Oldest living Kentucky Derby winner still charming at 30

File: Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Farm founder Michael Blowen gets a kiss from Silver Charm, who won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in 1996, when he brings him carrots. (2022 photo by Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

A horse that once topped them all in the "run for the roses" still has folksy charm at age 30, happy among good old friends.

Silver Charm, the winner of the 1997 Kentucky Derby, is long past seeking Triple Crown glory as a 3-year-old. But even at 30 this year, he still has a purpose in life: Entertaining visitors with his friendly gentleness and helping Old Friends farm founder Michael Blowen keep the lights on.

That's largely thanks to Kentuckians, where raising thoroughbreds is cultural pride.

They keep coming to touch and remember Silver Charm’s 1997 photo-finish win against Captain Bodgit for the garland of roses. 

"I said, you know Secretariat, you know he liked to win by 18 lengths. [Silver Charm] only liked to win by this much," chuckled Blowen. "But you know, it's much more exciting that way. It's a little more nerve wracking." 


May 3, 1997: Silver Charm and Captain Bodgit fight for first place at the 123rd Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. Silver Charm won the race. (Jamie Squire / Getty Images Sport)

Old Friends farm is a 236-acre racehorse retirement community outside Georgetown, about an hour east of the famous spires of Churchill Downs. It’s home to dozens of the sport’s oldest veterans – famous or not – many of whom are happy to pose for pictures with their fans, especially during race season.

For $30, race enthusiasts get a 90-minute guided walking tour and a chance to visit with the retirees, including I’ll Have Another, the 2012 Derby and Preakness winner. And, of course, there’s Silver Charm.

"Well, to me, the reason that a lot of fans come here to visit these horses and donate money to support the farm so we can pay our bills," Blowen told the Associated Press, "they come here because he's the star."

Silver Charm is about as close to racing royalty as you can get without winning the Triple Crown. He was trained by Bob Baffert, ridden to victory by legendary jockey Gary Stevens, and owned by the successful duo of Robert and Beverly Lewis.

At 30, he's the oldest-living Kentucky Derby winner. While the stallion has only four teeth left, they're enough to eat 200 pounds of cookie crumbs a month.

"He's a great ambassador for what is great about this sport and what keeps it going," Blowen added.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.