org/tours.html.