1997 Kentucky Derby winner Silver Charm has returned home after more than a decade in Japan, where he served as a breeding stallion. Silver Charm will now live at the Old Friends retirement farm near Georgetown, Kentucky.
Silver Charm won the 1997 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes and came maddeningly close to completing the Triple Crown, finishing second in the Belmont Stakes. He went on the win the Dubai World Cup before ending his competitive racing career with $6.9 million in earnings. He originally stood at Three Chimneys Farm before heading to Japan. His return to Kentucky was the result of a long series of negotiations between Old Friends, Three Chimneys and the Japan Bloodhorse Breeders’ Association. The hope had been to get Silver Charm back to Kentucky several years ago, but the Japanese ‘horsemen’ kept wanting to get another year after year of breeding out of him.
Old Friends’ founder and president Michael Blowen said that Silver Charm is his ‘all time favorite’ race horse before adding: “I can’t imagine being more thrilled about anything happening.” According to Blowen, Silver Charm already seems pleased with his new home. Blowen said that several years ago he’d received a halter worn by Silver Charm. The intention was for it to be auctioned off as a fundraising item but he couldn’t part with it so he kept it. Finally, it’s back where it should be: “Today, I got to put it back on him. It’s come back to its rightful owner. I’m so glad I kept it.”
He’ll spend three weeks in quarantine, which is customary for new horses at the facility. After that, he’ll be living a life of leisure: “He’ll be like one of the boys. He’ll be meeting and greeting his fans” according to Old Friends spokeswoman Cindy Grisolia.
Blowen is glad that he got Silver Charm back at all. Animal life is cheap in Japan and after a horse has lived out his ‘usefulness’ for economic gain even the most impressive credentials like a Kentucky Derby title doesn’t carry much weight. The most shameful example is 1987 Derby winner Ferdinand who was killed in a Japanese slaughterhouse after a stud career. The Old Friends shelter was founded to provide a humane and dignified retirement after their racing career.