Old Friends Kentucky Farm in Joint Project

Old Friends, the Kentucky-based operation that hopes to give the public access to visit retired Thoroughbred stallions, could open its doors at Afton Farm near Midway, Ky., as early as next March.

Michael Blowen, president of Old Friends, has a verbal agreement with Afton’s owners, Philip and Betty Sue Walters, to lease a portion of the 70-acre farm to construct a second entrance, four paddocks, and a run-in shed.

Betty Sue Walters came up with the idea after hearing Blowen’s frustrations with attempts to find the right spot.

“Our farm is very picturesque,” Walters said. “I had thought about doing a bed and breakfast here. I looked around and thought about it. It took a couple days to get Phil into the idea.”

Phil Walters retired to train Thoroughbreds after 35 years with Ford Motor Co. The Walters believe they can merge the boarding and training operations on their farm with the Old Friends mission.

The first resident at Old Friends could be Creator, a group I-winning son of Mill Reef that stood recently in Japan. Blowen said the stallion was to be sold to Korea, but volunteers with his organization are trying to purchase the horse with the intent to bring him to the United States.

“I thought maybe this was a test case,” Blowen said. “Maybe the Japanese are testing us to see if we can accomplish this.”

Blowen said a stumbling block is the high price of shipping a horse from Japan, which can reach $35,000. He is exploring possible sponsorship deals with air freight companies to help defray costs.

About the Author

Kristin Ingwell Goode

Kristin Ingwell Goode was a staff writer for The Blood-Horse, a weekly Thoroughbred news magazine and a sister publication to The Horse.

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