Old Friends “For Sale”

No, Michael Blowen is not selling his farm, but he is selling memorabilia items of some of YOUR old friends who competed in the Breeders’ Cup. So read on and see what items are available and what memories they stir in you. Not only will you own a piece of history, but you will be supporting one of racing’s great institutions that provides homes for Breeders’ Cup horses to lowly claimers, all of whom become star attractions in their own right at Old Friends. ~ Steve Haskin

Old Friends “For Sale”

By Steve Haskin


Why do people collect memorabilia? Perhaps it is to provide a link to an historic event or an iconic sports hero, or perhaps it is to bring back fond memories of an event or sports hero that is close to the heart. Whatever the reason, people will pay for those memories, which they hang on their wall or place on their coffee table or shelf. Some may put it in a drawer and are content just to know it’s there. 

Of course, in the world of Thoroughbred racing, we all would love to have memorabilia of the greats, such as Secretariat, Citation, Seattle Slew, Affirmed or Forego. Some people will pay thousands of dollars for a rare piece of memorabilia, while others are thrilled to have a horseshoe or a halter or a saddlecloth belonging to a horse that evokes images of a special time and place in their lives. 

Maybe you find yourself frequenting eBay or other auction sites in search of rare racing gems or that special piece that connects you to a specific race or a horse who filled your heart with wonderful memories. Right now, you can shop for racing memorabilia and support the aftercare and retirement of equine athletes who provided so much enjoyment to so many. Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Farms is hosting an online auction to raise needed funds to care for retired race horses at their operations in Georgetown, Kentucky; Franklin, Kentucky; and Greenfield Center, New York. 

The extensive auction, which you can currently find on eBay, is running on a weekly basis through Nov. 22  in collaboration with the estate of Julie Albright, a longtime collector of racing memorabilia, whose voluminous collection has grown over the years to include horses both well-known and not so well-known. Highlighting the various offerings is the upcoming Nov. 1-8 auction segment devoted in part to the Breeders’ Cup Championship. 

The items for auction  include original racing and stallion halters; farm, training, and race-worn shoes; and much more from some of America’s most famed and accomplished champions and others who may simply have a special meaning to you.

Michael Blowen, president of Old Friends, expressed his gratitude for the opportunity presented by this timely collaboration.

“We are very excited that we are able to offer such incredible memorabilia from some of the greatest racing moments of the last 20 years,” Blowen said. “Like many non-profits, 2020 has been a challenging year for us. But this online auction series presents an opportunity to finish strong. We owe that to our residents.”

Here are just a few of the horses who will be represented in the upcoming Breeders’ Cup segment that opens on Sunday along with their corresponding auction items.


A.P. Indy Stallion Shoes – If you are a racing fan or even know just a little about the sport, you don’t need anyone to tell you that there are few opportunities left to own a piece of memorabilia belonging to the Hall of Fame racehorse and iconic sire A.P. Indy, who died earlier this year at age 31. At the time, he was the oldest living Belmont Stakes winner and oldest living Breeders’ Cup Classic winner. Even when he was living the life of a pensioner at Lane’s End Farm, he still was the No. 1 attraction at the farm and one of the most sought after horses to visit in all of Kentucky. A.P. Indy’s name is in the pedigree, either as a sire or grandsire, of more top-class horses than any other stallion in the United States this century. 

Tiznow Racing Plate Shoe – The value of this item increased in value just this week after it was announced that the only two-time winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic had been retired from stud duty. This year he will be represented in the Breeders’ Cup Classic by two of his maternal grandsons, Tiz the Law and Tom’s d’Etat, both of whom have an excellent shot to land the $6 million race. Last year we celebrated the 20th anniversary of Tiznow’s gutsy victory over Giant’s Causeway in the Classic, and next year we will celebrate the 20th anniversary of his equally gutsy and surreal victory over Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Sakhee in the aftermath of 9/11, as he saved the day for America following three consecutive victories by European invaders. If there was ever an appropriate time to own a piece of Tiznow memorabilia, this is it.

Afleet Alex Breeders’ Cup Saddlecloth and Training Shoe – No one knows how great Afleet Alex would have been had his career not been stopped by injury following his dominating victories in the Preakness and Belmont Stakes. If not for a lung infection suffered in his one-length defeat in the Kentucky Derby, Afleet Alex would have been a Triple Crown winner. We are all aware of his miraculous score in the Preakness, in which he avoided a catastrophic incident with one of great displays of athleticism ever witnessed on an American racetrack, but few remember the excellent race he ran in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile when he fell back to last early in tight quarters and forced wide after being bumped going into the clubhouse turn. He raced four-wide every step of the way and outgamed major stakes horses Sun King and Consolidator in the stretch, but was caught in the final strides by longshot European invader Wilko.

