A day with Silver Charm with the oldest surviving winner of the Kentucky derby

GEORGETHON, KITCHEN – The winner of the Kentucky derby on the route, Silver Charm, was known for its photo shoot.

Twenty-five years later, he is a master of selfies.

The Gray Shepherd, who won in 1997 In the Rose Race, he knows how to smile at the camera when tour groups come to see him at Georgetown’s Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Farms, just as he knew how to walk on the road. He was never a racehorse who jumped in front of a crowd, but he seldom allowed an opponent to pass him.

And in honor of his 25th birthday in the Kentucky derby, I spent some time with Silver Charm earlier this year to see how his golden years treat him. The 28-year-old purebred is the oldest winner in the Kentucky derby. In 1999, BloodHorse magazine listed the 100 Greatest Horses of the 20th Century as the last living member of the class.

When I went to Silver Charm’s birthday party in early March, he was firmly in the lead as the third Derby winner. But with the recent departure of Grindstone և Goy Gin, who won the 1996 և 1994 Kentucky derby, respectively, Silver Charm had moved on to become the oldest champion by a few weeks.

1997  The winner of the Kentucky Derby's practice, Silver Charm, comes out of his pasture at Old Friends Farm in Georgetown, Kentucky.  March 4, 2022

1997 The winner of the Kentucky Derby’s practice, Silver Charm, comes out of his pasture at Old Friends Farm in Georgetown, Kentucky. March 4, 2022

Michael Blowen, co-founder of Old Friends, says the best way to equate a horse’s age with a human’s is to multiply it by three to add eight, which makes our friend Silver Charm 92 years old. Whether or not Blowen says Silver Sharm is as healthy as when he arrived on the farm in 2015, the 25th anniversary of his victory is as good a time for everyone to celebrate his career as it is to spend some quality time. him.

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Breeding Silver Charm was no surprise, but he won 12 of his 24 starts, finishing second seven times and third twice. He won the 1997 Kentucky Derby at the Prague Stakes, barely missing the Triple Crown by three quarters when he finished second at the Belmont Stakes. He was coached by the infamous Bob Buffert, owned by Robert Burley Lewis, who adored him so much that he was left with a kind of trust. That cash brought him home from Japan, where he went to study և $ 10,000 a year for his welfare at Old Friends as he returned to the United States.

He has raised about $ 7 million during his racing career, but now that he is retiring, he is more concerned with the 22-pound chopped carrot he fills with his remaining four teeth each week than anything else.

Old Friends Farm founder Michael Blown receives a morning kiss from the 28-year-old Kentucky derby և Preakness winner Silver Charm.  March 4, 2022

Old Friends Farm founder Michael Blown receives a morning kiss from the 28-year-old Kentucky derby և Preakness winner Silver Charm. March 4, 2022

The first thing to know about Silver Charm, beyond its extremely impressive racing record, is that it enjoys its daily routine.

Every day he is released from his pavilion and entered his board at 7 o’clock in the morning. It is there that he spends most of his waking hours mumbling the quiet grass. If you call him և he recognizes your voice, the champion can approach և greet you at the fence.

Do not try to stroke his nose, however, touching is one of the biggest bites of his pets.

I made that mistake on a cold March day when I decided to visit with him. As he approached the fence, I reached out to caress him, and he would not let me.

No. That was not what he wanted.

Then he turned around, went back to his grass, and ignored me, until a few minutes later, when Bloon got on the golf cart.

“What’s the matter with you, Antonio?” Blown shouted as one of the workers tossed a bucket of carrots into a small bowl next to the fence.

Silver Charm did not have to say it twice.

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The champion ran to the fence, I saw him poke his mouth into some chopped carrots, molasses and some food.

He has his priorities, Blow told me with a laugh.

Carrots and grass are at the top of the list.

1997  The winner of the Kentucky Derby's practice, Silver Charm, grazes on his pasture at Old Friends Farm in Georgetown, Kentucky.  March 4, 2022

1997 The winner of the Kentucky Derby’s practice, Silver Charm, grazes on his pasture at Old Friends Farm in Georgetown, Kentucky. March 4, 2022

He happily greets tour groups at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and even during his retirement he still shows.

