Old Friends Farm a place for racing's finest to live out their lives
After years of competing and breeding, racing's finest live out their lives in Georgetown, Kentucky. Old Friends is a retirement farm that takes care of more than 160 retired race horses.
GEORGETOWN, Ky. (WDRB) -- Far from the hustle and bustle of Churchill Downs, acres of calm pastures stretch across this Georgetown, Kentucky farm. It's the perfect place for retirement, just ask the thoroughbreds of Old Friends Farm or Michael Blowen, the founder of the retirement retreat.
"I think how can I get a job like this where people will come feed me every day, and I wouldn't have to do anything," said Blowen, who swapped his job at the Boston Globe for a gig on the farm 15 years ago. Starting with just one horse, he never imagined Old Friends would grow to more than 160 thoroughbreds.
"We used to have to beg people to let us have their horse, and now we have a waiting list for some very nice horses," he said.
After years of competing and breeding, racing's finest come here under the watchful eye of Blowen.
"These great athletes provide great entertainment for people for years and years, and at the end of the day they should have a good place to go," said Blowen.
Old Friends is home to more stakes winners than any farm in the history of horse racing. Here, visitors can get up close and personal with two Kentucky Derby winners. War Emblem won the Run for the Roses in 2002.
"He only knows two ways to communicate: biting and kicking," said Blowen.
He has a much different temperament than Blowen's pride and joy Silver Charm.
"Silver Charm is like the valedictorian. He knows everything. He gets A's on every paper. The teacher loves him," said Blowen. "War Emblem is exactly the opposite except they share intelligence. War Emblem's intelligence manifests itself that he doesn't care about anyone but himself. He's a total narcissist. That's what his name should be."
Silver Charm, the 1997 Derby winner, arrived at Old Friends in 2014. Blowen calls it the greatest day of his life.
"How could a horse live up to the imaginary fantasy that you have and the expectations that you have, and he is better. He's better than I imagined."
Not all horses are larger than life winners of Triple Crown races. Some are just thoroughbreds who need a home. It doesn't matter to Blowen, who treats all the horses with the love and attention they deserve. This mom and pop operation survives thanks to donations.
"We take the horses unconditionally. There are no financial requirements on anyone," said Blowen.
Luckily, with such a rich racing tradition, Old Friends has a lot of very generous people in its corner. That continued support means the farm will be able to provide a good retirement for more legends of racing. They're expanding to the land next door, adding more room for more Old Friends to live out their days.
Old Friends Farm is located at 1841 Paynes Depot Road in Georgetown, Kentucky. They do offer tours. For more information, CLICK HERE.
Copyright 2018 WDRB News. All rights reserved.