Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Bafferts give $50,000 to Old Friends, home to 3 he trained, including near-Crown winner Silver Charm

Famed horse trainer Bob Baffert, who won the Triple Crown with American Pharoah on June 6, has donated (with his wife Jill) $50,000 to Old Friends, the Thoroughbred retirement farm near Georgetown, six miles from Midway.

The farm is home to Silver Charm, who fell just short of the Triple Crown in 1997 when Touch Gold caught him at the wire in the Belmont Stakes, and two other horses Baffert trained: Danthebluegrassman, named for the late Dan Chandler of Versailles and Las Vegas, and Game On Dude, the only horse to win the Santa Anita Handicap three times.

Baffert visited the farm just before this year's Kentucky Derby, according to a news release from Old Friends, which included the photo at right, showing Baffert and his son Bode visiting Silver Charm, who was named for his light-colored coat and came to the farm just a few months ago. UPDATE: The reunion was tearful, Baffert's mother-in-law, Carolyn Moss of Centerville, Tenn., reports in her account of the Triple Crown chase in the Hickman County Times. Her daughter, Jill Moss, is pictured below with Baffert and Bode.

According to the release, after he won the Triple Crown, Baffert said, "I want to share this, I want to make sure that those horses that we really love -- we have to take care of them. Win, lose, or draw, I was going to do it." He and his wife also donated $50,000 each to the Permanently Disabled Jockey Fund, the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance and CARMAcares, or California Retirement Management Account, a charity for retired California Thoroughbreds.

Photo by Gary Gershoff, Getty Images
Tim Layden of Sports Illustrated reports that Baffert made the donations from $200,000 that Burger King paid him to allow a man in a Burger King costume to sit in his box at Belmont Park, putting the man in countless photographs, including on the SI website, at left. Baffert had turned down $150,000 from Burger King for a seat at Pimlico for the Preakness Stakes. (Here is Layden's story about the race, a fine piece of writing, to be expected from a man who took SI's horse-racing beat after Bill Nack retired in 2001.)

Michael Blowen, president and founder of Old Friends, said in the news release, "We are so grateful to Bob and Jill for this wonderful gift. The thrill and excitement of the first Triple Crown in 37 years would have been enough, but their generosity is unsurpassed, as is their love and dedication to the horses. Everyone at Old Friends wishes to congratulate Bob and Jill and American Pharoah's owners, the Zayat family, on their historic victory, and for sharing their wonderful horse with all of his fans."

For more on Old Friends, Blowen and his favorite horse, Silver Charm, click here.

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