Talkin' Horses - Live Discussions

Michael Blowen

Wednesday June 28, 2006

Old Friends' founder and president Michael Blowen discovered his unique bond with Thoroughbreds while working as a volunteer groom at Suffolk Downs during the 1990s, eventually buying and racing a small stable of claiming-level horses before leaving his position as Arts & Entertainment reporter and film critic for The Boston Globe to become operations director for the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.

That move to Kentucky more than six years ago gave Michael an even greater appreciation for plight of older, displaced Thoroughbreds and led him to the idea of creating a permanent retirement home in the Bluegrass for horses who need a place to go when their working days are over.

From its humble beginnings on a 20-acre portion of Afton Farm, Old Friends has grown to the point that a July 8th open house marks the commencement of a new era as Old Friends at Dream Chase Farm shows off its 52-acre Thoroughbred haven that is currently home to more than a dozen old friends, including Bonnie's Poker, Creator, Fortunate Prospect, Narrow Escape, Ogygian, Popcorn Deelites, Precisionist, Riva Way, Ruhlmann, Special Ring, Sunshine Forever, Swan's Way, and Taylor's Special.

Join Michael here as he celebrates the move to Old Friends' new digs and prepares for the arrival of the great Ferdinand's son Bull Inthe Heather!!

Diamond Bar, CA:
What's in store for Special Taylor and Pops?

Taylor's Special, winner of 13 stakes races at nine different racetracks and still the record holder of the 6f record at Arlington Park (1:08 in the 1986 I. Murphy Stakes), and Popcorn Deelites, one of the stars of the "Seabiscuit" movie, share adjoining paddocks.

While Taylor is clearly the superior racehorse, Pops is the star of the tour. As we say, he didn't have to be a great racehorse. he just had to pretend to be a great racehorse. Pops shares a paddock with multi-millionaire Special Ring. They are inseparable. Synchronized grazers.

I hope they live long lives so their fans can enjoy them for many years to come. It's a joy to wake up every day and see them both just hanging out.

Montreal, QB:
Hello, Mr. Blowen. Keep up the great work you are doing for these horses. I think you should be in the Racing Hall of Fame. Just wondering how realistic it would be to bring back Brian's Time & Forty Niner from Japan when their stud careers are done?

We are very fortunate that Megumi Igarashi of Narvick International is keeping track of all our American Champions in Japan. Since the devastating news about Ferdinand, we have worked with all the Thoroughbred breeding farms in Japan to transform a tragedy into something positive.

Virtually every farm is supportive of Old Friends. Brian's Time, a son of Roberto as is Sunshine Forever, and Forty Niner would be welcome at Old Friends when their breeding careers are over. Megumi Igarashi knows this, and I'm very confident that they will eventually join Old Friends when they're done breeding. The Japanese farms have been very cooperative with our efforts to bring the Champions home, and we're confident that will continue.

As for the Hall of Fame. that's very flattering, but that's for these great equine athletes. not for me.  I never could run a lick.

Best of Talkin HorsesTo read the complete transcript of this chat, along with many others, check out Best of Talkiní Horses.

Best of Talkin’ Horses features provocative “chats” with some of Thoroughbred racing’s most prominent names. Adapted from “Talkin’ Horses,” the popular weekly online chat series hosted by, this edited collection provides additional insights by Ron Mitchell, editor and moderator of “Talkin’ Horses."


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