Patch, the one-eyed son of Union Rags who caught the attention of fans worldwide on the 2017 Road to the Kentucky Derby, has been retired and will take up residence at Old Friends Equine, the facility’s founder Michael Blowen confirmed Jan. 10.
Old Friends is a world-renowned retirement home for Thoroughbreds with a main location near Georgetown, Ky., and a satellite facility in New York. Blowen said Patch is spending a short time at Park Equine Hospital as part of his transition from the racetrack to farm life. Patch raced for owner-breeder Calumet Farm, the historic property in central Kentucky that has been leased by Brad Kelley since 2012.
"We're very excited about Patch," Blowen said. "Last week, I got a call from Eddie Kane over at Calumet, and he said that Mr. Kelley said to call us and see if we'd like to have Patch at the farm."
Bred in Kentucky by Calumet Farm out of the A.P. Indy mare Windyindy, Patch lost his left eye due to a mysterious ailment when he was a 2-year-old. Undaunted, he went on to finish second in the 2017 Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby and rebounded from a 14th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby to run third in the Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets behind Tapwrit and Irish War Cry. He last ran fourth in the Birdstone Stakes in August at Saratoga Race Course and was retired at age 6 with a 2-2-2 record from 14 starts and $532,450 in earnings.
Blowen said Patch is undergoing an evaluation at Park Equine Hospital near Versailles, Ky., as part of his intake protocol.
"What we do now is, when we get stallions in particular, they go to Park first as part of our acclimation program," Blowen explained. "Park goes through all the physical stuff to make sure they're OK, and then when we get the stamp of approval from Park, he'll come on over. My guess is he'll be here in a week or so. It takes a lot of pressure off. We're really grateful to both Calumet and to John Park in particular."
Blowen said he is also looking forward to the arrival of another fan favorite, two-time Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint winner and 2018 champion turf male Stormy Liberal. The 8-year-old Stormy Atlantic gelding is expected to arrive from Florida in the coming weeks.
"They're going to be great additions to the farm," Blowen said. "I go gaga over these horses. People always want to come back and visit again, and it's nice when they get to see some of the old guys along with the new guys."