Arson Squad Storms the Keeneland Paddock

Saturday April 20, 2013 Arson Squad visited Keeneland with Michael Blowen to help raise awareness of Old Friends Retirement facility and educate fans on the importance of Thoroughbred aftercare.

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Aside from the crowd, Michael and I were talking about how Arson Squad was doing and Michael told stories about how Arson's paddock buddy (I'm Charismatic) and Arson play very hard. Michael said he actually needed to get Arson back sooner than later, since the equi-friends are attached at the hip.

While Arson was being paraded in the Keeneland saddling paddock, I did notice he had been bitten or brazed by a hoof, but hearing Michael's story put the pieces together and we both laughed.

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This was really good to hear after you learn what Arson has been through...

Arson Squad burned his way into my mind in my early few years at Blood-Horse Publications. His career started in 2006 at age 3 as mine started in 2007. I was still learning a lot about horse racing. Thus, I tended to follow entertaining names, but usually the names that turned in positive performances and these horses became endeared to me. Thus my obsession with Jedi Code, Dancefloormaniac, Bug Juice, Dark Vader, and many more!

For several years on the track, I kept an eye on the name Arson Squad. He did not disappoint in any way. Check out his achievements!

35 Starts - 9 First - 1 Second - 8 Third  
Total Earnings: $1,190,181
Stakes Won: San Pedro S., Swaps Breeders' Cup S., Strub S., Meadowlands Cup H., Skip Away S., Alysheba S., Mighty Forum S.
Stakes Placed: Challenger S.,
Stakes Shown: Lazaro Barrera Memorial S., Affirmed H., Queens County S., Evening Attire S., Irish Tower S., Queens County S.

I noticed his notifications mysteriously stopped their usual arrival routines; works, preps, entries, and races. I was devastated upon hearing the news he had broken down in a training accident. But thankfully his owner Samantha Siegel sent him to surgery where he had more than 20 screws placed in his injured leg along with several rods. After he recovered, she placed him at Old Friends. Arson had more than covered his costs and earned his keep.

After his surgery, Arson was still in recovery mode and isolated from the other horses upon arriving at Old Friends in the winter. I and a few others ventured out to see how he was doing, but we were unable to see Arson. On a farm tour during that visit though, we learned how Arson Squad was being supported by the local fire department and I smiled thinking about how perfect it is that the fire department was supporting a horse named Arson Squad.

However, in June of last year my fiancee surprised me with a share in Arson Squad at Old Friends for my birthday. Arson was still not allowed to be seen by farm guests, however Michael took me to his stall and let me stand in the door as he fed treats to the talented horse. I was so impressed with how he was looking after seeing the infamous x-ray and hearing what happened. That gesture and moment meant a lot!

I definitely do not make enough money to own a share in a partnership of a horse, but the next best thing by far is to own a share in a former race horse!

At the TOBA ownership seminar I was helping film, held at Keeneland on Friday, April 19th, several people—including trainers, owners, aftercare facility staff, and veterinarians—spoke on the importance of aftercare for retired racehorses. I do what I can to help, as I can and would encourage you to do something as you are able, even if it is ten dollars here and there or even if it is a jar on your desk for a penny fund to accumulate into a donation. There are plenty of TCA-accredited organizations that could use our help.

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Arson Squad at Keeneland 4/20/2013. All photos are by Erica Larson:



Leave a Comment:

Mike Relva


Thanks for this update. I'm a contributor of Old Friends. Michael's great,if only we had more like him.

23 Apr 2013 9:13 PM
Linda in Texas

Very nice article and thank you Adam. You had a very handsome subject to talk about. And thanks to Semantha Siegel for caring about him and having him 'repaired' - they should all be so lucky. He for sure is living the Life of Riley with the busiest 'carrot cutter' and friend of all at Old Friend's, Michael Blowen.  

24 Apr 2013 1:02 AM

Great photos! I was at Keeneland Friday & regret not staying in Lexington overnight to see Arson Squad Saturday. It has been too long since I've made a visit to OF.

24 Apr 2013 10:41 AM
Shelby's Best Pal

Thank you so much for sharing Arson Squad's story, videos, and photos.  I enjoyed it so much.  Visiting Old Friends is on my bucket list.

24 Apr 2013 11:46 AM

He looks wonderful!  Keep up the good work with the outstanding work you do with OTTB's. I have owned three, and they were the joy of my life. One of my bucket list "need to do's", is come visit Old Friends.

24 Apr 2013 11:56 AM

We must give credit where credit is due. Samantha Siegel is an exemplary owner. The good works of Old Friends cannot be overstated.

24 Apr 2013 3:20 PM

I am the owner of I'm Charismatic.  The fact that these two horses are alive today and able to share their lives with each other and with us is a true blessing. I'm Charismatic went through a long road to recovery and only through the amazing work of Dr. Bryan Fraley, Dr. Doug Byars, Michael Blowen, Kent Ralstin, and most of all, I'm Charismatic's adopted Aunt, Janet Beyersdorfer is he alive today.

I especially want to thank Samantha Siegel for sending Arson to Rood and Riddle for surgery and the chance at a long life.  Arson Squad and I'm Charismatic may have come from different levels of the racing pyramid, but they don't know any better and were truly destined to be best friends.

25 Apr 2013 6:33 PM
Margaret Lewis

OF is a great organization!

25 Apr 2013 9:24 PM
Louie Dula

What a treat to get to see these photos and videos of such a wonderful boy.  I miss him dearly but am so happy that he's where he is now and has such a good buddy in I'm Charismatic.  Old Friends is the BEST and so is Samantha Siegel for taking such good care of this champion.  A long and happy life to you Arson!!!!!

26 Apr 2013 3:22 PM

Great Story. I am the lucky owner of four OTTBs...none were very good (in fact one never even placed in any of the races he was in) but it is an honor to care for these backbones of the industry. OF is a wonderful organization, and I urge everyone to donate to them or New Vocations. And kudos to the owners who cared enough about Arson Squad and others who get the care they need to retire to a happy life...these owners are real heroes!

26 Apr 2013 10:23 PM
Mike Relva


A couple years back I donated a modest amount to I'm Charismatic. When he first came to Old Friends I followed his progress. Was in Kentucky in Feb and got to see him and his friend Arson Squad. Great to know the care they have at Old Friends.

27 Apr 2013 1:52 AM
Dawn in MN

The pictures, videos, story and comments about Arson Squad and I'm Charismatic were very nice.  Thanks for featuring this horse.

As much as I love Thoroughbred horses, racing, and the beauty of the sport; the way the unwanted, injured, or worn out Thoroughbreds are discarded keeps me away for months, and sometimes years at a time.  Until the slaughter pipe-line is shut down racing will have a black eye, that no amount of p.r. can cover.  

To read of the few horses that are retired with the respect and dignity that all living beings deserve is bittersweet.  For every Arson Squad, and I'm Charismatic the number of Thoroughbreds that don't have a happy ending is unimaginable.

The dangers of racing are enough.  The animals that face that danger in every race for our entertainment need to receive the best of care.  


For the record, I am a meat-eating, liberal who would probably not have taken a chance on that surgery for Arson Squad.  I'm o.k. with humane euthanasia for people and animals.  To see what horses go through on the way to slaughter is unimaginable.  Sorry to rain on the parade.  I should have kept my comments to myself.  Seems to me mom always said if you can't say something nice don't say anything at all...

09 Oct 2013 7:25 AM

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