WUKY SportsPage: Old Friends Farm founder Michael Blowen
Michael Blowen is the founder of Old Friends, a retirement farm for thoroughbreds located in Scott County, Kentucky, north of Lexington. The stars in residence at Old Friends include 1997 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Silver Charm; Touch Gold, whose win in the 1997 Belmont Stakes denied Silver Charm the Triple Crown; two longshot winners of the Belmont, Sarava, who won at 70-1 in 2002, and Birdstone, a 36-1 winner in 2004; and several winners of Breeders Cup World Championship races. The big winners draw visitors from around the world, but Old Friends is also home to horses who had little success on the track. All are able to live out their later years in a peaceful setting in Central Kentucky. He speaks one on one with SportsPage host Keith Elkins.
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Blowen, a former film critic with the Boston Globe, took a buyout from the newspaper and came to Kentucky, along with his wife, former Globe columnist Diane White, and started Old Friends in 2003 with one horse and a rented paddock. Today, Old Friends is a 236-acre facility, has three satellite locations and is home to more than 240 retired former racehorses and breeding stallions. In this interview, Blowen talked about how his interest in racing evolved from fan and bettor into a passion for the horses and led to the move to Kentucky. He also had stories about the numerous celebrities who are part of Old Friends 20-year run, including Jack Nicholson, Angie Dickinson, George Steinbrenner, and others, and outlined the daily challenges and rewards of operating the facility. Blowen, his staff, and volunteers greet more than 20,000 visitors each year.