New Retirement Group Hopes to Find Some Old Friends

The organizers of "Old Friends," a proposed facility for retired Thoroughbreds, held their first formal event at Hopewell Farm near Midway, Ky., on July 23. About 115 people attended the fundraiser which included a presentation outlining the group's hope of constructing a tourism and education center in the next two years.

"The overall goal for Old Friends is to use star horses to start a tourist boom here, then use the income to help groups like ReRun and the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation," said the group's president Michael Blowen.

Tony Moreno, a member of the Old Friends board and Director of International Marketing for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, described how the proposed facility, which ideally will be located near downtown Midway, will serve the Thoroughbred industry and the state of Kentucky.

"This facility could attract potential owners and breeders and make racing more accessible to fans," said Moreno. He added it could focus attention on existing equine retirement alternatives, as well as put a public face on the Kentucky Thoroughbred industry.

Old Friends' board members, which include Hopewell Farm owner Rick Trontz, are still working on a formal business plan, but it will initially call for a site with four paddocks for retired Thoroughbreds, an office, and parking area. Further plans call for an additional four to six more paddocks and a gift shop.

The recent announcement by Kim Zito that she is pursuing the return of Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Strike the Gold to the U.S. from Turkey, where he currently stands, has dovetailed with Old Friends' development. Blowen said he is among the first horses they hope to have at the facility.