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Commentator - off to Old Friends!

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  • Commentator - off to Old Friends!

    Very nice and I'll get to see him while in Lexington next week for the opening day and weekend of Keeneland's fall meet!!

    BloodHorse 10-2-09 "Commentator Going to Old Friends"

    Tracy and Carol Farmer have chosen Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Farm in Georgetown, Ky., as the permanent home for two-time Whitney Handicap (gr. I) winner Commentator, it was announced Oct. 2.

    The 8-year-old gelding is currently at Mike Evans’ Sheltowee Farm in Versailles, Ky., and will be shipped to the 92-acre Georgetown facility on Oct. 4.

    Campaigned for six seasons by the Farmers and trainer Nick Zito, Commentator ended his career in August having won 14 of 24 starts and a bankroll of $2,049,845. In addition to his victories in the Whitney, he captured Gulfstream Park’s Richter Scale Handicap (gr. II) and the Massachusetts Handicap at Suffolk Downs, which he won by 14 lengths. He also set two track records.

    Of his 14 career victories, Commentator’s narrowest margin of victory was a neck, when he went wire-to-wire to defeat eventual Horse of the Year Saint Liam in the 2005 Whitney. In six of his wins he triumphed by 10 lengths or more.

    His last race–an attempt to match the three-time Whitney win records set by Kelso and Discovery–resulted in a third-place finish.

    Commentator was bred in New York by Michael Martinez and is out of the Storm Bird mare Ousource.

    “I think they do a great job, and we’re going to be helping them however we can,” said Tracy Farmer of Old Friends. “And not just for Commentator, but for other horses too. My wife, Carol, and I want a place for horses such as Commentator to retire, and we want (Old Friends) to be very successful. Michael Blowen just does a terrific job.”

    Said Blowen: “I am overwhelmed by both the trust and generosity Mr. and Mrs. Farmer has shown toward Old Friends. To have a great athlete like Commentator with his huge fan base come to Old Friends is like having Elvis in the building.

    “I also want to thank Nick Zito for keeping this horse in such remarkable condition. Commentator is retiring perfectly sound, and that alone is a testament to his great training and care over the years.”

    Blowen noted that Farmer will also be donating stallion seasons in many of his great breeders to support Commentator and the more than 70 Thoroughbreds cared for by Old Friends.

    On Oct. 20, Old Friends will hold a special celebration called “Jockey Day.” Many of the jocks that rode Old Friends retirees and the newly arrived Commentator will serve as the special guests. Expected attendees include the Farmers, Calvin Borel, Kent Desormeaux, Jon Court, Chris McCarron, Jean Cruguet, Randy Romero, and Bobby Ussery, among many others.

  • #2
    I was so excited to hear this yesterday. A wonderful situation for a fantastic horse


    • #3
      I had the great pleasure (thanks to a COTHer with passes!) to see Commentator dominate the MassCap and it was brilliant (and my program weren't packed away I'd give the name of the gorgeous colt Nick Zito brought up for one of the undercard races) and it was thrilling. I hope he has a long and lazy retirement at Old Friends.
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      • #4
        Are you referring to Palmer's Approach? They had 3 or 4 in that day, but Palmer had a dominating win that day.


        • #5
          Great horse with wonderful owners - a fitting retirement home for this horse...So nice to hear Commentator will be at Old Friends.


          • #6
            Don't remember, but he was clearly the class of the field--it was early in the day, too. I see he's a chestnut so that was probably him.
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            • #7
              "To have a great athlete like Commentator with his huge fan base come to Old Friends is like having Elvis in the building."

              Love it!!
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              • #8
                Yup that was Palmer

                Kim was so thrilled when he won


                • Original Poster

                  I visited Old Friends today and got to pet Commentator and give him some carrots. I can report he is looking great - already a bit of a coat - and is happily enjoying retired life there in Georgetown. He can be a slight nipper but compared to others adjusting he's not that aggressive.

                  Per Michael Blowen, owners M/M Tracy Farmer provided him along with a very substantial amount of money. So he is not only an (already large) draw for fans, but he's not costing O.F. anything extra. While most horses are there sans any funds in hand there are a few horses with annual funds from prior connections giving money for support. Blowen is as the articles have all said very passionate about O.F. and the horses there. He was particularly choked up when speaking about Precisionist and in fact couldn't continue speaking about his passing.

                  Black Tie Affair who only came to O.F. this summer sadly looks like he's in very rough shape. I'm blown away he was still doing stud duty last year! He gets weekly acupuncture, but is so stiff from arthritis that moving a few feet in his stall was clearly a struggle. He goes out daily for 6+ hours with a small shetland pony (that Blowen picked up in MA destined for slaughter) named Silver Charm.

                  As for Lava Man I asked and the plan is still that he will come to Old Friends per the connections of STD Racing at the end of whatever is in store. That is either one (or more) more starts or never returning to the races again.

                  I'd recommend anyone in Lexington to drive up to Old Friends and spending a couple of hours viewing some great old horses.


                  • #10
                    I'm so glad to hear he's looking well! Huge Kudos to the Farmers... what a wonderful asset they are to racing.

