Old Friends Farm hosts 18th homecoming

Published: May. 7, 2023 at 8:42 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) -The 18th annual homecoming celebration at Old Friends Farm brings in horse racing fans for a day of music, food and fun.

This year, it followed a difficult Derby Week for the industry.

“People come from Australia, from New York and California, all over,” said Michael Blowen, owner of Old Friends Farm. “For some people, it’s become a tradition. They may not go to the derby, but they come here.”

The event allows fans to meet some of their favorite horses from yesteryear. Others, got to score some high-end horse racing memorabilia and get a glimpse of what is still to come for the retirement farm.

This time, streets on the farm were dedicated to three influential members of the horse racing community: Bob Neumeier, Jay Privman and Dave Litfin.

“Unfortunately, we’re losing a lot of the great writers and a lot of really importation people in racing,” said Blowen. “These are the people responsible for telling the stories of those horses, and without those stories, nobody would care much.””

Stories like the one that unfolded over a mile and a quarter at Churchill Downs on Saturday. It ended in victory for Mage, but a loss for farm owner Michael Blowen.

“I’m glad he won but I didn’t bet him,” he said. “So I lost money but it doesn’t matter because the derby transcends all that.”

While Blowen says the week ended brightly with the run for the roses, he acknowledged that the build up to this year’s derby included some dark days for the sport.

Seven horses died on Derby Week, while several others scratched.

“They need stricter regulation and they need enforcement,” he said.

Blowen says the goal of this day and their farm as a whole is not to ignore the problems with horse racing but to shine a light on these animals and the positives of the sport.

“It’s really unfortunate that that happened, especially to the horses, and people should be held accountable for that,” he said. “If people saw the joy the sport can bring, I don’t think they’d do that.”