“He knows selfies,” said Blow. “She knows where the camera is. He knows how to take a stand. It’s amazing to watch. “It’s really, really amazing to see how he understands how he does it.”

However, in general, Silver Charm does not do much. The winner of the Kentucky Derby is happiest when he is alone or surrounded by people he knows. In his younger years, Blown, now 75, jumped the fence and Silver Charm would run with him.

Not surprisingly, the winner of the Kentucky derby always won.

“Besides, the more you leave these horses alone, the happier they will be,” Blow said of the many purebreds he cares for at Old Friends.

“He has managed to trust the people on the farm. He knows they will allow him to return to his booth every day. At 4pm, the lights on the nearby highway make him angry,” said some of them. So Silver Charm is much happier at its booth in the evening.

In fact, he claims that.

1997  The winner of the Kentucky Derby's practice, Silver Charm, comes out of his pasture at Old Friends Farm in Georgetown, Kentucky.  March 4, 2022

1997 The winner of the Kentucky Derby’s practice, Silver Charm, comes out of his pasture at Old Friends Farm in Georgetown, Kentucky. March 4, 2022

Just before 4 pm, he goes to the gate, turns his head towards the barn, and waits for someone to enter at night.

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Silver Charm gives you a five-minute grace period before it lets the whole farm know about it. If he spends a lot of time, he will take the hoof and hit it on the handrail, like a tin cup hitting the bars of an old cell.

“He communicates things very well in a very simple way,” Bowen told me.

That’s part of what made him such an incredible racehorse,:’s really part of why Blown was drawn to him in the first place.

The Silver Charm & # 39;  responds when a woman shakes her head at a 28-year-old horse at Old Friends Farm in Georgetown, Kentucky.  February 22, 2022

The Silver Charm echoes when a woman shakes her head at a 28-year-old horse at Old Friends Farm in Georgetown, Kentucky. February 22, 2022

He is not just a fast horse. Silver Charm’s mind is unmatched. He knows when to rest, he knows how to deal with the flow.

Then Blow told me a story when Silver Charm ran the Dubai World Cup in 1998. The derby champion had run more than 7,000 miles to race, but a few hours before the race he seemed to be fast asleep.

The staff thought he was disoriented. They thought he would not win in any way.

What Silver Charm was really doing, though, was relaxing and conserving energy, yes, he did bring home the World Cup.

Blow swears that the mind is deeper than just taking care of himself. He claims that Silver Charm knows the difference between being called “the greatest horse in the history of the universe” and “the greatest horse in the history of the world.”

He will weaken to be the king of the universe.

The world alone, however, is simply not good enough for him.

As for that, however, what Blowen really admires about Silver Charm more than anything else is his attitude.

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Silver Charm, winner of the 27-year-old Kentucky Derby և Preakness Stakes, grazes on Old Friends Farm in a clean-up nursing home in Georgetown, Kentucky.  April 12, 2020

Silver Charm, winner of the 27-year-old Kentucky Derby և Preakness Stakes, grazes on Old Friends Farm in a clean-up nursing home in Georgetown, Kentucky. April 12, 2020

When Silver Charm arrived at Old Friends 2015, it came out of the trailer calmly and cold-heartedly. He never panicked. He just went for a change, as if he had always been here.

This Kentucky derby champion does not allow him to worry too much, said Bowen. It’s rolling with the changes, that’s part of what made it such a successful horse racing season.

This helped ease his retirement, even from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Old Friends Farm. It made the twilight of his life so enjoyable.

“The last furlong is the most exciting part of the race,” said Blow. “They turn their heads, here’s the finish line. They can see it,: that’s when the race becomes interesting. Then everything starts to happen. That’s what happens to me,: that’s what’s happening to him. “

Columnist Maggie Menderski writes about what makes Louisville, South Indiana և Kentucky unique, wonderful, sometimes a little weird. If you have something in your family, in your city, or even in your closet that fits this description, he or she wants to hear from you. Welcome to mmenderski@courier-journal.com or 502-582-4053. Follow on Instagram և Twitter @MaggieMenderski.

This article originally appeared in the Louisville Courier Journal. Meet the oldest surviving winner of the Kentucky derby, Silver Charm.

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