01/18/2015 9:43AM

Old Friends to establish site at Kentucky Downs


Old Friends Equine Retirement has announced a partnership with Kentucky Downs to establish a satellite facility at the Franklin, Ky., racetrack.

Old Friends at Kentucky Downs is expected to launch in May 2015 and will be open to the public for the summer season. Located on the Kentucky-Tennessee border, the track’s branch will house 10 horses, including some with a history of running at Kentucky Downs. An adjoining visitor’s center and Old Friends gift shop will be housed in a newly renovated structure in the track’s stable area.

Old Friends announced plans for the facility Saturday evening while being honored with the Special Eclipse Award.

"This is going to be great for these retired athletes," said Old Friends founder and President Michael Blowen. "This exhibit will offer the fans a way to maintain emotional ties to the horses, and it will also offer a way to celebrate the history of horse racing in their community."

Old Friends is based Georgetown, Ky., with two satellite locations in New York. The Kentucky farm is home to more than 100 of the organization’s 150 retirees, including Hall of Famer Silver Charm, the champions Gulch and Amazombie, the Belmont Stakes winner Sarava, and the multiple Grade 1 winner Game On Dude.

Public tours of the Kentucky Downs branch will be coordinated by the Simpson County Tourism Commission.

"It's an honor to work with Michael Blowen and Old Friends," said Kentucky Downs President Corey Johnsen. "Michael's unbridled enthusiasm for this important cause is contagious, and he has set the tone for responsible racehorse retirement.

"The situation at Kentucky Downs is a win-win situation. 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."