Location: Georgetown, KY
Average Number of Thoroughbreds: 200
Old Friends, the Thoroughbred retirement facility in Georgetown, Ky., has helped put a new face on the concept of equine aftercare.
Founded in 2003 by former Boston Globe film critic Michael Blowen, the organization has grown into a 236-acre sanctuary caring for more than 200 rescued and retired horses. There’s even a satellite facility: Old Friends at Cabin Creek in upstate New York.
Blowen had long believed that horses past their prime could still be valuable — money-earning, even — if the venue was right. And so Old Friends tested the concept by opening its doors to the public, inviting fans to come and visit their turf heroes. And come they did. The farm attracts more than 20,000 visitors annually who come to swoon over such champions as Kentucky Derby and Preakness winners Silver Charm and War Emblem, Belmont Stakes winners Touch Gold and Sarava, three-time Santa Anita Handicap winner Game On Dude, multiple graded-stakes winner Einstein, New York superstar Diversify, and warriors of the turf Hogy and Soi Phet. And while such rock stars draw crowds, the revenue they raise supports hard-knockers like Easy Grades, a one-time Kentucky Derby contender who ended up struggling in cheap claiming races at the age of 10, and Fighting City Hall, a frequent Portland Meadows and Emerald Downs contender, who made 103 career starts.
In 2014, Old Friends was presented with a Special Eclipse Award to honor extraordinary service in the sport of Thoroughbred racing.
But perhaps the greatest reward of all has been the respect and support of the owners, trainers, and fans who not only donate to the cause of protecting these amazing athletes but come to the farm to pay homage to these beloved horses. Our guests may come to visit a few ex-racehorses, but they leave having been touched by the heart of a Thoroughbred hero.
Old Friends offers guided walking tours daily, plus private tours and a founder’s tour are also available (both upon request). Reservations are required and may be made at www.oldfriendsequine.org or by calling (502) 863-1775.