Silver Charm

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Silver Charm
Silver Charm at the 1998 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs.
SireSilver Buck
DamBonnie's Poker
Foaled (1994-02-22) February 22, 1994 (age 30)
BreederMary Lou Wootton
OwnerBob & Beverly Lewis
TrainerBob Baffert
Record24: 12-7-2
Major wins
Del Mar Futurity (1996)
San Vicente Stakes (1997)
San Fernando Stakes (1998)
Clark Handicap (1998)
Dubai World Cup (1998)
Kentucky Cup Classic Handicap (1998)
San Pasqual Handicap (1999)
Goodwood Stakes (1998)
Strub Stakes (1998)
American Triple Crown Race wins:
Kentucky Derby (1997)
Preakness Stakes (1997)
United States Champion 3-Year-Old Colt (1997)
United States' Racing Hall of Fame (2007)
#63 - Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century

Silver Charm (b. February 22, 1994) is a champion American Thoroughbred racehorse who won the 1997 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes and 1998 Dubai World Cup (of all of which he is the oldest surviving winner). He stood at stud in the United States and Japan, and is now retired at Old Friends Farm in Kentucky.

Upon the death of Hansel, Silver Charm became the oldest living winner of the Preakness Stakes; upon the death of Grindstone,[1] he also became the oldest living winner of the Kentucky Derby; the last surviving Derby winner born in the 20th century; and, upon the 2022 death of 1996 Belmont Stakes winner Editor's Note, Silver Charm became the oldest living winner of an American Triple Crown race.

Background and early career[edit]

Silver Charm was foaled in Florida on February 22, 1994, out of the mare Bonnie's Poker and sired by Silver Buck, who was a son of Buckpasser. He was a gray colt with a blaze and was bred by Mary Lou Wootton.[2] As a two-year-old Silver Charm was purchased by trainer Bob Baffert for $85,000, and then resold to Beverly and Robert Lewis, who kept him in training with Baffert.[3] Silver Charm's first win was as a two-year-old, in the Del Mar Futurity.[4] Silver Charm entered the 1997 Kentucky Derby with Gary Stevens as his jockey. Silver Charm drew the sixth post position out of a field of 13, and broke well at the starting gate. He came out between other horses going into the backstretch and took the lead with less than a furlong to go. He won the Derby, finishing a head in front of Captain Bodgit.[5] It was Baffert's second time entering the Kentucky Derby or any American classic race; his horse Cavonnier had come in second the year before.[6] Silver Charm won the Preakness Stakes in the same manner, pulling ahead of Captain Bodgit and Free House just before the wire.[3]

Silver Charm lost the third jewel of the Triple Crown by placing second in the 1997 Belmont Stakes to Touch Gold; he lost by three quarters of a length.[7] He was the winner of the 1997 Eclipse Award for Outstanding Three-Year-Old Male Horse. He closed out his sophomore season with a runner-up finish in the Malibu Stakes.

Later racing career[edit]

At age 4, Silver Charm won the 1998 Dubai World Cup, San Fernando Stakes, Strub Stakes, Kentucky Cup Classic Handicap, Goodwood Handicap (now called the Awesome Again Stakes), and the Clark Handicap. He also finished second in both the Stephen Foster Handicap and Breeders' Cup Classic.[8]

At age 5, Silver Charm won the 1999 San Pasqual Handicap and placed third in both the Donn Handicap and Santa Anita Handicap. He also competed in the 1999 Dubai World Cup, finishing sixth. After his fourth-place finish in the Stephen Foster Handicap, Silver Charm was retired.

Stud career[edit]

Following the end of his race career, Silver Charm was retired to Three Chimneys Farm in Kentucky for an initial stud fee of $25,000. He stood stud in North America for five seasons, siring five crops of foals. In 2004 he was purchased by the Japanese Breeders Association, and was sent to stud in Japan.[9] He stood at the Shizunai Stallion Station in December 2004. In 2008, he stood at the Shichinohe Stallion Station and in 2009, at the Iburi Stallion Station.

Silver Charm's North American progeny features 15 stakes winners, most notably multiple graded stakes winners Preachinatthebar and Miss Isella. Silver Charm was not particularly successful in Japan, of 149 foals of racing age, he has been represented by one stakes-placed runner (in Korea). Overall, however, Silver Charm's progeny have made $2 million and won more than 1,000 races.


In the Blood-Horse magazine List of the Top 100 Racehorses of the 20th Century, Silver Charm was ranked #63.

In 2007, Silver Charm was inducted into the United States Racing Hall of Fame.[8]


Silver Charm went to Japan to the Shizunai Stallion Station in 2004, with a so-called "buy-back clause" included in his sales contract. Since the slaughterhouse death of Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand, the New York Owners and Breeder's Association has begun asking for a small voluntary per-race charge called the "Ferdinand Fee". These monies are intended for the Bluegrass Charities and the Thoroughbred Charities of America to help fund racehorse rescue and retirement groups and keep horses from slaughter when their breeding or racing careers are over. This has led racehorse owners to include buy-back clauses within their stallion contracts.

