Lava Man to Reside at Old Friends

Lava Man to Reside at Old Friends
Photo: Benoit
Lava Man is scheduled to move to Old Friends, near Georgetown, Ky, on Sept. 16.
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A jubilant Michael Blowen announced Thursday that Lava Man, one of the great geldings of all time, is scheduled to arrive at Old Friends on Sept. 16, where he will live out the rest of his days.

Old Friends, located at 94-acre Dream Chase Farm near Georgetown, Ky., was founded by Blowen in 2002 as a retirement and rescue facility for retired Thoroughbreds. It has grown steadily and now hosts two to five tours daily for the public.

Lava Man, who was claimed for $50,000 at Fairplex Park on Sept. 13, 2004 and turned over to trainer Doug O’Neill, retired this year with 17 victories from 46 career starts for earnings of $5,268,706. He emulated Native Diver’s feat of winning the Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) three consecutive years and became the first horse in history to win the grade I Santa Anita Handicap (which he won twice), Hollywood Gold Cup, and Pacific Classic in the same year. He also captured grade I stakes on dirt, grass, and synthetic surface.

Lava Man, a son of Slew City Slew – Li’l Ms. Leonard, by Nostalgia’s Star, had previously been trained by Lonnie Arterburn, who also was the horse’s co-owner and co-breeder. It was Steve Kenly who had O’Neill claim Lava Man. Kenly raced the horse under the name STD Stable, along with his parents Dave and Tracey, and partner Jason Wood.

“I am so excited,” Blowen said. “Getting him started out at 99-1, then went down to 10-1, and kept dropping with each conversation,” Blowen said. “After three conversations with Steve Kenly and two with Jason Wood I said to my wife Diane, ‘You know, I think we’re even-money.’

“I told Steve and Jason, ‘Whatever we have to do. Ask the Mosses (Jerry and Ann) about us, ask whoever you want. I know you’re going to do what’s right by the horse. I just know if he comes here we’re going treat him great and all his fans will be able to come visit him. I would be so thrilled.’

“Steve said he’d think about it and discuss it with his partners. And then I sent him a package of stuff from Old Friends and mentioned some of the other horses that are here and how many races they won. Steve called me (Wednesday) afternoon and gave me the address of the farm where he’s at and said to come get him. This is so unbelievable. I told Steve this is like Elvis coming back from the dead. I immediately called Tex Sutton and he’s all set to be flown here on Sept. 16. I can’t wait to see him in person.”

Kenly said, “Michael called us about retiring Lava Man, and he was just so energetic and excited. I didn’t think there was that much interest in the horse outside of the West Coast, and Michael just said, ‘Are you kidding me?’ We’re not blue-blood, we’re not the uber-wealthy. Lava Man is a small guy’s horse and Michael is a small-guy’s farm, so we thought it was a perfect fit.”

Lava Man will join such top-class stakes winners as Affirmed Success (Carter, Cigar Mile, and Vosburgh), Awad (Arlington Million, Sword Dancer, and Manhattan), Bull inthe Heather (Florida Derby), Creator (Prix d’Ispahan and Prix Ganay), Flying Pigeon (Hollywood Invitational), Kiri’s clown (Sword Dancer), Kudos (Oaklawn Handicap), Ogygian (Belmont Futurity, Jerome, Dwyer), Ruhlmann (Santa Anita Handicap, Mervyn Leroy), Special Ring (Eddie Read-twice), Sunshine Forever (Man o’War, Turf Classic, Washington D.C. International), Thornfield (Canadian International), Wallenda (Super Derby), and Will’s Way (Travers, Whitney).

Among the 30 horses currently residing at Old Friends is Bonnie’s Poker, the dam of 1997 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Silver Charm.

View the Lava Man Slide Show.

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