Old Friends Racehorse Retirement Center Honored at Eclipse AwardsBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · January 26, 2015
At the 44th annual Eclipse Awards ceremony held in Florida on January 17, Michael Blowen accepted a Special Eclipse Award for his leadership at Old Friends, a retirement facility for Thoroughbred racehorses.
Blowen founded Old Friends in 2003 to care for two horses in a single small paddock. From that beginning, the nonprofit retirement center has expanded to over 130 acres and now provides a home to more than 150 horses, many of which are stallions. The main facility is located near Georgetown, Kentucky, and is a tourist destination for thousands of visitors each year.
Recipients of the Special Eclipse Award are chosen on the basis of extraordinary service to the sport of Thoroughbred racing. The honor is not given every year and has gone to outstanding jockeys, owners, breeders, and organizations such as the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance. Recipients are selected by a panel of representatives from the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and the Daily Racing Form.
Caring for the retired racehorses takes time and skill provided by a few salaried employees and a number of other caring individuals who are not members of the official staff. Bryan Waldridge, a veterinarian with Kentucky Equine Research, makes a routine visit to Old Friends about once a week to check on the health of the horses in residence there. As a volunteer who can respond quickly in an emergency, he is also on call to treat problems like colic, laminitis, or injuries in these retired Thoroughbreds. In his acceptance speech, Blowen expressed his deep appreciation for Waldridge’s assistance and professional care.