Silver Charm rose from modest beginnings to become one of the most competitive racehorses of all time. In addition to almost winning the revered Triple Crown (Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes), Silver Charm was named Champion 3 year-old in 1997 and captured the Dubai World Cup in 1998.
Silver Charm’s dam, Bonnie’s Poker, was a mediocre mare. Her entire racing career was spent competing in claiming races. She raced a total of 63 times during her four year career, winning 11 and placing 2nd or 3rd nineteen times with lifetime earnings of $153,960. Midway through her career, the plain brown mare was purchased in a claiming race by Mary Lou Wooten for a mere $16,500.
Operating within a limited budget, Wooten bred Bonnie’s Poker to a modest stallion, Silver Buck. Wooten owned a share in him and once stated that he was the only horse she could afford to breed their mare to. Silver Buck won the Suburban and Whitney Handicaps during his two year career and retired with 7 wins from 16 races and earnings of $421,906. In horse breeding there is a motto: breed the best to the best and hope for the best. Bonnie’s Poker and Silver Buck were productive during their racing days but neither were champions. The possibility of them producing a champion was slim but Silver Charm would become a colt that defied the odds.
In 1995, Bonnie’s Poker was sold at the Ocala October sale for a mere $4,200 to lighten the load of the farm. Silver Charm was also sold in the August Yearling sale, fetching $16,500. Silver Charm returned to the sales ring a year later and was purchased privately by horse trainer Bob Baffert for owners Bob & Beverly Lewis for $85,000.
Silver Charm began his illustrious career with a second place in his debut at Del Mar in California before winning three in a row. In 1997 the then three-year-old lost two of three races to rival Free House before heading to Churchill Downs to compete in the Kentucky Derby. Not only did Silver Charm win the Kentucky Derby, he went on the win the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Racecourse in Maryland. With the first two legs of the Triple Crown under his belt, Silver Charm traveled to New York for the Belmont Stakes and his chance at racing history. Silver Charm looked like a winner entering the homestretch of the 1 1/2 mile Belmont Stakes. He held the lead over Free House but a late surge by Touch Gold, who passed Silver Charm just before the finish line, denied the gray colt the elusive Triple Crown by only 3/4 of a length.
Silver Charm was crowned Champion three-year-old colt in 1997 after winning three of seven races and finishing 2nd in the other four. As a four year old, he continued his winning ways by capturing the Dubai World Cup along with five other stakes races and placing second in two more. The decision was made to continue racing Silver Charm as a five year old, a feat almost unheard of for a champion of his stature. After winning only two of six races in 1999 and finishing worse than second in the other four, Silver Charm’s connections decided it was time to retire him.
For a horse of such modest beginnings, Silver Charm raced his way into legendary status. During his four year reign Silver Charm won 12 of his 24 races and placed 2nd or 3rd nine times with a lifetime bankroll of $6,944,369.00
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