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Handicapping - Pedigree - History - Dosage

More Kentucky Farm Tales

Autumn 2021

For as long as I can remember, the changing weather from Winter to Spring had always been the most anticipated and favorite time of my year. It was the most beautiful backdrop to the weeks leading up to the Kentucky Derby, which, in my eyes, had always been the highlight of the entire year. That feeling has not been the same as of late. Watching them run their races is one thing, but standing in front of them is a completely different ballgame. With Fall now as the backdrop, nothing compares to the anticipation of pulling into a Kentucky farm and knowing what is standing behind its gates.

There are two sides to this sport that we love. We have the racing side which entails hard work in handicapping, nerves, second-guessing, sleepless nights, post parades, the bell, the break, the bias, the excitement and the let-downs. All wrapped up in two minutes of heart-pounding euphoria or complete defeat. The other side is simply the Horse. This side entails peacefulness, beauty, calmness and awe. It puts everything in perspective and renders the race side almost insignificant. Nothing compares to the absolute beauty of a 1500 pound champion thoroughbred when he bows his head directly in front of you and eats from your hand. The feeling is indescribable.

This time, the farm that stole the show was Jonabell Farm - Godolphin. From the moment the gates swung open and I drove up that tree-lined road to the parking area, all the way through to the bitter end, I was in a complete trance of amazement. The magnificent rooms, the photos, the trophies, the landscape, all so well done. The shining moment of the entire trip was hanging out with Nyquist while he was being bathed after talking to Medaglia D'Oro as Hard Spun and Street Sense walked by. Yes, that is how I spent a lovely Wednesday Afternoon in October. Needless to say, the photos from Jonabell are fantastic but I certainly missed so many moments with the camera. I felt as if I was spinning in 20 different directions to get it all in. Unfortunately, I missed quite a few photos while at Jonabell which means I will just need to go back!

First Stop: LANE'S END

Honor Code

Wiser this year, I opted for the walking tour as opposed to the shuttle tour. I knew before walking in that there could be a possibility of disappointment but I couldn't step foot in Kentucky without seeing Honor Code and Honor A.P. The risk paid off - in spades.

Honor A.P.

This time, I took too many photos so I uploaded them in video form for each of the places I toured. At Lanes End, there were so many sires to see. Quite a difference between the walking tour and the shuttle tour. This time, I saw Honor Code, Honor A.P., Unified, Gift Box, Union Rags, Accelerate, Candy Ride, Twirling Candy, Mineshaft, West Coast and so many others.

Honor A.P. was not in the mood for visitors, so the only photos I could get of him were with his back turned. He wanted no parts of anything and he let us know it. There was one other guy who stole my heart that day. Catalina Cruiser. He was so handsome and quite a character.

Towards the very end of the tour, I skated away from the group and down the dirt path to grab a few more minutes alone with Honor Code. He was asleep but he knew I was there. A most memorable 5 minutes. It was quite the day at Lane's End.


This was the most beautiful farm I have seen to date. There was a certain feel in the air that was along the lines of grandeur and excellence - something that is very hard to describe. It is just simply something that must be felt. The "royalty" in the barns was quite a feast for the eyes. I could have spent hours there just wandering from stall to stall, tree to tree and room to room. The entire tour flew by in an instant and it is hard to remember all that I had seen.

After touring the inside rooms and paying respect to Affirmed and Street Cry, we ventured around the corner of the building where Hard Spun happened to be walking by and that is how it all began. I tried to snap as many photos as possible, but I certainly missed a ton. There was so much going on all around me that I couldn't keep up. It was simply spectacular.

There was an empty stall where Bernardini once stood. Unfortunately, he passed away just a couple months ago and that was very sad. But I saw his trophies and you could tell, the farm missed him very much. Street Sense looked as if he was ready for a gate in a Graded Stakes race. He was gorgeous. Jonabell Farm was top-notch and a definite must see if you ever decide to make the trip.


This stop left me with mixed feelings. On the one hand, the tour guide was very nice, very informative and that aspect was quite enjoyable. It did not help that I was the only person on that tour. Just me, nobody else. I felt a bit strange from the beginning for some reason even though it was nice to have the horses to myself. Even though the concept behind New Vocations is fantastic, it just left me feeling a bit sad and I cannot tell you why. It just did. Most of the occupants were there because they either never made money for their connections or they simply no longer could. Discarded to an extent but hopefully off to new pastures in a short time.

I remember just a couple of guys from the entire tour. Money Moves, Morzo and the one that really choked me up - Medal Count. He came in 8th place in the 2014 Kentucky Derby. Seeing Medal Count simply reminded me of Dance with Fate, which made me even more depressed than I already was. I did not take many photos from this place, but I had a nice time feeding these guys. I am not sure that I would ever return here but I will donate to the cause when I can. This video is really not that great and I only took a few photos of the horses who I connected with. My heart was broken when I got into that car and I still don't have the answer as to why. It was not quite as "uplifting" as the other tours.

Fourth Stop: OLD FRIENDS

When I pulled into the parking lot at Old Friends, it began to rain and it did not let up the entire time I was there. But that did not deter the day. I can not remember the names all of the great horses that I saw there, it remains a complete blur. But one thing I do remember very clearly is PATCH, the one-eyed sentimental favorite in the 2017 Kentucky Derby. When we began the tour, we were all handed a large bag of cut up carrots so that we could feed each of the residents in their paddocks. Well, Patch received basically my entire bag. He was in a paddock with Game on Dude and as I fed him, Dude kept trying to get one and I tried but Patch was having none of it. Every time I tried, Patch would slam Game on Dude out of the way. I felt so bad and I kept trying but to no avail. Patch wanted every carrot I had and he just would not allow his mate even one. I complied with his wishes!

As wet and muddy as I was and left with only a handful of carrots, I ventured onward and met Touch Gold, Silver Charm, Alphabet Soup, Bellamy Road and many others that I just can't remember. I do recall feeding the last of my carrots to Silver Max, the horse who stole Wise Dan's 2013 undefeated record. Extremely remarkable day with Patch stealing the show.


The weather still did not want to cooperate and it poured rain from the moment I pulled into the parking spot all the way through the tour, into the night, continued constantly the next morning and the entire drive home. Never saw so much rain but it was okay. Claiborne was still fantastic even though Orb and Algorithms were absent. This time, the first new sire I saw was War of Will as they took him out of his stall and he walked straight towards me. What a sight. I snapped as many photos as I could but the battery was dying (of course!) and most all the photos from this farm were a bit blurry.

Claiborne Farm will never cease to amaze me mainly because of it's rich history, the lost champions who spent their days there and the giants that were conceived in that breeder's shed. It is such a beautiful place that must be seen to appreciate. Looking forward to the Spring when I know I will return to spend some time with the horses that I love.

2020 Kentucky Trip - The Tale of Two Farms


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