How Angie Cadaret wound up with a million-dollar winning racehorse in her barn, hinged on a detour she made one day while out running errands.
She was driving past Old Friends Equine in Georgetown, Ky., on a January afternoon, as she had many times before, when she decided to pull up the driveway to the famous Thoroughbred retirement farm.
“It was their slow season at the time, so I got a real good tour of the farm,” she says. “That’s when I learned about the unwanted horse problem, and that Old Friends was a place for retired racehorses to go.
“I fell in love with the place. I went home that night and told my husband that I wanted to start volunteering for them.”
Up until this point, Cadaret didn’t know a thing about Thoroughbreds. The Michigan native had been brought up riding Quarter Horses in a big ol’ Western saddle, so the sleek and powerful racehorses who were used to 100-pound jockeys were pretty exotic to her.
But a horse person is a horse person and it didn’t take her long to notice a new arrival named Falcon Scott, an expressive dark bay with a large white blaze that looked like it was painted on with a paint roller.
“Everybody who works at Old Friends has a handful of favorites. And I knew Falcon didn’t really have anyone. But to me, he was just a big puppy dog, and I really liked him, even though he was a little nippy,” she says.
Soon she started coming to work with extra carrots and mints for her favorite, and she even blurted out an offhand comment that if Old Friends ever wanted to free-lease Falcon, she’d take him.
Then, two years after that glib remark, she got a call. Cadaret, who had relocated about an hour away from Old Friends by this point, was asked if she knew anyone who might want to free-lease the goofy bay. She didn’t even have to stop to think. “I told her not to let anyone else take the horse, that I’d be first in line,” she says. “I didn’t have a farm at the time, so I had to find boarding for him.”
But his arrival heralded a happy change of circumstances for Cadaret and her family. The family’s lease on a property happened to be ending around the same time, and they easily found the perfect setting for them and their new horse on a property that offered a terrific little barn and enough acreage to satisfy any racehorse. “The timing was really perfect!” Cadaret says.
With Falcon Scott settled in to his new digs, Cadaret quickly got the itch to bring in another: Bluesthestandard. A million-dollar-winner so successful he has a flock of fans, and even a book devoted to him.
The slightly rotund, 17-hand gelding with the look of a cowpony, not a Breeders’ Cup contender, was the horse most likely not to succeed, she says. “He didn’t start racing until he was four, and he was bounced around quite a bit,” she says. “The way he runs, well, his gait is unusual, but it really worked for him.”
Starting in low claimers, he climbed up and out so beautifully that California fans Dale and Lee Ann Morretino wrote the book Go Get Em Blue in honor of his lifetime achievement: 47 starts, 19 wins, 8 seconds, 8 thirds.
“He looks like the kind of Thoroughbred who never did much on the racetrack,” she says. “People are always so surprised when I tell them how much he earned.
Around the farm though, he has become the quintessential “gentle giant” who is happiest hanging out with her young sons, or carting just about anyone around on a trail ride.
Falcon and Blue became such good friends, and the experience of taking in Old Friends horses was so successful, that Cadaret convinced a friend to look at a horse too.
But her plans did a complete 180 when Cadaret climbed into the saddle and decided she had to have Bonfante for herself, and he would become the third Old Friends retiree to join her new equine family.
“I got to riding this horse and he had already had some pretty significant training, and I just fell in love,” she says.
Cadaret admits that her own mother thinks she “has a screw loose” when it comes to horses. And her husband, though supportive of her quest to help Thoroughbreds, thinks they’re “too big” and is less than interested in riding.
But somehow, they all make it work.
With her barn now full, and the third horse being the final horse she will take in, Cadaret says she counts her blessings to be so lucky to share her life with some of racing’s most outstanding creatures.
“They say you will always have that one horse who captures your heart forever, and that’s what Falcon is to me. I have him on a lifetime free lease, and he has his forever home with me,” she says. “And Blue has been amazing. He loves children, and my 9-year-old rides him all over the farm. I trust that horse with anyone because he has the sweetest soul. And, Bonfante arrived two and a half months ago, and he’s just great.”
Greater still was the camaraderie and opportunity she found as a volunteer at Old Friends, a place where other like-minded people spend their days in the service of horses who deserve no less.
14 responses to “A detour to Old Friends brings riches in horses”
Heartbreaking to learn that Blues passed away in someone else’s care, not at Old Friends. RIP sweet boy.
Where did you hear that Blues had passed? I know that I won’t be alone in being terribly sad to hear that. I know that he was in a very loving home.
Thank you for forwarding the story. I am truly sad. I was President of Georgia TOBA and knew Terry Brown (Blues’ breeder) well. I also loved and bred to Blues’ sire, American Standard. Really had hoped to meet him again at Old Friends, but they had allowed him to be adopted. I read somewhere that he had developed a great friendship with the young son of the person who had adopted him, so felt like he was happy. I continue to hope that he was, indeed, well cared for an just had his time called.
Thank you Susan for highlighting another wonderful story of these noble animals and the wonderful people who recognize how special they are!
This made me cry! Thank God for Old Friends and Angie Cadaret for taking care of these wonderful retired equine athletes. If everyone involved in the sport would step up and take responsibility we wouldn’t have these problems! Breeders, Owners and Trainers should all take responsibility of these beautiful creatures. It’s an injustice that the innocent horses suffer from carelessness and greed. They run their hearts out for everyone involved, but when they no longer earn money for someone, many of them suffer.
We always loved Falcon and Blue.. both are so much fun and just wonderful horses to be around. Blue was one of my husband’s favorites. Angie is the absolute best! No one could love them and care for them better than her. If the world was full of more people like Angie, imagine how many more horses would be safe in this world.
I am so happy to see Jack (Bonfante) ended up at such a good home! My sister and I used to ride him Old Friends. He’s cool horse. So happy you are happy with him!
Just one more note. We also bred to American Standard (Blues’ sire). American Standard was a tiny guy. It makes me chuckle to think how big Blues is by way of comparison. American Standard stole my heart early on when he stood in Florida. He was SO friendly and silly (guess Blues got that honestly). I had been down scrubbing on his head and started to walk away. He actually tried to climb over his pen fencing (one hoof on one rail, next foot on next rail…)to follow me. I’m glad Blues has a family who will give him the love and attention he so richly deserves.
Im proud to say I am the one who originally got Angie
Into horses. .
I am so very happy to hear that Blues is happily rehomed and loving his new life. He is the best horse to be bred in Georgia in the last 100 years. I was president of Georgia Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Assoc in the 1990s, and have followed Blues from his earliest beginnings. I had hoped to see him at Old Friends, but am happier that he’s got a loving family and such great friends to hang out with. What a happy new beginning!
Great story, Sue, there’s something special about te horses that make their way to Old Friends – and the people who love them! 🙂
It’s a good thing you do most of your Old Friends work from a distance! I love knowing that Bluesthestandard is a snuggly family pet and that Bonfante (who earned over $500K) is a nice riding horse. Fantastic!