Almost 10 years into rescuing and providing shelter for old and retired horses, Old Friends, a thoroughbred retirement center outside Georgetown, is being bestowed with the esteemed Eclipse Award. Old Friends is a non-profit initiative founded in 2003 by former Boston film critic, Michael Blowen.
Michael started with one horse a decade ago and today houses 166 retirees managed by five full-time and four part-time employees. Two dozen volunteers assist in the day-to-day operations of this organization regularly.
The Eclipse Award is an American thoroughbred horse-racing award jointly sponsored by NTRA, DRF and the NTWB. It was inaugurated in 1971 to honor the famous Robery J Kleberg, manager of the popular King Ranch. The award recognizes extraordinary contribution and excellence in the sport of thoroughbred racing. Old Friends has been named the winner of 44th annual Eclipse Award honoring the support and concern this organization has for the aftercare of horses past their racing days.
The Stars and Others
Old Friends Rescue Center is today home to many famous stars of the racing circuit. Thunder Rumble and Will’s Way are the past Travis winners and are amongst the star horses in the stables. This year, they welcomed two more heroes of the races, Silver Charm and Dude.
The center also houses the infamous 100-time loser Zippy Chippy, who has been drawing crowds of people to the rescue center. In the words of Michael Blowen, "Existence of these famous performers get the funds flowing to the center."
The generous funding the center receives throughout the year also helps to care for the lesser-known names in horse racing that are now amongst the 166 studs at the center. Michael Blowen asserts that “not-so-famous” horses also deserve a dignified retirement, an idea that is at the heart of the mission of Old Friends.
The Second Chance
It is a known fact that for horses ”life in the fast lane” is rather short and the early retirement from racing is inevitable.
Race horses have a long life to live after their racing years. Today, initiatives like Old Friends provide an opportunity for these horses to live a dignified life even after the most glorious days of their lives have passed.
They depend heavily on the donations, contributions and volunteers from the public. The love for thoroughbred racing made Michael Blowen open this rescue center for the horses and likewise the employees and volunteers have come together to help at the center because of their passion for horses and racing. This award can prove to be monumental for fundraising for Old Friends in future.
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