In a press release on Jan 17, Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Farm announced its 2015 partnership with Kentucky Downs of Franklin, KY. Together, Old Friends and Kentucky Downs have plans to form a satellite Old Friends-style facility at the celebrated racecourse.
This newly-formed joint venture between Old Friends and Kentucky Downs hopes to demonstrate the need for Thoroughbred aftercare and to increase awareness of retired Thoroughbred horses. It is also expected to increase tourism and add to Simpson County’s local attractions.
Collective plans are to open “Old Friends at Kentucky Downs” in May 2015. The new facility will welcome the public just in time for the summer season this year, featuring up to 10 retired race horses. This facility projects to have horse stars that have a history with Kentucky Downs. Tours will be made available to the public by Kentucky’s Simpson County Tourism Commission.
The exhibit will house a Visitor’s Center and an Old Friends gift shop near the stable area.
Daily tours are the norm at Old Friends in Georgetown, KY, hosting upwards of 20,000 visitors annually. The retired Thoroughbred racehorses are the attraction and visitors are able to feed them carrot bits, pet them and take as many pictures as they want.
Old Friends in Georgetown has over 100 retired horses at any given time. The big star at Old Friends right now is Silver Charm who recently returned from Japan, is the winner of the 1997 Kentucky Derby, and is a Hall of Fame champion. Another crowd pleaser is the three-time winner of the Santa Anita Handicap, Game on Dude. Then there are Gulch and Amazombie who are Breeders’ Cup champions, and 2002 winner of the Belmont Stakes, Sarava.
Michael Blowen, founder and president of Old Friends, is thrilled about the joint venture. He believes that the new exhibit at Kentucky Downs will “offer the fans a way to maintain emotional ties to the horses.” At the same time, Blowen says, fans have a means to celebrate horse racing in their community.
Kentucky Downs president Corey Johnsen could not be more pleased. He says,
Michael’s unbridled enthusiasm for this important cause is contagious, and he has set the tone for responsible racehorse retirement.
We can provide a good home for these wonderful athletes while Old Friends provides the expertise. Ultimately, Kentucky Downs and Simpson County get a great tourist attraction that highlights the state’s signature horse industry.
Kentucky Downs, Franklin, KY, operates the only European-style course in North America on which it holds live turf racing. It is known for the annual running of the Grade III Kentucky Turf Cup. It simulcasts throughout the year, offers horse racing games and holds entertainment events.