Derby champion Silver Charm gets his happy ending, comes home from Japan

 Silver Charm stands with  Michael Blowen, founder of Old Friends, and Sandy Hatfield, stallion manager at Three Chimneys.

It’s a happy ending for Thoroughbred champion Silver Charm as he has been brought home from Japan to live out his years at Old Friends retirement center. Silver Charm, dual classic winner and oh-so-close Triple Crown near-winner arrived this week in Georgetown, Kentucky, after standing at stud in Japan. The center will hold an open house on Dec. 2 to welcome the 20-year-old champion home before he starts his 21 days in quarantine.

Silver Charm stood his first five stud seasons at Three Chimneys in Midway, Kentucky, before he moved to the JBBA Shizunai Stallion Station for the 2005 breeding season. While his Kentucky-sire offspring included 15 stakes winners, he was not a successful stud in Japan, siring just one stakes winner.

Silver Charm captured the Kentucky Derby by a gutsy head over Captain Bodgit and the Preakness Stakes by a head over Free House, only to lose the Belmont by less than a length in the closing strides to Touch Gold.  In 2007, he was inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame. He remains today one of the 10 richest North American-bred and -raced Thoroughbreds of all time.

Trainer Bob Baffert privately acquired Silver Charm, a son of Silver Buck out of Bonnie’s Poker, by Poker, as a 2-year-old in 1996 for $85,000 and trained him throughout his career for the late Bob Lewis and his wife Beverly. The Lewises, who campaigned Silver Cham to win $6,944,369, paid for the horse’s flight from Japan to the United States.

Silver Charm is lucky. Not every Thoroughbred champion comes home. The racing world was shocked to learn that Ferdinand, 1986 Kentucky Derby winner who went on to capture the following year’s Horse of the Year title with a dramatic victory over 1987 Derby hero Alysheba in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, was likely sent to slaughter in Japan after an unsuccessful stud career. His demise was discovered after a member of the Howard Keck family that owned and bred the horse inquired about having him returned to the United States. Because of what happened to Ferdinand, many owners are now safeguarding their stallions before they are sent overseas with a buy-back clause to help bring the champions back home.

Ferdinand and jockey Bill Shoemaker.

Silver Charm joins recently retired multi-millionaire Game On Dude, Gulch, 2002 Belmont Stakes winner Sarava, and special Eclipse Award winner Rapid Redux in retirement at Old Friends.

 Silver Charm is led by Sandy Hatfield, stallion manager at Three Chimneys and greeted by Michael Blowen, founder of Old Friends.

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