Archive for January, 2009

PostHeaderIcon Weekend Road Trip: Kentucky Horse Country With Rhonda Lane

Rhonda Lane is a former reporter and TV studio tech. She grew up in Kentucky horse country but now lives in central Connecticut. She’s an aspiring mystery/suspense novelist who also runs and writes The Horsey Set Net, a horses & culture website.

Ogygian, the last living son of the champion racehorse Damascus, loves to be scratched where he can’t quite reach. The fence rail works nicely, but he never turns down help. I’m happy to assist.

An artist painted a portrait for auction of Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown. The winner held it by the edges of the canvas because it went home wet.

Little Silver Charm, a miniature horse named for Silver Charm, the winner of the 1997 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, now runs the show at Old Friends. He has posed, more or less, for a portrait sketched by movie star Jack Nicholson for a special issue wine bottle label. Little Silver Charm is a “never ran,” except when he’s playing soccer with Old Friends founder Michael Blowen.

A valued racing collectible is a halter, complete with an engraved brass nameplate, once worn by a famous racehorse. Old Friends auctions a series of horse halters – some complete with grass slobbers – once worn by champion racehorses who are now breeding stallions, like Storm Cat, A.P. Indy and Giant’s Causeway.

Shelley Hunter, executive director of the American Academy of Equine Art, works on a sculpture of John Henry, the late two-time winner of “Horse of the Year” honors.

A popular part of the Old Friends Homecoming Party is a tour of the farm and visits with the retirees. Some of the horses are friendly, some not so much. Swann’s Way, an “also-ran” who enjoys a retirement at Old Friends, takes treats from one of the volunteers. Swannie is a lot friendlier, and enjoyed his treat more, than his ears in this photo suggest.

The Gallatin County Youth Bluegrass Band performs “Ballad of Danthebluegrassman,” a song they wrote in honor of equine retiree Danthebluegrassman.

Every year for the annual Old Friends Homecoming Party, a new arrival is honored, which suggests the party’s theme. Most recently, Danthebluegrassman poses for adoring fans while a bluegrass band plays in the background. Somehow, he seems to know that the party slightly up the hill from his turnout is his party.

For the 2009 Homecoming, also the day after the Kentucky Derby, a luau will honor new arrival Lava Man.

Old Friends serves as both a retirement home for champion racehorses (as well as some “also-rans” and “never rans”) and as a tourist attraction.

It is the brainchild of former Boston Globe film critic Michael Blowen, who’d been shocked by the ignoble end of past Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand in a Japanese slaughterhouse in 2001. He set up the rescue as an alternative.

Just because we’re deep in winter doesn’t mean we can’t go to a springtime party.

This is the most recent annual Homecoming Party at the Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Center. The party is often held on the day after the Kentucky Derby.

Old Friends is located at Dream Chase Farm in Georgetown, KY. May in Kentucky is a time of blooming tulips, fruit trees and dogwoods.

*Rhonda Lane is a regular visitor and reader of The Graveyard Shift. If you’d like to share your own Weekend Road Trips with us please contact me at

PostHeaderIcon Friday’s Heroes: Remembering The Fallen

Officer Chris Jones, 37

Middletown Township Pennsylvania Police Department

On January 29, 2009, Officer Jones was struck and killed while conducting a traffic stop. He leaves behind a wife and three children.

Police Chief Johnny Hamilton, 55

New Ellenton South Carolina Police Department

Chief Hamilton was killed an automobile accident on January, 28, 2009.

Captain Richard J. Cashin, 52

Massachusetts State Police

Captain Cashin was killed in an automobile accident on January, 28, 2009. He leaves behind a wife and four children.

Sergeant Curtis Massey, 41

Culver City California Police Department

On January 28, 2009, Sgt. Massey was killed when a vehicle traveling on the wrong side of the highway struck his unmarked police car head on. Sergeant Massey is survived by his wife and three children.

Police Chief Larry Blagg, 40

Trumann Arkansas Police Department

Chief Larry Blagg was killed on January 27, 2009, by a falling, ice-covered tree branch while assisting with cleanup efforts following a severe ice storm.

Officer Joshua Broadway, 21

Montgomery Alabama Police Department

Officer Joshua Broadway was involved in a traffic accident on January, 15, 2009, when a vehicle turned in front of his patrol car. Officer Broadway succumbed to his injuries on January 25, 2009. He leaves behind an expectant fiancee, his parents, and two brothers.

Deputy Sheriff Dominique Smith, 30

Torrence County New Mexico Sheriffs Office

Deputy Dominique Smith was struck by a vehicle on January 19, 2009, while directing traffic at an accident scene. Deputy Smith passed away the following day. He leaves behind a wife and two children.

Officer Jarod Dean, 24

Boston Heights Ohio Police Department

Officer Jarod Dean was struck and killed by a vehicle on January 19, 2009, while clearing debris from the scene of an accident. He leaves behind his parents and a brother who also serves as a police officer.

Detention Officer Cesar Arreola

El Paso County Texas Sheriffs Office

Officer Cesar Arreola became ill on January 17, 2009, during tryouts for the department’s Special Reaction Team. He passed away the following day. Officer Arreola leaves behind his wife and two children.

Senior Corporal Norman Smith, 43

Dallas Texas Police Department

Corporal Norman Smith was shot and killed on January 6, 2009, as he and other members of the Gang Unit attempted to serve an arrest warrant. Corporal Smith is survived by his wife, also a member of the Dallas Police Department, and two children.

* Thanks to ODMP

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