Horse Racing's Living History Museum
Old Friends provides a dignified retirement to Thoroughbreds whose racing and breeding careers have come to an end. By promoting these once celebrated horses through a campaign of education and tourism, our goal is to raise awareness of the importance of equine aftercare.
In January 2024, our Founder, Michael Blowen, announced he is stepping down as President of Old Friends. On February 1, 2024, we welcomed John Nicholson as our President and CEO.
A Message From Michael
Twenty years ago, Old Friends started out with Diane and I and a golf cart and feeding the horses; a little mom and pop operation on the corner. Today it’s a multi-million-dollar enterprise. To have somebody of John’s experience, his sensitivity for the horses, his love of the horses, along with his administrative abilities, he was the obvious choice. Old Friends is responsible for hundreds of horses already here and many more into the future. I’m very confident that, a few years from now when we look in the rear view mirror, we’ll see an Old Friends with more horses, more fans and a stronger foundation.
A Message From John
I am so pleased to join the Old Friends team. What Michael’s vision and tenacity have accomplished is beyond remarkable. Old Friends is making an important and vital contribution, not only to the racing industry, but most importantly to the lives of the horses who have given so much to us. Together we can help assure that Old Friends will remain a strong and viable force for all the good things it does for decades and generations to come. If our hearts and minds stay focused on the wellbeing of the horse, then there will always be a growing and thriving Old Friends.
In 2003, Old Friends thoroughbred retirement facility in Georgetown, KY, put a new face on the concept of Thoroughbred aftercare. Former Boston Globe film critic, Michael Blowen, started our organization with a leased paddock and one horse. Over the years we have expanded to a 236-acre farm, three satellite locations and a herd of over 255 retired former racehorses and breeding stallions.
We opened our doors to the public, inviting fans to visit their turf heroes. As a result, Old Friends is now the “living-history museum” of horse racing. Annually, our horses attract nearly 15,000 visitors, who come to get up-close-and-personal with racing’s superstars, and also meet a few who never saw the inside of a winner’s circle.
While rock stars like 1997 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Silver Charm draw crowds, the revenue they raise supports hard-knockers like Mikethespike, Nana’s Hope and Mike Man’s Gold. Every horse at Old Friends has a story to tell, and our volunteer tour guides enjoy sharing them with their fans.
In 2014 Old Friends was a proud recipient of a Special Eclipse Award, an industry accolade honoring extraordinary service to the sport of Thoroughbred racing. But perhaps the greatest reward of all has been respect and support of the owners, trainers, and fans who not only donate to the cause of protecting these amazing athletes but come out to the farm often and visit with all of their old friends.
With the end of 2023, which was the 20th anniversary of the opening of Old Friends, Founder Michael Blowen announced he was stepping down as president and turning the reins over to long-time trusted friend, John Nicholson. In a statement Nicholson said, “I am thrilled to have the opportunity of joining the Old Friends family to continue and enhance Michael’s vision and values. Old Friends has been at the vanguard of the Thoroughbred Aftercare movement, and I feel privileged to be a part of such an important cause.”
We are excited for the future!
“ The ups and downs, the ins and outs, I’ve been here since the beginning. I’ve seen it all. I am Little Silver Charm. I am the eyewitness to Old Friends history."
Dream Chase Farm, our main facility in Georgetown, KY., is home to more than 155 former racehorses and breeding stallions. Residents include Silver Charm, winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, Hall of Fame Member Lava Man, and four winners of the Belmont Stakes – Touch Gold, Birdstone, and Ruler On Ice. Our roster also includes Breeders’ Cup champs Little Mike, Eldaafer, Stormy Liberal, and Work All Week, plus three-time Santa Anita Handicap winner Game On Dude. Located just minutes from the Kentucky Horse Park and Keeneland Racecourse, we are open to the public for tours by reservation.
Old Friends at Cabin Creek: The Bobby Frankel Division, located in Greenfield Center, NY, is just a few minutes from the Saratoga Race Course. Run by farm managers JoAnn and Mark Pepper, Cabin Creek features 15 retired Thoroughbreds, including two-time Whitney Handicap winner, Commentator, and 2007 New York-bred Horse of the Year winner, Naughty New Yorker.
Old Friends at Ashton Grove, also located in Georgetown, KY., showcases a unique relationship between Old Friends Farm and the Ashton Grove Senior Living Community. The location combines horse retirement with exemplary senior living. Based on approximately 40 acres once owned and operated by Hill ‘N’ Dale Farms, the Ashton Grove location features 13 Old Friends retirees.
Team Old Friends
The best job to have at Old Friends, by far, is that of a tour guide. We’re pretty much the face of the farm, the first people our wonderful guests meet when they come to visit our horses. Although our backgrounds are as diverse as the pedigrees of our retirees, we share one thing in common, and that’s our admiration of the great equine athletes whose stories we tell day after day, rain or shine. We’re all unpaid volunteers, so it’s not a job we have to do. To us it’s an honor and a privilege to share the legendary racing and breeding careers of our horses with the thousands of tourists who visit the farm each year.” — Tom Beatty, Senior Tour Guide
Little Silver CharmOld Friends and Georgetown/Scott County Tourism Spokes-Horse
Gorgeous GeorgeOld Friends and Georgetown/Scott County Tourism Spokes-Horse
FonziMari Hulman George Annex Mascot
BuddyChief Greeter, 2004-2022
President and CEO
Bill Van Den Dool
Breeders' Cup Ltd.
Daily Racing Form
Dr, Bryan Waldridge
Equine Farm Management
Old Friends Volunteer Experience
The following volunteer positions are currently available:
We have limited volunteer opportunities for hands-on horse care. If you have experience working with horses and
would like to volunteer with our horse-care staff, please include detailed information of your equine experience.