CBS News Visits “Old Friends” Retirement Home for Famous Racehorses
The “Old Friends” Thoroughbred retirement farm in Georgetown, Kentucky will be the feature of a segment on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric on Thursday, June 7th.
CBS News correspondent Richard Schlesinger and his producer, Chloe Arensberg, visited the 52-acre farm last week to tape the segment.
They spent several hours with the farm’s 23 retired racehorses, including Eclipse Award-winning turf champion Sunshine Forever, the first stallion ever to be returned to the United States after standing at stud in Japan; eight-time stakes winner Ruhlmann; hard-knocker Swan’s Way; West Coast star Special Ring; and Popcorn Deelites, a gelding that appeared in the Oscar-nominated film “Seabiscuit.”
“Mr. Schlesinger had a great rapport with the horses, and I’m sure that will come out in the piece,” said Old Friends founder and president Michael Blowen, a former Boston Globe film critic.
Thanks to supporters’ donations, Old Friends grew from a fund to a farm, and is now sanctuary to 23 former race horses, including four retrieved from Asian stud duty. Bowen launched the organization after learning that Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand and stakes champion Exceller had both been sent to slaughterhouses overseas when they were deemed no longer useful at stud.
“One of my theories has always been that famous racehorses are tremendous tourist attractions,” added Blowen. “In retirement, they can generate a lot of income that could benefit less-fortunate horses.”
An interesting fact about Old Friends is that it is the only rescue farm that will accept stallions. In fact, most of the horses are stallions. The farm is open to the public for tours and many people enjoy seeing the famous horses in the flesh. Together, they can relive the glory days of thrilling stakes victories.
For a former racehorse, every long, lazy day at Old Friends is a glory day, of a different sort…the sort too many ex-racehorses never have a chance to experience.