Turf Hallmarks


 Genetic Markers




 Search our site

 E-mail us


Turf Hallmarks

Important Races

Champions of the Turf

Race Course Gazeteer


Grave Matters

 Thoroughbred Index

 Non-Thoroughbred Index

 Asian Farm Index

 Australia/New Zealand Farm Index

 European Farm Index

 North American Farm Index

 South American Farm Index

Boston vs. Fashion

Racing in Australia


  Les Anglais in France

Gone Abroad


  Grave Matters: Old Friends, Georgetown, Kentucky

Photos by Kurt Lemke. © ©Kurt Lemke 2013; all rights reserved.

Fraise's grave
Precisionist's grave
Ruhlmann's grave
Taylor's Special's grave
Top: Left--Fraise; Right--Precisionist
Bottom: Left--Ruhlmann; Right--Taylor's Special
OLD FRIENDS is a non-profit retirement facility and tourist attraction in Kentucky established in 2003 by Michael Blowen to care for retired Thoroughbreds, especially stallions whose working days are over. His inspiration was the death of Ferdinand, winner of the 1986 Kentucky Derby, who had been exported as a stallion to Japan and was reportedly sent to his death at a slaughterhouse there in 2002. To prevent more distressing losses for former high profile racehorses, Blowen leased some acreage at Afton Farm outside of Lexington and took in his first pensioner, the broodmare NARROW ESCAPE, coincidentally a daughter of Ferdinand. By 2005, the farm relocated to a portion of Hurstland Farm, and 2006, Blowen purchased Dream Chase Farm near Georgetown, Kentucky, its current location.

Old Friends' first big stars were OGYGIAN, FRAISE, SUNSHINE FOREVER and CREATOR, all of which had been stallions in Japan but had fallen out of favor. FRAISE had been gelded, was being used as a riding horse, but arrived in poor condition and did not survive long after his return.  Old Friends has since been home to many racing greats, including champions BLACK TIE AFFAIR (IRE), GULCH, HIDDEN LAKE, PRECISIONIST, THE WICKED NORTH; and Grade 1 winners like RUHLMANN, OGYGIAN, COMMENTATOR, AFFIRMED SUCCESS, BULL INTHE HEATHER, and many others. It's also been home to BONNIE'S POKER (the dam of Champion SILVER CHARM), POPCORN DEELITES (one of several horses who played Seabiscuit in the Seabiscuit movie), and the tough claimer SWAN'S WAY, which Michael rescued at the end of his career at Suffolk Downs.

The cemetery at Old Friends is a hall of fame in its own right. Besides the memory of Ferdinand that looms large, there are two horses with markers at Old Friends who never made it there alive. The champion mare ESTRAPADE was set to be shipped to Old Friends/Hurstland when she died suddenly on January 1, 2005. Her remains were buried at the Hurstland division, and removed to the Dream Chase property when the operation moved there. There's also a marker for CRIMINAL TYPE, who arrival was being arranged when he died in Japan in March, 2005. --A.P.

Academy Award (c. 1986-2010)
Awad (c. 1990-2011)
Ballindaggin (c. 1985-2008)
Black Tie Affair (IRE) (c. 1986-2010)
Eternal Orage (c. 1987-2012)
Flying Pidgeon (c. 1981-2008)
Fortunate Prospect (c. 1981-2012)
Glitterman (c. 1985-2011)
Gold Spring (ARG) (c. 1988-2009)
Jade Hunter (c. 1984-2011)
 Leave Seattle (c. 1988-2012)
Marquetry (c. 1987-2013)
Noor (c. 1945 - 1974)
Polish Navy (c. 1984-2011)
Precisionist (c. 1981-2007)
Proper Reality (c. 1985-2010)
Ruhlmann (c. 1985-2008)
Stage Colony (c. 1987-2009)
Taylor's Special (c. 1981-2006)
The Wicked North (c. 1989-2011)
Benburb (g. 1989-2012)
Bingo (Connery) (g. 1988-2012)
Easy Ellis (g. 2001-2011)
Fraise (g. 1988-2005)
Marker: Criminal Type (c. 1985-2005)
Bonnie's Poker (f. 1982-2010)
Cozy Miss (f. 1988-2011)
Estrapade (f. 1980-2005)
Invigorate (f. 2004)
Narrow Escape (f. 1983-2009)

Home   Historic Sires   Historic Dams   Portraits   Turf Hallmarks   Breeders   Genetics   Resources   Contributors   Search   Store   E-mail

©2002 - 2013 Thoroughbred Heritage. All rights reserved.