The founder of a thoroughbred retirement center in central Kentucky hopes to one day meet some of horses racing at Churchill downs this week. The "Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement" facility welcomed one horse just over a decade ago. President Michael Blowen says there are 150 horses on site today.
The former Boston Globe film critic says five horses were returned to Kentucky from Japan after their breeding careers. "A 1986 Derby winner Ferdinand and he was also 1987 horse of the year, unfortunately died in a slaughter house overseas and, instead of moaning and groaning about it, we got together with Japanese breeders and created this return package," said Blowen.
Blowen says 1993 Derby veteran,"Wallenda", was returned from Japan along with fellow Derby runner and Old Friends resident "Bull in the Heather." "The Derby is an unbelievable athletic event and I'm one of its biggest fans, but it only lasts two minutes for three-year-olds and we have horses that are upwards of thirty years old, so they have another 27 old years to live," added Blowen.
Blowen opened "Old Friends" after being involved in racing in New England. He says he would see horses loaded into trucks at the end of the day in lower end racing venues. Finding out many were headed to slaughter houses, he was inspired to form a thoroughbred retirement facility.