Retired thoroughbreds find second chances, new careers in Kentucky racehorse retirement and adoption centers [Equine]
We were taken on a golf cart tour by charismatic Old Friends Founder Michael Blowen. His passion for the horses and the farm’s mission was evident; he loves the horses that reside there and carries a bag of carrots around to feed the retirees. He has a big heart and more than once intervened when a horse, who did not have a distinguished racing career, was in jeopardy of going to a bad place and brought them to the farm to retire. There were many funny stories of famous visitors to his farm including well known jockeys and movie stars (Blowen is a retired film critic).
The farm’s mascot is a little dapple grey pony named Little Silver Charm. Charming he was as he and Blowen won over old and young alike when they entertained a group of visitors with a game of soccer with Blowen receiving a kiss from his little buddy afterwards.
Little Silver Charm has graced the pages of a major magazine and was the subject of a drawing done by actor Jack Nicholson. He was plucked from a slaughter truck by an acquaintance of Blowen’s and came to reside at Old Friends.
Old Friends is the only thoroughbred retirement center that takes in stallions. As a result, it houses some well-known retirees such as 1998 Breeders Cup winner Gulch and Blowen’s favorite, the 24-year-old Marquetry, who won $2.5 million and sired two Breeder’s Cup winners. Another famous thoroughbred retired at Old Friends is the horse that played Seabiscuit in the movie of the same name—his real name is Popcorns Deelites. His sire, Afternoon Deelites, also resides there.
Old Friends has just opened up a new facility at Merefield Farm in Midway. Rob and Missy Maclin own this new facility. Old Friends leases 120 acres to consolidate into one place retired horses that were being boarded off site. Eventually Old Friends hopes to start retraining younger retired thoroughbred racehorses for new careers and get them adopted to new homes. Old Friends plans for Bluegrass Tours to provide a shuttle service between farms in the future. Old Friends is open to the public for tours where you can visit its equine residents. To make a reservation for your tour, call the office at 502-863-1775.
A fundraiser will be held on behalf of Old Friends Equine, Ferdinand's Ball, named after the Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand, as part of the Kentucky Derby pre-celebrations, will be held on Thursday, May 3, at the Frazier Museum in Louisville, Kentucky. For more information, visit Ferdinand's Ball website.
Old Friends is located at 1841 Paynes Depot Road, Georgetown, Ky.. To find out more about Old Friend’s, visit its website.