Old Friends began as a retirement and rescue facility for pensioned Thoroughbreds. Then news broke of the inconceivable death of Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand in a slaughterhouse in Japan in 2002 . The discovery gave even more impetus to our organization. "We went from getting five emails a day to hundreds," noted President and founder Michael Blowen. We knew such a death must never happen again. And so the plan became to bring at risk racehorses--those whose racing and breeding careers had come to an end--to Old Friends, provide them with the dignified retirement they deserve, and open the space to the public. By promoting these one-time celebrated horses through a campaign of education and tourism, we realized we could draw attention to all retired Thoroughbreds and all equines in need."
They are the only thoroughbred rescue / retirement facility that accepts stallions, & so we take exceptional pride in our pensioned champions, among them 1988 Eclipse-winning Turf Champion, Sunshine Forever and one of the last great sons of Damascus, Ogygian. In addition to their pensioned stallions, Old Friends is home to some very deserving retired mares & geldings.
River Downs supports the wonderful work Old Friends do for these Equine Athletes and we hope everyone will come out on Labor Day and help us raise the funds needed to run such a great program. There will be a silent auction with items for all horse lovers. River Downs will also hold a retirement party for 14-year-old Eagle Time and parade our local hero 10-year-old Catlaunch, who recently passed the $1 million mark.