Old Friends Equine

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Horses at Old Friends Equine

Old Friends is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) equine retirement facility in Georgetown, Kentucky, accredited by the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA). The organization started with one leased paddock and two horses, but now owns 136 acres, Dreamchase Farm, with additional leased pasturage. It is the only Thoroughbred retirement facility in the United States that accepts stallions on a regular basis. Old Friends is currently home to over 150 retired Thoroughbred athletes.[1]


Geldings share pastures at Old Friends, becoming close friends

The facility was created in 2003 by former Boston Globe movie critic Michael Blowen, spurred by the death of 1986 Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand in 2002. The presence of high profile horses helps raise money, allowing after-care for more low profile horses.[2]

In 2009, Joann and Mark Pepper's farm in Greenfield Center, New York, became a satellite operation of Old Friends Equine known as Old Friends at Cabin Creek: The Bobby Frankel Division named for U.S. Racing Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, who died in 2009.[3]

In 2015, Old Friends announced a partnership with Kentucky Downs, with the cooperation and assistance of Simpson County Tourism. Located on the Kentucky-Tennessee border, this satellite facility can house up to 10 retired Thoroughbreds and features daily tours and a gift shop. Residents currently include Canadian Horse of the Year Thornfield, Ball Four, Rumor Has It, Hussonfirst, Lusty Latin, Tour of the Cat, and Sgt. Bert.

In January 2015, Old Friends was selected to receive a special Eclipse Award honoring extraordinary service or contributions to the Thoroughbred industry.[2]

In January 2016, a fire destroyed the organization's hospital/quarantine barn. Forunately, no horses or people were harmed. Plans are underway to rebuild a new fire-safe barn, aided by donations and fundraising activities.[4]

Horses are kept "turned out" in their pasture as much as possible, with run-in sheds available in case of bad weather. Geldings typically share a paddock with one or two others, forming tight bonds. Stallions are more territorial and are thus kept in separate pastures. They do interact with each other though, often by racing down their fences. Visitors are allowed to touch and feed most of the retirees.[5]

The Board of Directors consists of Michael Blowen (President), William Van Den Dool (Vice President), Diane White (Secretary), Rosie Napravnik, Dr. Steve Allday, Clark Nyberg, Cindy Grisolia, Suzanne Mundy, Dennis Brida, Ron Portell, Ron Wallace, Mark Otto, Barbara Fossum and Corey Johnsen.[1]

Notable residents[edit]

Silver Charm enjoying his retirement at Old Friends

Residents at the main farm in Kentucky range from Classic winners to claimers. They include:

Rapid Redux with Rail Trip
  • Kudos (1997 gelding) - Winner of 2001 Oaklawn Handicap.[6]
  • Little Mike (2007 gelding) Winner of the Breeders' Cup Turf.[13]
  • Little Silver Charm (?) - Miniature horse and Old Friends' official spokeshorse. The only non-Thoroughbred horse at Dream Chase Farm. "Author" of A Charmed Life as told to Diane White, published in 2016, the story of life at Old Friends.[14]
  • Popcorn Deelites (1998 gelding) - Low level claimer turned animal actor, performed the title role in Seabiscuit, joined Old Friends in 2005.[15]
  • Rail Trip (2005 gelding) - Won Hollywood Gold Cup and over $1.5 million, joined Old Friends in 2014.[16]
  • Rapid Redux (2006 gelding) - Set a modern North American record by winning 22 consecutive races, winner of the Secretariat Vox Populi Award, joined Old Friends in 2012.[17]
  • Sarava (1999 stallion) - Winner of 2002 Belmont Stakes in the biggest upset in the race's history. Retired from stud in 2012.[18]
  • Silver Charm (1994 stallion) - Winner of 1997 Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and 1998 Dubai World Cup. Hall of Fame inductee. Retired to Old Friends in 2014 after standing in Japan.[19]
  • Special Ring (1997 gelding) - Winner of 2003 and 2004 Grade 1 Eddie Read Handicap, joined Old Friends in 2005.[6]
  • Tinner's Way (1990 stallion) - Two time winner of the Pacific Classic, Secretariat's last born son. Retired in 2010 after standing at Stud in Kentucky, California and Texas.[20]
  • Touch Gold (1994 stallion) - Won the 1997 Belmont Stakes, denying Silver Charm the Triple Crown. Retired to Old Friends in 2015 after standing at Adena Spings.[21]
  • War Emblem (1999, stallion until 2015, now a gelding) - Winner of the 2002 Kentucky Derby and Preakness. Stood in Japan where he was a notoriously shy breeder. Brought back to Old Friends in 2015 where it proved necessary to geld him to comply with USDA regulations.[22]

Notable residents in New York[edit]

Notable residents at Kentucky Downs[edit]

  • Ball Four (2001 gelding) - Won Kentucky Cup Classic, set two track records
  • Sgt. Bert (2001 gelding) - Two time winner of the Woodford Stakes, setting a track record
  • Thornfield (1994 gelding) - Won Canadian International, 1999 Canadian Horse of the Year
  • Tour of the Cat (1998 gelding) - Won multiple graded stakes and over $1.1 million, before descending through the claiming ranks. Claimed in 2009 in order to retire to Old Friends.[26]

