- Associated Press - Monday, December 1, 2014

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Former Kentucky Derby winner Silver Charm has returned to Kentucky to live out his days as a celebrity at a retirement farm.

The Racing Hall of Fame champion arrived Monday at Old Friends farm near Georgetown, said Michael Blowen, the farm’s founder and president. Silver Charm will become a main attraction at a farm that’s home to an assortment of past racing champions and also-rans.

“I can’t imagine being more thrilled about anything happening,” said Blowen, who called Silver Charm his all-time favorite race horse.

The 1997 Derby and Preakness winner had spent about a decade in Japan, where the gray horse continued his stud career after standing at Three Chimneys Farm in central Kentucky since retiring from racing. Silver Charm’s Triple Crown bid ended with a second-place finish in the Belmont Stakes. He later won the 1998 Dubai World Cup and finished his racing career with $6.9 million in earnings.

Silver Charm’s return to Kentucky was the result of a cooperative venture that included Three Chimneys, the Lewis family that raced him and the Japan Bloodhorse Breeders’ Association, Blowen said.

Blowen said he started contacting the Japan Bloodhorse Breeders’ Association several years ago to promote his farm as the ideal spot for the horse’s retirement. For years, he was told the horse was staying in Japan for another breeding season.

Finally, the decision was made to return the 20-year-old champion to the bluegrass.

Blowen said the horse seemed to take to his new surroundings right away upon his arrival Monday.

Silver Charm will be quarantined for about three weeks, as is customary, Blowen said. After that, he hopes the horse will be frolicking in his paddock. Visitors to the farm will be able to feed him carrots and snap pictures, he said.

“He’ll be like one of the boys,” said Cindy Grisolia, an Old Friends spokeswoman. “He’ll be meeting and greeting his fans.”

Years ago, soon after Silver Charm had left for Japan, Blowen said, he was given a halter used by the horse. It was intended to be auctioned off to raise money for Old Friends, but Blowen couldn’t part with it. He kept it all those years on a mantel above a fireplace.

“Today, I got to put it back on him,” Blowen said. “It’s come back to its rightful owner. I’m so glad I kept it.”

Silver Charm’s fate was much different from that of 1986 Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand, who also had a stud career in Japan. Reports later surfaced that Ferdinand may have been killed in a slaughterhouse in Japan sometime during 2002.

Old Friends’ goal is to provide a dignified retirement for old horses on its rolling pastures in central Kentucky.


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