                    I was just going through my pictures from the MassCap '08, and found this shot of Commentator being a star in the winner's circle - he had a huge crowd of people with him, and was just super about it all.


                    • #11
                      Isn't Old Friends great? I love that you can bona fide meet the horses there, give them some carrots and a pat if you dare, rather than just view them through stall bars.

                      Originally posted by AppJumpr08 View Post
                      I was just going through my pictures from the MassCap '08, and found this shot of Commentator being a star in the winner's circle - he had a huge crowd of people with him, and was just super about it all.
                      Aww, MassCap day.

                      That was quite the crowd around C right in the winner's circle, and all things considered he really was quite good about everything. I do distinctly recall, though, Johnny V's expression quickly becoming one of "you've got about 10 seconds to get a shot with this blanket of carnations before he blows!"


                      • #12
                        Thank you Glimmer for posting about your visit. Mr. Blowen seems very compassionate about his retirees, so nice to hear!
                        I hope to make it out there sometime too...


                        • Original Poster

                          As an aside: per the Saratogian newspaper there will be NY-based variation of Old Friends

                          JoAnn and Mark Pepper have developed 40 acres in Greenfield for the purpose, and hope to open "Old Friends New York" next spring.

                          Their venture has the support of Michael Blowen, president of Old Friends in Kentucky.

                          JoAnn, who has racetrack experience, and Mark have built an immaculate and spacious 12-stall barn on the property.

                          There are also five paddocks and two round pens at the facility.

                          "This is the first thing I have felt extremely comfortable with," said JoAnn, who credits Blowen and Old Friends Kentucky for increasing public awareness of the need for racehorse retirement homes.

                          JoAnn will soon be seeking input from fans and the racing community for horses in need.

                          She welcomes your ideas via e-mail at cabincreek4(at)hotmail.com


                          • Original Poster

                            More details on the NY-arm of the Old Friends retirement organization

                            BloodHorse 11-18-09: "Old Friends Satellite Opens in NY"


                            Cabin Creek, a 40-acre farm just outside Saratoga Springs, N.Y., near Greenfield Center, will begin receiving horses immediately. An official opening and celebration is planned for July 22, 2010.

                            The auxiliary space will be named in honor of trainer Bobby Frankel, who died Nov. 16 after a battle with leukemia. A native New Yorker, Frankel was a long supporter of the Old Friends mission. The farm will formally be known as Old Friends at Cabin Creek: The Bobby Frankel Division.
                            The first resident, Moonshadow Gold, a 10-year-old New York-bred gelding acquired through the efforts of several equine-welfare advocates, will arrive later this week.

                            The property will be leased by Old Friends (Michael Blowen, president), a non-profit organization, which will continue to control all acquisitions and financials.


                            • #15
                              That is wonderful news!

                              Michael Blowen is such a huge asset to the racing world. (as are wonderful people like JoAnn and Mark Pepper!)


                              • #16
                                That's awesome news!!
                                View my photographs at www.horsephotoguy.zenfolio.com


                                • #17
                                  Old Friends is great. I am taking a graduate PR class this semester and my term project is Old Friends. Studying their website, press releases, and use of social media. They do a great job of bringing focus to those amazing old horses!


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Originally posted by RedEqHunter View Post
                                    Old Friends is great. I am taking a graduate PR class this semester and my term project is Old Friends. Studying their website, press releases, and use of social media. They do a great job of bringing focus to those amazing old horses!
                                    The best PR machine they have is Michael himself as he's hands-on involved, conversational, and of course truly believes in the mission. A lot of folks behind the scenes too are making it work from his wife to the office folks, the guides, and other assorted people who also want to make a difference.

                                    As for studying their PR I'm sure they'll prove to be interesting in a "not bad for a bare bones start-up non-for-profit" way. However I wouldn't say the website layout or the emails sent out are terribly "wow" in a 2009 way and what they could be like.

                                    That said, maybe because it isn't terribly slick - in fact the first emails from Michael were somewhat folksy and from the heart - it's worked vs. something overly sterile being pushed out into folks emails.

                                    One thing I suspect Michael picked up from his Globe days with seeing movies that did well with stars - while smaller and often better films with unknowns were under appreciated - is that he's used the "big names" as a draw to help benefit other lesser knows. If having a Commentator there helps 4 others who may have worked no less hard but never were household names then so be it. Its a win - win for all involved.


                                    • Original Poster

                                      The Albany Times Union paid a visit to the Bobby Frankel division - Old Friends New York location Feb 12, 2010; cited was Thunder Rumble

                                      Thunder Rumble won the Jim Dandy at the Saratoga Race Course on 25 to 1 odds in 1992 and won the Travers three weeks later. He won eight times in 19 starts and finished his career with more than $1 million in winnings. The stallion came to Old Friends from the Finger Lakes Race Track.
                                      Back in Frankfort, KY Old Friends last month welcomed Academy Award - sired by Secretariat - and donated (along with substantial funding too) by actress Angie Dickinson, yep of Police Woman fame, et al.

                                      No mention of Spooky Mulder in the Times-Union article.