Deceased Old Friends[edit]

Gulch at age 31

The following horses were re-interred at Old Friends when their original graves were threatened:

  • Noor - Hall of Fame Champion re-interred from the former Loma Rica Ranch after planned development due to an effort headed by Charlotte Farmer.
  • Skip Away - Hall of Fame Champion, 1998 Horse of the Year was re-interred from the former burial place at Hopewell Farm. The farm was sold at auction.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b "About Us - Old Friends Equine - A Retirement Home for Thoroughbred Race Horses". Old Friends. Retrieved May 30, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Staff, Blood-Horse (December 19, 2014). "Old Friends to Receive Special Eclipse Award". BloodHorse.com. Retrieved May 31, 2016. 
  3. ^ VGrF (8 December 2009). "Old Friends at Cabin Creek: Bobby Frankel Division is born in Greenfield". 
  4. ^ Release, Press (28 January 2016). "Fasig-Tipton gives $50K to rebuild at Old Friends". Off Track Thoroughbreds. Retrieved May 30, 2016. 
  5. ^ "February 29, 2016". Old Friends Blog. 11 March 2016. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Retired Race Horses at Old Friends - A Retirement Home for Thoroughbred Race Horses". Old Friends. 
  7. ^ "BC Winner Alphabet Soup to Old Friends". BloodHorse.com. Retrieved May 30, 2016. 
  8. ^ "Commentator Going to Old Friends". BloodHorse.com. Retrieved May 30, 2016. 
  9. ^ "Eldaafer". Old Friends. Retrieved May 30, 2016. 
  10. ^ "Futural Retired to Old Friends". BloodHorse.com. Retrieved May 31, 2006. 
  11. ^ "Game on Dude". Old Friends. Retrieved May 30, 2016. 
  12. ^ "Genuine Reward". Old Friends. Retrieved May 30, 2016. 
  13. ^ http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/213735/little-mike-retired-to-old-friends
  14. ^ Release, Press (9 May 2016). "Spokeshorse Little Silver Charm has a new book". Off Track Thoroughbreds. Retrieved May 30, 2016. 
  15. ^ "Seabiscuit Horse To Be Featured at Keeneland". BloodHorse.com. Retrieved May 31, 2005. 
  16. ^ Shinar, Jack. "Rail Trip Retired, Bound for Old Friends". BloodHorse.com. Retrieved May 31, 2016. 
  17. ^ "Rapid Redux to be Pensioned at Old Friends". BloodHorse.com. Retrieved May 31, 2016. 
  18. ^ "Sarava". Old Friends. Retrieved May 31, 2016. 
  19. ^ "Silver Charm". Old Friends. Retrieved May 31, 2016. 
  20. ^ "Tinner's Way". Old Friends. Retrieved May 31, 2016. 
  21. ^ "Touch Gold Pensioned, to Old Friends". BloodHorse.com. Retrieved May 31, 2016. 
  22. ^ "War Emblem". American Classic Pedigrees. Retrieved May 31, 2016. 
  23. ^ "Thunder Rumble, Gigli to Old Friends in N.Y.". 
  24. ^ "Will's Way to Old Friends NY Division". 
  25. ^ "Race horse Zippy Chippy who lost 100 races and NEVER won". 
  26. ^ "Kentucky Downs". Old Friends. Retrieved May 31, 2016. 
  27. ^ http://www.bloodhorse.com/articleindex/article.asp?id=35379
  28. ^ a b "- Thoroughbred Times". 
  29. ^ "- Thoroughbred Times". 
  30. ^ http://www.bloodhorse.com/articleindex/article.asp?id=37992%7Ctitle=http://www.bloodhorse.com/articleindex/article.asp?id=37992
  31. ^ a b "- Thoroughbred Times". 
  32. ^ "Creator -1986-2015". Old Friends. Retrieved May 30, 2016. 
  33. ^ "- Thoroughbred Times". 
  34. ^ "Champion Hidden Lake Dies at 23". bloodhorse.com. Retrieved 30 September 2016. 
  35. ^ "Kiri's Clown". Old Friends. Retrieved May 30, 2016. 
  36. ^ "Ogygian". Old Friends. Retrieved May 30, 2016. 
  37. ^ http://www.bloodhorse.com/articleindex/article.asp?id=25903
  38. ^ "- Thoroughbred Times". 
  39. ^ Shulman, Lenny (May 9, 2016). "Millionaire Wallenda Put Down at Old Friends". BloodHorse.com. Retrieved May 30, 2016. 
  40. ^ http://www.bloodhorse.com/articleindex/article.asp?id=42654
  41. ^ Bloodhorse Staff (April 1, 2015). "Grade II Winner Williamstown Dead at 25". Blood-Horse LLC. Bloodhorse.com. Retrieved April 2, 2015.