Thunder Rumble, Gigli to Old Friends in N.Y.

New division of Old Friends gets its first three residents

Michael Blowen, the president of Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Farm in Kentucky, announced Dec. 2 that the satellite facility, Old Friends at Cabin Creek: The Bobby Frankel Division, will be the new permanent home of Bobby Frankel-trainee Gigli and famed New York-bred stallion Thunder Rumble.

The first Old Friends auxiliary farm, Cabin Creek is located just outside Saratoga in Greenfield Center, N.Y., and is owned by Joann and Mark Pepper.

In 1992, Thunder Rumble (Thunder Puddles-Lyphette, by Lyphard) was a sensation at Saratoga, when, in three weeks time, he won the Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. II) and then stormed past the field to become the first New York-bred to win the Travers Stakes (gr. I) since 1867. 

A start in the 1992 Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) led to a 7th- place finish and an injury that sidelined the 3-year-old colt for nearly six months.  In 1994, after a few starts in California under trainer Chris Speckert, the Ursula Widmer-owned Thunder Rumble came home to Belmont Park and original trainer Richard O’Connell. There he won a seven-furlong allowance race and returned to stakes form by capturing the 77th running of the Saratoga Cup, defeating a field that included West by West, Wallenda, and Colonial Affair.

Retired with 19 starts, 8 wins, and earnings of $1,047,552 Thunder Rumble was sent to stand at Keane Stud in Armenia, N.Y., in 1995. He was pensioned from breeding in 2006.

He joins Will’s Way as the second Travers winner to be retired with Old Friends.

The Brazilian-bred Gigli (Clackson-Forza Del Destino, by Roi Normand) marks the first Bobby Frankel trainee to retire at the New York division. The 11-year-old gelding is currently in Kentucky at the farm of John Neal, lead outrider at Keeneland Racecourse in Lexington. Neal had been attempting to retrain Gigli for a career as a lead pony, but the playful horse did not display the appropriate temperament for the delicate job.

In his native Brazil, Gigli won the Grande Premio Cruzeiro do Sul (Brz-I) as well as the Grande Premio Joao Borges Filho (Brz-II). In 2005, Gigli ran second to Prince Arch on the turf in the Gulfstream Park Breeders Cup Handicap.

Gigli retired from racing with 29 starts and seven wins. His career earnings were $201,809.

Meanwhile, Cabin Creek’s first resident, Moonshadow Gold, has been on the property about a week and has settled in nicely. A 10-year-old New York bred gelding (Golden Gear-Wacky Miss, by Miswaki), Gold is a former claimer with 85 starts under his belt (15 wins and earnings of $338,777). Thanks to the efforts of several caring equine-welfare organizations, the gelding found a home with Old Friends at Cabin Creek last month.

“We couldn’t have found three more appropriate Thoroughbreds to be the first residents at the Bobby Frankel Division of Old Friends at Cabin Creek,” said Blowen. “Thunder Rumble proved that a New York-bred could beat the best in the country. Moonshadow Gold was a resilient claimer, and Gigli was owned and trained by Bobby. More importantly,” he added. “I know the Peppers are going to give them the retirement they so richly deserve.”

Thunder Rumble will arrive at Cabin Creek Dec. 3, while shipping arrangements are being arranged for Gigli.

Cabin Creek, which opened its doors to Old Friends retirees  November 18, features 12 stalls, two round pens, five finished paddocks, and has raw space available for development and growth. The property will be leased by Old Friends, Inc., a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization based in Georgetown, Ky., which will continue to control all acquisitions and financials. Owners Joann and Mark Pepper will be in charge of day-to-day operations.