Former Boston Globe film critic Michael Blowen started Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Farms in 2003, after learning that 1986 Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand took his last breath in a Japanese slaughterhouse—shamefully, not an atypical end for an ex-racehorse.
Ferdinand’s death was not in vain. Today, Blowen’s non-profit cares for more than 150 retired racehorses across three states, with a special focus on notoriously high-maintenance stallions. Guided walks around the 134-acre farm in Georgetown, KY—about half an hour outside Lexington—are $10 and must be booked in advance. On the tour, you’ll meet Kentucky Derby winner Silver Charm, Breeders’ Cup champion Gulch, and Belmont Stakes hero Sarava, plus one of the eight horses that played Seabiscuit in the 2003 movie. The Old Friends retirees, collectively, have made more than $98 million on the track.
One final highlight of the tour is meeting Little Silver Charm, a miniature horse a la Parks and Rec’s Li’l Sebastian, and the only non-thoroughbred on the property. When you see Blowden nuzzle up to him, there is no question which horse here is teacher’s pet.
1841 Paynes Depot Rd., Georgetown, KY; 502-863-1775.