On October 29, 2014, it was announced jointly by Three Chimneys Farm and Old Friends Farm that Silver Charm would return from Japan and be retired permanently at Old Friends Equine, a horse retirement facility, in Georgetown, Kentucky.[10] Beverly Lewis and her son Steve paid to bring Silver Charm back to Kentucky, where he remains at Old Friends and can be visited by the public.[10]



Pedigree of Silver Charm
Silver Buck

gray 1978


bay 1963

Tom Fool
bay 1949
black 's 1947
War Admiral
Silver True

gray 1964

Hail To Reason
brown 1958
Silver Fog
gray 1944
Bonnie's Poker

dark brown 1982


bay 1963

Round Table
bay 1954
Knights Daughter
bay 1953
What A Surprise

bay 1968

Wise Margin
bay 1950
Market Wise
One Ripple
Militant Miss
brown 1951
Miss Militant

Through his sire line, Silver Charm is a male-line descendant of the Darley Arabian. In 95% of modern Thoroughbred racehorses, the Y chromosome can be traced back to this single stallion.[12][13] This is mainly through his descendant, Eclipse, who is the direct male ancestor of 95% of all Thoroughbreds, and in the pedigree of many of the rest.[14]

Silver Charm was also a descendant of the Byerley Turk through his ancestor, the gray French Thoroughbred sire Le Sancy (b. 1884), and his sire, Atlantic (1871–1891), a chestnut British Thoroughbred racehorse and sire who won the 2000 Guineas and the Epsom Derby. After his retirement, Atlantic was exported to France, where he became a successful and influential sire of stakes winners. Silver Charm's gray coat came from Le Sancy, who was out of Gem of Gems (b. 1873), a gray Thoroughbred broodmare.[15]

Tracing the origin of Silver Charm's gray coat gene back further, Gem of Gems inherited the gray gene through her maternal line from her ancestor, the British Thoroughbred racehorse and sire Crab (1722 – 1750), a son of Alcock's Arabian out of a daughter of Basto. Although gray (or "grey") was a fairly common color in the foundation stock of the Thoroughbred in the 1700s, it became increasingly rare over time. All modern grey Thoroughbreds descend from Crab through his great-great-granddaughter, Bab (b. 1787) - a descendant of the "Crab Mare" by Crab (b. 1750) - and her great-great-grandson, Drone (b. 1823).[16] The gray coat color gene only appears in about 3% of Thoroughbreds today.[17]

Le Sancy's influence at stud in France was likened to that of St. Simon in England, and his stud fee also matched that of St. Simon (500 guineas). Almost all of his offspring could win at classic distances and beyond, and many got better as they aged. He sired numerous stakes winners, as well excellent stayers who won the principal distance races in France, and a number of show jumping winners as well. Le Sancy was leading sire in France four times due to this, topping the list of stallions at stud in 1895, 1987, 1900 and 1903.[15][18]

Silver Charm is also related to Gem Twist (June 12, 1979 – November 18, 2006), another famous gray Thoroughbred and a world champion show jumper with $800,000 winnings.


  1. ^ Kentucky Derby Winner Grindstone Dies at 29
  2. ^ "Silver Charm Pensioned, Returning to Kentucky". Retrieved 18 November 2016.
  3. ^ a b Sowers, Richard (25 February 2014). The Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes: A Comprehensive History. McFarland. ISBN 9780786476985. Retrieved 18 November 2016 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ "Silver Charm".
  5. ^ "1997 - 2017 Kentucky Derby & Oaks - May 5 and 6, 2017 - Tickets, Events, News". Retrieved 18 November 2016.
  6. ^ "Welcome Home, Silver Charm". Retrieved 18 November 2016.
  7. ^ "Gainesville Sun - Google News Archive Search". Retrieved 18 November 2016.
  8. ^ a b "Silver Charm Settling In Well at Old Friends |". Archived from the original on 2016-08-25.
  9. ^ "Park City Daily News - Google News Archive Search". Retrieved 18 November 2016.
  10. ^ a b "The News is HUGE. Derby Champion Silver Charm coming to Old Friends". Retrieved 18 November 2016.
  11. ^ Michelson, Miles. "Silver Charm Horse Pedigree". Retrieved 18 November 2016.
  12. ^ Cunningham, E. P.; Dooley, J. J.; Splan, R. K.; Bradley, D. G. (2001). "Microsatellite diversity, pedigree relatedness and the contributions of founder lineages to thoroughbred horses". Animal Genetics. 32 (6): 360–364. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2052.2001.00785.x. PMID 11736806.
  13. ^ "95% of thoroughbreds linked to one superstud". New Scientist. 6 September 2005.
  14. ^ "Who's the daddy of them all?". The Guardian. 4 March 2007.
  15. ^ a b "Le Sancy". Thoroughbred Heritage Portraits. Retrieved 13 September 2023.
  16. ^ Byles, Tony (14 January 2015). 101 Interesting Facts on the History of Horse Racing (Kindle ed.). Apex Publishing.
  17. ^ Willett, P. (1989). The Classic Racehorse. London: Stanley Paul. p. 24. ISBN 0-8131-1477-2.
  18. ^ "Thoroughbred Sires of Horses that Jump". Thoroughbred Heritage: Historic Sires. Retrieved 13 September 2023.

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