Invasor Race Worn Suburban Win Shoes — There has never been a horse like Invasor, to have swept the Triple Crown in Uruguay in Secretariat-like fashion and then come to America, where he rattled off five consecutive Grade 1 victories, including the Breeders’ Cup Classic to clinch Horse of the Year, before heading to Dubai the following March and concluding his career with a victory in the Dubai World Cup. But it were his wins in the Suburban and Whitney Handicap that established him as one of the top horses in the country and helped launch his Hall of Fame career. Discovered by accident on a farm in Argentina, he went on to write one of the great chapters in racing, winning major stakes on three continents.

Giant’s Causeway Halter – Ask any European who is the gamest, toughest horse they have seen in this century and you can be sure the vast majority will answer Giant’s Causeway, who rattled off five consecutive Group 1 victories in a 2 1/2-month period, winning three of them by a head, one by a half-length, and one by three-quarters of a length. In all of them, he turned back the challenges of top-class horses and refused to let them go by him, and that included two head victories over Kalanisi, who then came to the States and captured the Breeders’ Cup Turf. And we are all aware of his gutsy performance in the Breeders’ Cup Classic when he was beaten a neck by Tiznow in his dirt debut after his jockey, Mick Kinane, lost his right rein in the final yards. And this was after he had finished first or second in eight Group 1 stakes that year in one of the most grueling campaigns ever witnessed in Europe. A three-time leading sire in North America, he is the sire of last year’s Horse of the Year and Vox Populi Award winner Bricks and Mortar.

Kona Gold Halter and Saddlecloth – Can you name arguably the most memorable superfecta in Breeders’ Cup history? Well, the names of the four finishers to complete the superfecta in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint are Kona Gold, Kona Gold, Kona Gold, and Kona Gold, who finished first in 2000, second in 1999, third in 1998, and fourth in 2002, his fifth and final appearance in the Sprint. Here is a chance to own two pieces of memorabilia from a horse who accomplished something we most likely will never see again when it comes to speed, soundness, and longevity on the highest level of competition. And it must be noted that he ran the fastest time in the history of the BC Sprint (1:07 3/5), breaking the previous record set by the aforementioned Artax the year before, in which he was second.

Da Hoss Stallion Shoe – “This is the greatest comeback since Lazarus,” bellowed announcer Tom Durkin as Da Hoss came on again in the stretch to snatch a victory in the final stride after appearing to be beaten in the 1998 Breeders’ Cup Mile despite coming off only one allowance victory at Colonial Downs in the previous two years. No one, especially his trainer Michael Dickinson, thought he had had any chance to return from a serious injury following a series of setbacks. But the perseverance of Dickinson and his crew and the courage of Da Hoss enabled the horse win his second Breeders’ Cup Mile. For a number of years now, Da Hoss has been entertaining visitors at the Kentucky Horse Park, who are reminded of one of the great comebacks of all time.

Cozzene Stallion Shoe – Can you name the Champion Grass Horse and Breeders’ Cup Mile winner who sired a Breeders’ Cup Classic winner and a Breeders’ Cup Turf winner? Yes, that amazing feat was accomplished by Cozzene, who was owned and bred by the legendary John Nerud, who has had more influence on the breed than anyone in modern times, not only through the prolific Cozzene, who was the leading North American sire of 1996, but Unbridled and Fappiano. Nearly pure white in color as a stallion, Cozzene is one of the forgotten heroes of the past 25 years.

War Front Breeders’ Cup Saddlecloth and Training Saddlecloth – Everyone knows what a successful sire War Front has become on an international scale and the tremendous impact he has had on Claiborne Farm, thanks in good part to the support of Coolmore Stud. The son of Claiborne stallion Danzig sired eight champions and has been so popular in the sales ring he has had 27 yearlings sell for $1 million or higher. But people forget that War Front was a top-class sprinter trained by the legendary Allen Jerkens who won or placed in six graded sprints. Here is a rare opportunity to own a piece of his racing career. Although he didn’t win the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, it was his last start before embarking on his remarkable and surprising stud career.

Artax Halter Last week I wrote a column about Artax, and if you are fascinated by his career and his amazing record performances in which he broke or equaled track records set by Dr. Fager, Groovy, and Mr. Prospector, then this is your opportunity to purchase one of his halters, knowing you will possess a piece of equipment worn by arguably the fastest horse of the past quarter century.

Pine Island Breeders’ Cup Saddlecloth and Gazelle Shoes and Saddlecloth – One of the saddest moments in Breeders’ Cup history was the fatal injury suffered by Pine Island in the 2006 Distaff following her brilliant victories in the Grade 1 Alabama and Gazelle as well as second-place finishes in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks and Mother Goose. If you were a fan of this sensational filly or just want to memorialize her, what better way than to own the saddlecloth she wore in the Breeders’ Cup and salute her triumphs by owning the shoes and saddlecloth she wore in her Gazelle victory. If you wish to complete your collection of that Breeders’ Cup Distaff, you can add the shoes worn in that race by the victorious Round Pond and the saddlecloth for third place finisher Balletto.

Other items to be sold include the halter, saddlecloth and presentation blanket of Corinthian, the first Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner, and the Breeders’ Cup-winning shoes worn by Juvenile winner and 2-year-old champion War Pass.


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