Location: Georgetown, KY
Average Number of Thoroughbreds: 200
Old Friends, the Thoroughbred retirement facility in Georgetown, KY, was founded in 2003 by former Boston Globe film critic Michael Blowen. The organization began as an idea with a leased paddock and one horse and has grown into a 236-acre sanctuary caring for more than 250 rescued and retired horses, including more than 20 stallions. The organization has two satellite facilities: Old Friends at Cabin Creek in upstate New York, near Saratoga Springs, and Old Friends at Ashton Grove, based at the Senior Living Center also in Georgetown, KY.
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 today can attract as many as 20,000 visitors annually who come to swoon over such champions as Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Silver Charm; Belmont Stakes winners Touch Gold, Sarava, and Birdstone; three-time Santa Anita Handicap winner Game On Dude; fan favorite and one-time Kentucky Derby hopeful Patch; and Wood Memorial winner Bellamy Road. While such rockstars draw crowds, the revenue they raise helps support hard-knockers like Fighting City Hall, a frequent Portland Meadows and Emerald Downs runner who has more than 100 starts on his résumé.
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 Thursdays through Sundays at 10 a.m., 11a.m., and 1 p.m. Michael Blowen’s personal Founder’s Tours are offered on Fridays at noon and private tours can also be scheduled seven days a week. Reservations are required (no walk-ins) and may be made online via the website (www.oldfriendsequine.org). Please call for private tours and for special group rates – (502) 863-1775.
Old Friends Success Stories