Blowen Steps Down as Old Friends President

Michael Blowen | Susie Raisher

Michael Blowen has announced he is stepping down as president of Old Friends, the Thoroughbred retirement facility he founded in Georgetown, Kentucky in 2003. John Nicholson, who served as Executive Director of the Kentucky Horse Park from 1997 to 2014, will take over as president and CEO, effective Feb. 1.

“I started looking a couple of years ago for someone to take over as president,” said Blowen. “The most important thing I was looking for was someone that really, really, put the horses first. It's not like they'd just be saying it, but that they really have to think about the horses first.

“Then maybe about six months ago,” Blowen continued, “I ran into John and we started talking, and I said to him, 'You know, I'm really looking for somebody to take over Old Friends because I've really taken it as far as I can take it. It started out with [wife] Diane [White] and I and a golf cart and feeding the horses; a little mom-and-pop operation on the corner. And, today it's like a multi-million dollar corporation, and it needs somebody that can handle that kind of operation. It needs a really good CEO that has managed a much bigger facility than we have, and the only way that we can improve is to get more space for more horses, which means more money, more donations, and an executive CEO that knows how to handle big business.”

In accepting the position, Nicholson said, “I am thrilled to have the opportunity of joining the Old Friends family to continue and enhance Michael Blowen's vision and values. Old Friends has been at the vanguard of the Thoroughbred Aftercare movement and I feel privileged to be a part of such an important cause.

“I have always had a deeply felt respect and appreciation for Michael's vision and tenacity,” Nicholson continued. “What he has accomplished is beyond remarkable. I have treasured our friendship over the years, especially having had a great collaborative relationship between Old Friends and the Kentucky Horse Park. He and I have always shared a spirit that the horse has given far more to us than we could ever give in return. Old Friends is making an important and vital contribution, not only to the racing industry, but most importantly to the lives of the horses who have given so much to us. I have been fortunate in my career to be a part of some meaningful endeavors, but Old Friends offers all of us who love the horse a unique opportunity to serve the animal who has served us so well.”

Since its beginnings in 2003 at Afton Farm in Georgetown, Old Friends has moved twice and has has grown to over 240 acres with close to 300 horses.

In addition to the main farm in Georgetown, Old Friends has two satellite farms, Old Friends at Cabin Creek: The Bobby Frankel Division, which opened in 2009 in Greenfield Center, New York; and Old Friends at Ashton Grove, a senior retirement community in Georgetown, Ky., a place that gives seniors a chance to interact with horses. There are also a few small annex farms near the main farm.

Blowen will remain a presence at the farm, greeting visitors and giving tours.

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